It’s my opinion that the very best plain pastry for fruit pies and beef pies is a pastry crust made with lard and not vegetable shortening, oil or butter. A pastry made with lard is flaky and easy to work with.
What follows below is the plain pastry recipe that I use most often. Give it a try and maybe it will become a favorite in your kitchen too.
Ingredients for a Two Crust 9” Pie
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 Teaspoon of salt
- ½ cup of clean white lard
- 6 tablespoons of ice water
Sift the flour twice on a piece of wax paper or large plate before measuring.
Gently spoon the sifted flour into a measuring cup using a large spoon. Level the measuring cup off with the back-end of a table knife or spatula.
Place the sifted flour into a large bowl and add the salt. Stir to mix the salt and flour.
Next measure the lard into a ½ cup measure. Press it firmly into the cup so that there are no air pockets.
Add the lard to the flour and salt mix.
Rub the lard into the flour using your hands or a pastry cutter. Keep rubbing until the flour crumbs are about the size of lentils or rice.
Add the ice water very gradually about 2 teaspoons at a time. Mix well with a fork.
Only mix enough water so that the pastry dough can be easy picked up with your hands and not stick to the sides of the bowl. Divide the pastry dough into 2 balls.
Take care not to overwork the dough. Overworked pastry dough results in a tough crust. If the day is warm or the kitchen hot, place one of the balls in the refrigerator or cooler while you work on the bottom layer of the pie crust. Cool dough is the secret to easier dough handling and rolling out. A marble rolling pin can be helpful when the weather is hot or humid. The marble stays cool and is heavier than a wooden rolling pin.
On a piece of wax paper, pastry cloth or floured wooden board; gently roll out the bottom crust until it is just a bit larger than your pie pan. If the dough sticks at all, dust a little more flour on the rolling-pin and the board. Don’t be afraid to lift the pastry dough and turn it while rolling it out. Just don’t turn it over and roll it.
Line the pan allowing the pastry to overhang the edges of the pan.
Add the pie filling.
Roll out the top layer of the pie crust in the same manner but make it a little larger in diameter to allow for the extra area that the filling will take up.
Seal the two layers of pastry together by pressing them firmly but gently with your fingers. Trim off the top crust if necessary about ½” beyond the rim of the pie pan. Flute the pastry crust with either the edge of a spoon, fork, knife or your fingers.
Bake in a hot oven – 400°F to 450°F until the filling is done.
Cool on wire racks and enjoy.