Friday, December 13, 2013

Pie Pastry

I learned to make pastry from my mother-in-law, Alma. She learned from her mother, who made pies at a little cafe in Harvard, Illinois. A young man came to the cafe often for the pie and fell in love with the pie maker's daughter. Alma is gone now, but I still remember her soft white hands delicately crimping the edge of a beautiful pie.

As Alma taught me, technique is important. The butter, lard and eggs must be at fridge temperature and worked swiftly so they don’t warm up. Always refrigerate the dough at least an hour before rolling.

Pie Pastry
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup lard
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 cup ice water

Fill a cup with water and drop in a couple of ice cubes.

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut cold butter and lard into pieces, dropping them directly into the flour. Work into fine lumps with a pastry blender. Using your hands, work the butter and lard between your fingers and thumbs until the mixture resembles course sand. Work quickly.

Measure 1/2 cup of ice water. Mix in the egg and vinegar. Stir well.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the liquid. Stir briskly with a fork, incorporating the flour and water as best you can. Then use your hands to press the dough into a ball, pressing the loose flour into the dough. Work quickly. Do not knead like bread. The dough may be crumbly, and that's okay.

Cut the dough into four quarters. Press each piece into a round shape, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least an hour before rolling for your pie. Here's a recipe for a simple, rustic apple tarte.

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