Being able to turn out a decent pie crust is not that difficult, really! Follow these steps and I think you’ll like the results whether you’re a newbie or an old hand at pastry making.
My Mom’s Pastry For Pie’s – For 2 or 3 Double Crust Pies, depending on the size of the pie pan. I love using this crust for fruit pies.
Mom didn’t have a food processor so made her crust using a hand held pastry blender. My version uses that most handy piece of equipment, a food processor! She also never used wholewheat flour, but I think it adds a nice bit of nuttiness. I am pretty sure this is her adaptation of Tenderflake’s recipe. We knew it as “Never Fail”. She always baked her pies in glass pie plates and so do I because I believe they give a nice, crispy crust that is not the least bit soggy.
This Recipe is Enough for Two 8 or 9″ Pies
For the Crust:
4 cups unbleached flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. ice-cold Tenderflake lard or fresh lard if you can get it, cut into 1” cubes
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of the food processor. If your processor cannot accommodate the full amount, simply do the dry ingredients/lard steps twice.
In a 1 cup measuring cup combine vinegar and egg. Fill up to 1 cup with ice-water.
Add the cubes of lard to the dry ingredients, using on/off turns, cut in until it resembles coarse oatmeal. Remove to a large bowl and add the egg/vinegar mixture, stirring with a fork until it clumps together. Adding more water if it appears too dry. The dough should not be dry. Gather into a ball and divide into 2 wrapping each half in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours before using. You can also freeze this dough.
Pastry for Savory Tarts – both are equally good
For One 8-9” pie crust
1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
4 oz. cold butter cut into 8 pieces
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup ice water, more if necessary
Place flour and salt in food processor. Add the cold butter, process, using on/off turns until the texture of oatmeal, with tiny pieces of butter. Dribble the ice water over the mixture. Process, using on/off turns just until mixture clumps together, adding more water a bit at a time until it does. Do not over process or the dough will be tough. Remove to a clean work surface and using your hands form into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutues and up to 1 hour. This can be made a day ahead and chilled. Remove from the fridge and let soften just enough to roll out easily without the dough breaking, approximately 1 hour.
Roll out the dough on a floured work surface, until 2” or so larger than the pie plate you wish to use. Fold the dough in half or quarters and place into the pie plate. Unfold the dough and fit into the pan, pressing ever so lightly and not stretching the dough. Don’t worry if it breaks a bit, it can easily be patched. Cut off excess dough and crimp the edges the way you like. Chill for 30 minutes. Prick the pie shell all over with a fork.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Remove pie shell from fridge, line with foil or baking parchment, fill with pie weights, see my cooking tips. (I use dried white beans; they a lot cheaper). Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, just until crust is lightly golden. Remove from oven; lift out pie weights and cool shell. This can be done the day before. (The dried beans can be stored in a container for future pie making).
You are now ready to fill with the filling of your choice.
This works well for sweet or savory pies and tarts. You will likely get Two 8 or 9″ tart shells from this recipe. If you wish you can freeze half the dough for a later use.
Make the Crust:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
½ cup each cold butter, lard or shortening, cubed (frozen lard or shortening works quite well here)
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. vinegar
The method is exactly the same as the previous dough done in the processor, or if you don’t have one do by hand using a pastry blender for best results.
Re using lard: lard is a natural fat unlike hydrogenated shortenings and makes a really nice flaky pastry. If you prefer not to use lard then the 1st version would be a good choice.