If you're anything like me you thought that by using the pie crust that was all rolled up at the grocery store you were doing pretty good! And don't get me wrong those can be pretty tasty but they're not near as tasty as piecrust made with leaf lard!
I was pretty intimidated when I started making my own pie crust. But, I soon became hooked on it! There are so many variations and so much you can do with it!
Let me share with you my favorite pie crust recipe. This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten and it is always a big hit when I bring a pie with this crust to a gathering.
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted Cottonwood Farm butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup very cold Cottonwood Farm Lard (leaf lard preferably)
1/2 cup ice water
You can either make this in a food processor or use one of these handy tools to handle it. I try to go ahead and make up enough for two crusts (which this recipe calls for) that way if I only use one I'll have one locked and loaded is in the chamber ready to go for the next time.
Make yourself some ice water so that it can be chilling. Then I go ahead and lay out two pieces of parchment paper about a foot long.
Make sure that you're butter and lard have been chilled in the refrigerator.
Be VERY picky about what goes into your crust
You can make pie crust with just about any type of flour you have laying around, however, the lower the protein in your flour the more flakey it will be.
Why is fat so important in pie crust?
Tenderness and flakiness are the hallmarks of a great crust. How do you attain both?
It's all in how you combine fat with flour. By working part of the fat into the flour thoroughly, you coat the flour's gluten with fat; this yields a crust that's tender, rather than tough. Leave the rest of the fat in larger pieces, and it separates the wafer-thin layers of flour/water that make up the bulk of the pie dough. As the pie bakes and the fat melts, these layers stay separated; which comes off as flakey in your mouth.
I have found that a combination of butter and lard, makes a crust that is both easy to handle: flaky, tender, and full-flavored.
To make the decision easy for you lets just go ahead and throw away the Crisco or shortening all together. There now it's not even an option to cook with.
Salt adds flavor but most importantly it strengthens the gluten in the flour making it easier to handle and roll out.
Mixing water into the flour mixture gives it the structure it needs to hold together. Too much water and it will be sticky. Too little water and it will crack at the edges and not hold together well.
Flour and water combine to form thin layers (flakes) in pie dough. The chilled fat in the unbaked dough keeps its thin layers of flour/water separated; so long as that fat is cold, the layers stay separate.
Keep it All Cold, Keep It Cold, Keep It COLD
Believe me, I have learned my lesson. Working in a 90-degree kitchen will NOT lend much time to making a beautiful pie.
I like to use this beautiful marble cutting board that was given to us as a wedding gift from a dear friend. You can also just use parchment paper like in the video however, the beautiful thing about working on the stone is that it stays a cooler temperature than so the counter or plastic cutting board.
This gives you a little more time to get it right because it works as a fridge for your
Even if you keep sprinkling your worksurface your dough will still get sticky from time to time especially if you are taking too long working it OR working too quickly. Yes, I know that sounds counter-intuitive.
A solution I have found is to grab some of the fat you have included in your crust and rub it into your cutting board/ counter, and rolling pin. Then sprinkle flour over both of them often.
The combo seems to help the surfaces hold the flour longer.
Rolling Out the Crust
As I'm rolling out my dough and spinning it to make sure it isn't sticking I like to make sure to pat the edges so that it stays a round shape. There will be small cracks on the sides and this helps me.
If there are bigger cracks, however, my mother taught me to keep the bit of ice water you used for making it and dab a bit on the edges of the broken area so that it gets sticky. Mend the area and sprinkle with flour...there, ... good as new.
The flour, moisture, and lard WILL build us on your working surface. To avoid a permanent mess I just take a flat edged butter knife when I'm done and scrape off everything and throw it away with my parchment.
Making It Pretty
You don't have to have a bunch of fancy pastry tools in order to make your pies stand out. Heres another video on quick stunning crusts made with tools you already have.
Now don't go into making this crust thinking you will be able to roll it out and make all sorts of cute decorations with this recipe. I did. Let me save you some time.... it WON'T work. Because it lacks gluten it lacks the ability to be as elastic as you need in order to work your crust.
I do not have a gluten intolerance... thank goodness, but I do have great friends that do. I think it's so sad they would be missing out on a delicious pie just because of one or two ingredients. So, I set to asking some of my most valuable resources (YOU) about how to solve this problem.
STREAMS of texts and emails with pictures of recipes and suggestions came in. I picked a few, combined them, and this is what I came up with.
It was a HUGE hit with the gluten-free crowd at our last Thanksgiving.
Makes enough pastry for one 9-inch single crust pastry
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1 cup Arrowroot Powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 eggs, chilled
3 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons Cottonwood Farm Lard (preferably leaf lard)
This is the GF free crust before the filling was put in. I didn't bake it beforehand and it was fine.
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The problem with making yogurt is that most of the recipes I come across require getting the milk up to a temperature that will basically pasteurize it in order for the cultures to work their magic. I have found the ONE my heart desires. It lets you retain the raw goodness of your milk while also setting up to form a thick yogurt.