29 January, 2011

Handwritten Recipes: Pie Crust

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:
Pie Crust

3 C. flour
1 C. lard
5 tbl water
1 tbl vinegar
1 egg

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:

Pie Crust
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
1 egg

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.

Another keeper!

See the original recipe at Handwritten Recipes here.


Anonymous said...

HI! I like this crust recipe alot. Thanks alot. Great poat, love to see old recipes :)

tree ocean said...

great looking pie! The last pie I made was wild blueberry/ Flour, butter*, salt, iced water. Then brush the top crust with beaten egg and sprinkle sugar on top before baking...yum

*most recipes don't call for just butter, but I prefer it. Keep an extra light hand and make sure the butter is not at melt point- just soft.

Leeanne said...

you're brave, I've never ventured beyond the refrigerated crusts. but I'll file this one away for the future.