I love making pies, and I make a lot of pies. But to make a pie, you need a pie crust, and obviously a recipe, unless you were my grandmother Betty Ivanski and then you never used a recipe. I did not inherit that talent, so I use a recipe and this one is truly a no-fail crust, read the recipe first, including the tips, and you’ll soon be a pie Queen or King. This recipe will make three 7 ounce portions of dough, (you’ll need a scale to weigh them out), I use the dough to make three single crust shells, I wrap them individually and store them in the freezer. But you do what makes you happy.
This recipe calls for two types of fat; lard for flakiness and butter for flavour. I have always cooked with lard, other then dietary or religious restrictions there is no reason not to. Lard is a natural fat and modern science has now caught up with me and has proven that in moderation, it is better for you then hydrogenated vegetable shortening. Yes!
Keep the fat cold, weigh it out, and with a pairing knife cut it into little pieces, work quickly to keep it cold, you want the fat to melt in the oven (this produces little air pockets which is the flakiness) not in your hands which will then produce a tough crust.
So, here’s the recipe, No Fail Pie Dough
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
Combine these together in a large bowl, stir with a fork. (Always use a bowl larger than what you think you need to, keeps the ingredients in the bowl and not on the counter or floor)
6 ounces cold lard, cut into small pieces (about the size of your thumbnail)
2 ounces cold butter, same as above.
Again, using the fork, stir the fat into the flour/salt mixture to coat. Now, with your fingertips, not your palms, they’re too warm, lightly squeeze the flour between your fingers, you can use a pastry blender to cut in the fat, but I always use my hands. Work the dough until it resembles a coarse meal, like uncooked oatmeal. Set it aside.
2 tbsp. cold water
1 large egg
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
Combine these ingredients in a small bowl, stir with a fork to mix the egg well, then add to flour mixture. Working quickly with either the fork or your hands, stir until the mixture comes together and there it is, pie dough. It is easy and very quick.
1. You can’t overwork the dough when cutting in the fat, just don’t “melt” it by using the palms of your hands.
2. The vinegar helps to retard the gluten in the flour, gluten is the protein in the flour and also what can make it hard or chewy.
3. When you add the liquids, it should take no longer then 2 or 3 minutes for it to come together.
Portions and wrap your dough in plastic wrap, chill for 25 min. approx before rolling, or freeze the portions, or what I do, chill the dough, then roll it out and freeze the crusts.