Today's selection from the Handwritten Recipes blog is Pie Crust. The recipe was found in a copy of An Old Sweetheart of Mine by James Whitcomb Riley (Bowen-Merrill, 1902), and it's a variation of the Never Fail Pie Crust recipe that I shared back in February 2010. There are some differences in proportions and quantity, but the inclusion of vinegar and egg reveal their close relationship.
The recipe as found is a simple list of ingredients:
3 C. flour
1 C. lard
5 tbl water
1 tbl vinegar
It's possible that at least some people reading this may not have had experience making a pie crust from scratch. So let's standardize the recipe by reformatting the ingredient list and adding some instructions:
Makes pastry for 1 deep-dish pie
3 cups flour
1 rounded teaspoon salt
1 cup lard (½ of a 1-pound box)
5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vinegar
In a large bowl, stir the flour and salt together. Add the lard to the bowl. Using a pastry blender or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cut the lard into the flour until the mixtures resembles coarsely grated bread crumbs.
Beat the water, vinegar, and egg together in a small bowl until well-mixed. Pour this into the flour mixture all at once and stir roughly with a fork until the pastry comes together into a ball of dough. (In a stand mixer, switch from the whisk to the dough hook and pour the liquid in while the mixer is running.) The dough will be somewhat sticky.
Flour your hands and a breadboard or tabletop well, and remove the pastry from the bowl. Knead it lightly two or three times - just long enough for the extra flour to take away most of the stickiness. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic or toss it into a plastic food storage bag, and put it into the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
When ready to make a pie, divide the dough ball into 2 halves. Roll each half out on a floured surface, using additional flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface or to the rolling pin.
To try out the recipe, I made a simple, 9-inch apple pie. The pastry held together nicely, but I found it to be a bit more susceptible to cracking than my usual Never Fail recipe. Nevertheless, it handled and rolled out pretty easily. It was totally delicious - perfectly flaky, as you can see from the photo here, and just melt-in-your mouth tender. And pretty easy to make as pie crusts go. Definitely easy enough for a beginner, so if you're in the habit of buying those refrigerated pie crust circles at the supermarket, you might want to try this recipe just for kicks.
The recipe, as I noted, would be enough for a 10-inch deep dish pie. I had enough pastry left over from the trimmings to make two little apple pies for the kids. Gathering up the trimmings, giving them a bit of a knead to make sure they held together, and then rolling them out did not make the pastry tough - those "second rollings" were just as awesome as the Master Pie.
See the original recipe at Handwritten Recipes here.