I made this crust for an apple pie (my first try at apple pie). The apple pie turned out ho-hum. The crust? Maybe the best crust I’ve ever made. Flaky and croissant-like.
- 2 1/2 c. flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 c. butter, cut into cubes and chilled
- 1/2 c. lard, cut into cubes and chilled
- ice water
- Freeze the butter and lard at least 15 minutes. The longer the better.
- Place the flour and salt into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add half of the butter and lard cubes and pulse 6 to 8 times. Then add the other half of the butter and lard cubes and pulse 6 to 8 more times. You should have a mixture that resembles a coarse meal, with many butter and lard pieces the size of peas. (You can do this without a food processor by using two knives to cut the butter and lard into the flour mixture.)
- Add a couple of tablespoons of ice-cold water to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times. (To get the water really cold I put it in a cup in the freezer when I’m just starting to prepare the dough.) Then add more water, slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture just barely begins to come together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If not, add a little more water and pulse again. Note: Too much water will make your crust tough.
- Remove the crumbly mixture from the food processor and place on a very clean, smooth surface. Press the heel of your palm into the mixture, pressing down and mushing the mixture into the table top. Do this 4 to 6 times to help your crust get extra flaky. Then press the crumbly dough together and shape into a disc. Work the dough only enough to just bring the dough together. Do not over-knead. You should be able to see little bits of butter and lard peppered in the dough. When these bits of butter and lard melt as the crust cooks, they will help separate the dough into flaky layers. You should aim for visible pieces of butter and lard in your dough.
- Sprinkle the disc with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- When you are ready to roll out the dough, remove the disk from the refrigerator and place on a clean, smooth, lightly floured surface. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to take just enough of a chill off of it so that it becomes easier to roll out. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough to a 12 inch circle, to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough. Fill and bake your pie according to directions. If baking your crust before filling the pie, trim and flute the edges.
- Also if baking your crust: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prick the prepared pie shell with a fork in a rapid motion all over the bottom and sides, approximately 100 times. (This prevents the pie shell from puffing while it bakes.) Press two layers of tin-foil into the bottom and sides of the pie shell so that the pie retains its shape. Bake about 8 minutes, until the edges of the dough are beginning to look dry. Remove the foil and bake 6 to 10 minutes longer. The pie shell is done when the dough is light brown and looks crisp. Set aside to cool before filling.