It was an old-fashioned family Sunday dinner. Roast leg of pork with lovely crackling and deep rich gravy. Fresh from the garden jewel ruby beets peeled and roasted with brilliant orange carrots. And for dessert pie with blueberry filling flavoured with just a whisper of cinnamon and lemon .
We were eating our own farm-raised pork. The pie crust was made with leaf lard I rendered from our pig. We bowed our heads respectively and thanked our pig for what it had provided. Very few of us can raise our own meat. You can however shop farmer’s markets and support small independent butchers for organically raised meat. Your appreciation for food changes when it does not come plastic-wrapped from the super market.
When I plan a dinner menu I almost always start at the end. The dessert! You always remember the last thing you eat. I have been on a pie making binge using leaf lard ( the Rolls Royce of lard) as part of the fat in my pastry. After experimenting using leaf lard in my many recipes this particular recipe wins the blue ribbon. Ask your butcher for leaf lard. It weights about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds and is the highest grade of lard. It is obtained from the fat deposit around the kidneys and inside the loin of a pig. It’s ideal for use in baked goods as it has little or no pork flavour. It is the well-kept secret of pastry chefs around the world. It is easy to render yourself.
|PIE DOUGH MADE WITH LEAF LARD - the most flavourful and flaky crust ever!|| |
- 2 1/12 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbs vanilla flavour sugar (see chef's notes following)
- 6 ounces very cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 2 ounces very cold rendered leaf lard (or vegetable shortening)
- ¼ to ½ cup ice water.
- This recipe uses a food processor. See chef's notes following for alternative method.
- Whisk your flour,salt and sugar in a metal bowl and put into your freezer for 30 minutes.
- Put the bowl and cutting blade of your food processor in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Fill your 1 cup liquid measuring cup with ice cubes and water and store in refrigerator. You want the water VERY cold.
- Put your butter and leaf lard in the freezer for about 15 minutes before you are ready to proceed with the recipe.
- Add the butter to the flour mixture in the food processor. Using the pulse button process the butter just until you have a few large lumps of butter left. Do not over process. As you continue the recipe the large lumps will continue to break down.
- Add the leaf lard and pulse briefly. Do not overmix.
- Add the very cold water all at once. Pulse just until absorbed.
- Turn out the mixture into a large bowl. Squeeze the dough. If it easily forms a ball it is done.
- Form into two balls. One slightly smaller that the other (this will be the top crust). The pastry may look a little ragged.
- Press the balls into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. The dough will be a little crumbly.
- Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before you are ready to roll it out.
- Roll out your dough. If you find it sticking avoid adding too much flour by rolling your dough between two sheets of parchment paper.
- To assemble your pie
- Drape your dough into your pie plate leaving a ¾ inch overhang and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Roll out your top dough between two parchment paper sheets, put on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Assemble your pie with your filling and crimp the pastry edges together.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Place your pie on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet and bake in the lower one-third of your oven for to 20 minutes or until the pie starts to brown slightly.
- Reduce heat to 350F continue baking for 30 to 35 minutes until the crust is a dark caramel colour and the fruit is bubbling around the edges and through the slits in the top.
- Let the pie cool before serving.
When I am baking I remove seeds from the vanilla bean for my recipe. I put the bean into a jar with a couple of cups of sugar and give it a good shake. Let the sugar sit for 2 weeks to attain peak flavour before using it. Keep adding more sugar to the jar as you use it. One vanilla bean will last through several jars of sugar.
The secret to making perfect pastry with leaf lard(or vegetable shortening) is to have all the ingredients very very cold. Leaf lard and vegetable shortening become warm faster than butter.
The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
To make this pastry by hand whisk your flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender or two forks cut in the butter and lard making sure to leave some chunks of butter the size of peas. Stir the ice water into the flour mixture until a ball forms. work quickly and do not over mix. For the mixture into two disks. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.