With Thanksgiving and winter holidays around the corner, talk of pie has started to creep up everywhere.
You can’t browse the internet without stumbling over someone’s advice for pie crust, and a novice baker could easily be overwhelmed with options.
Some swear by shortening, others by all butter. One cookbook instructs you to use vodka, another lists apple cider vinegar. Your grandmother uses pastry flour, your mother uses all-purpose.
More: Three ways to fancy up your pies.
I’ve always used an all-butter pie crust. No vodka, no vinegar. Five simple ingredients, regardless of the type of pie or quiche in question. I love that recipe, and I’ll surely be writing more about it in the coming weeks as I play around with fillings and fruits.
But in the spirit of my back-of-the-box recipe experiments, I thought I’d audition another crust. This one comes from Tenderflake, a Canadian lard company. The all-lard crust has a slightly vinegar tang, reminiscent of British hot water crust pastry used for savory pies.
My filling is a very basic combination of peeled and sliced apples with a little lemon juice, flour, and cinnamon and sugar to taste. I rarely use a recipe here and just eyeball the amounts. Be sure to prepare the filling at least 1 hour in advance of baking to allow the apples to release some of their juices. Either discard the excess liquid or boil it down in a saucepan until syrupy and drizzle it over the filling.
I do like the crackly, flaky crust with apples, but, in my opinion, the inclusion of vinegar lends itself better to savory fillings or quiche. If you do go sweet, use it with hardier, less delicate fillings like apples or pumpkin.
As you can see from the photos, the crust is harder and breaks apart more sharply than does the softer, slightly more pliable flaky pastry crust. The overall effect is nicely shattered bits of crisp pastry strewn amongst your soft apple filling, and it tastes as lovely as it sounds.
Before the crush of holiday baking, try out this crust. Bake a spinach quiche on a Wednesday night, or an apple pie on a weekend afternoon, and see what you think. Does it earn a spot in your all-star pie roster?
Adapted from Tenderflake
Makes 3 double-crust pies (6 total dough pieces)
cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound lard
1 egg , lightly beaten
1 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup ice water
Second photo by James Ransom; all other photos by Posie Harwood