I made apple pie last night using some of the leaf lard that I rendered from our hogs to make the crust. Actually, I had made a cherry pie earlier in the week and my husband hardly came up from his plate all the while moaning with pleasure over the taste. So, when he asked me to make another pie, I of course had to oblige! ;-)
When I made the cherry pie, I made the crust with leaf lard exclusively. Having only made crusts with either butter or shortening, I noticed that the "feel" of the crust was different as I was making it. Before I made my crust yesterday, I decided to do a little bit of research and found this article from the New York Times where the author talks about making pie crusts with a mixture of leaf lard and butter.
Carefully confected with part butter and part freshly rendered lard, this pie pastry was everything baking-book authors and bloggers wax poetic about: a golden-brown-around-the-edges epiphany richly flavored and just salty enough to contrast with the sweet apple filling, the texture as flaky as a croissant but still crisp. It shattered when you bit it, then melted instantly on the tongue.
Of course after reading such an eloquent description of pie crust made with lard and butter, I had to try it for myself. While I can't lay claim to the title "Expert Maker of Pie Crusts", I must say that the combination of lard and butter did produce the best crust I have ever made.
I used the following recipe for my crust. It did make enough dough for a deep dish, double crust pie and I had enough left over, that I made a single pie shell for another pie later in the week.
Lard & Butter Pie Crust
4 c. sifted flour
1 heaping tsp. salt
1 cup lard
1/2 cup butter
1/2 c. ice cold water
Place the four cups of flour in a bowl. Mix in your salt. Mix lard and butter together and then using your fingers, gently mix lard/butter mixture into the flour/salt mixture. This will produce a crumbly mix.
Next, create a well or hole in the center of your flour and lard mixture and pour in a small amount of water.
Work the flour gently into the ice cold water. You want the flour mixture to be damp and to start sticking together, but you don't want it to be soaking wet. Continue to add water a little at a time and work in the flour until all the flour is damp. It's very important to not work or handle the dough any more than you have to. The less it is handled and worked the flakier the pie crust will be. In fact, my goal is always to only have to roll the dough out once. If the dough sticks and you have to roll it out again, you compromise the quality of the crust.
Divide your dough in half and roll out one section at a time. Line the bottom of your pie plate with the dough, put in your filling, roll out the top crust and place on top. You then can crimp the edges with a fork or make fancy fluted edges.
For this particular apple pie, I used the apple pie filling that I canned earlier in the fall. However, you can use fresh apples as well. To make apple pie using fresh apples, I peel and slice the apples and sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar and about 3 Tablespoons of flour. I put this in the bottom crust, put a few pats of butter on top and then put the top crust on the pie and bake.