I love making (and eating!) pie. There’s nothing better than a good flaky pastry and a lousy crust just makes me sad. For this recipe I’ve found that pinching the butter into thin flakes between my fingers is quicker and easier than flattening it with a rolling pin or rubbing it into the flour between my fingers; it’s also less of a hassle than having to drag out the food processor and deal with cleaning it later. It’s worth it to seek out pastry flour for this recipe. I’ve made it using all AP flour and it isn’t as light and flaky. Cake flour can be used instead of pastry flour in a pinch. Shortening can be used instead of the lard, but the taste won't be the same. If using the dough for a savory pie, omit the sugar.
Recipe adapted from The Los Angeles Times. —sunick
enough dough for 1 (9- to 10-inch) single-crust pie
(1 stick) cold unsalted butter
ice water, more if necessary
2 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/4 cups
cold leaf lard
In This Recipe
Cut the stick of butter lengthwise down the middle, then flip it on its side and cut it lengthwise once again so you have 4 long strips. Cut the butter crosswise into 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick slices so you have 4 cubes per slice. Place the butter in the refrigerator or freezer while you prepare the flour mixture for the dough. Combine the ice water and cider vinegar together in a small container. Place this in the refrigerator to keep it cold while the flour mixture is being prepared.
Whisk together the flours, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl (a wider bowl works better than a narrow, deeper one). Add the lard to the flour and, using a pastry cutter, incorporate it into the flour until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
Add the butter to the flour. Using your hands, toss the butter with the flour (like tossing a salad), while breaking apart all the slices of butter into the smaller cubes. Working as quickly and lightly as possible, pinch the butter cubes between of your thumb and forefinger to make thin discs. Do this while keeping the butter thickly coated with the flour so it doesn’t get soft from the heat of your fingers and prevents the flakes of butter from sticking to each other. Toss the mixture occasionally to find any cubes that still need flattening.
Drizzle in the ice water mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and toss with a fork until just moistened. Depending on the weather you may not need all of the water or you may require a little more. There will be shaggy clumps of dough but they will all come together later. The dough should be moist throughout but not feel wet when pressed with your finger.
While rotating the bowl with 1 hand, push the dough between your fingertips and the side of the bowl to gather it into a ball. Turn the dough and any loose crumbs onto a large piece of plastic wrap and squeeze it into a ball by pulling the sides and ends of the plastic tightly together. Flatten the ball into a disc by alternately pounding the top with the heel of your hand and the sides against your work surface. Wrap the disc tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, before rolling out and forming into the crust.