LARD & VINEGAR RECIPE
No matter which way you cut it when making pie dough, it takes some form of fat to make a good pie dough. You can use Lard, Butter, Shortening, all fats. However over the years the best pie dough’s and crusts with the nicest brown flakey crusts seem to come from the use of lard, with that being said the on tired and true extra ingredient is cider vinegar.
You may think that the use of an acid like vinegar in a pie crust is just some old wives tale passed down over generations, NOT SO, when you add water to flour it causes the gluten in flour to start forming, while great if you are making bread, not good if you are looking for nice flakey pie crusts. What vinegar does in a pie crust is add acid to it, this acid helps to relax the dough in combination with the lard, butter or shortening you are using which in turn slows the formation of gluten.
DO NOT OVER WORK your pie dough!! When you add the fat to the flour it should be cold, using a pastry blender and chopping down into the flour/ fat mixture just blends it enough but does now knead or work the dough, then adding the liquid you want to just mix enough to form a nice soft workable ball, the heat of your hands will quickly start breaking down the fat. this is why it is very important to wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to chill (if in a hurry the freezer) but watch it. so that it does not freeze, not bad for the dough, you can make it up and store in the freezer until ready to use, however you will need to thaw it.
Please don’t feel bad if your cannot roll a pie dough into a perfect circle, I never could, however it just does not make a difference in the end product, With the scraps you have left you can make into a ball again and roll out (the end result will be tougher crust) however what we do with this is make a Poor Man’s Pie. You can even line a pie pan with the scraps instead of Rolling out., that recipe will follow also.
OLD FASHIONED FLAKEY PIE CRUST
Makes 1 double crust pie or 2 single crust pies
3 cups Flour
1 cup Shortening (my preference is LARD) should be cold
3-5 Tablespoons ICE WATER
1 Tablespoon Vinegar (we always use cider vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon Salt (added to flour )
Place flour in mixing bowl, cut in shortening with a pastry blender or if using a kitchen Aid, just pulse the mixture until it resembles meal or small grainy texture, Adding your ICE WATER, and your vinegar, 1 tablespoon at a time and pulsing mixer or using pastry blender until the dough starts to form a manageable ball. (This does not take long and the amount of water will vary) you get a feel for this after doing it for a while as to what just feels right.
When you have a nice soft ball of dough, wrap it up in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to rest. and chill. (this makes it easier to roll out.)
I pat the ball down into a circle with the palm of my hand so that it is flat on the top, then just start rolling in all directions. A pastry cloth is an invaluable accessory for this in the kitchen as well as for biscuits.
**NOTE: On the amount of Crusts you get from this recipe, if you are like us, and use the old fashioned “Country Ceramic or Stoneware” pie plates (large) then you usually can get the bottom crust and a top crust, just pinch off a larger amount of dough for the bottom, depending on the filling that you are covering, ie. mincemeat, softer fruits you top crust can be thinner, however if covering a large apple pie and your apples are piled up then when you make the pie dough just add a bit more flour say 1/2 cup bit more lard etc. as apples are harder and sharper and you thinner top crust may tear while working with it. (Yes the voice of experience here, been there done that)