My mom’s grandma, aka Grandma Graham, always made the perfect pie crusts from scratch. It’s a simple recipe, though slightly different from others you’ll see because it contains an egg and some vinegar. I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit by swapping out 1/4 of the lard for butter, this adds extra flavor to the final pastry. You can swap out up to half the butter, but make sure you use at least half lard because it provides the perfect flakiness.
Making pie crust isn’t as difficult as some people make it out to be, it’s actually pretty basic. I attribute the fear surrounding to some of the cooking shows I’ve seen where they make it out to be some mystical thing where you have to have the perfect balance of fats and temperature or you won’t succeed. Another one of the reasons pastry crusts have a bad reputation is the move away from lard to other kinds of fats, like shortening. There’s a reason our great grandmother’s used lard in pastry crusts, it’s not as finicky as shortening. Taking the time to source pastured lard will make the end product so much better. Do not buy the hydrogenated lard from the grocery store, head over to your local butcher shop, or on-line to find a source for pastured lard. If you know a small local farmer that raises hogs, you should be able to contact them for leaf lard, which is the best kind of lard for pastry. EatWild.com is a great resource for finding local pasture based farmers as is your local farmers’ market. I have purchased leaf lard from Tender Grass Farm before, they don’t always have it in stock but you can have them put you on a list for when they do.
GRANDMA GRAHAM’S PERFECT PIE CRUST
makes 4 single or 2 double crust pies
4 cups pastry flour (all-purpose will work)*
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cups of lard (or a butter/lard combo)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup cold water (or buttermilk)
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
Sift together flour, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Mix in lard with a pastry blender or fingers until mixture is crumbly. Make well in center, add beaten egg, vinegar and most of the cold water. Mix until ingredients form a ball, knead a few times to bring together. Divide into 4 pieces. If dough is too warm, put fridge to chill. Dough will be easiest to roll out when it’s not too cold or too hot. Flour counter, roll into desired thickness and size for pie plate.
*I wouldn’t recommend swapping out the white flour with whole wheat, believe me, I’ve done it and when you’re eating it you feel like you have sand in your throat.
As with any recipe you make, the higher quality your ingredients the better your final dish will taste; using organic local or King Arthur Flour, organic pastured lard and butter, pastured eggs, real sea salt will make your pie crust taste even better!
For a video how-to on making this recipe head on over to the Your Day Blog to watch.
When it comes to pie do you prefer å la mode or sans ice cream?