Homemade pie crust is as old-school as it gets. You know your grandmother never used store-bought, frozen pie crust. Neither should you.

To get the flaky texture, you have to do the same think you'd do when you make biscuits—keep the fat (butter and lard) from mixing in with the flour. In fact, making biscuits and pie dough is essentially the exact same process. The only differences are the ingredients used and the ratio of ingredients. 

When mixing the dough, take care to keep all the ingredients as cold as possible and be sure not to overmix the dough. You want to keep the butter and lard in little chunks mixed in with the dough. You migh tremember from my biscuits post talking about the benefits of lard and shortening for a flaky texture but their biggest downfall being a lack of flavor. So why does this recipe use lard? Well, exactly for that flaky texture. Since we use both lard and butter, we get the best of both worlds. If you can't find lard, feel free to substitute the lard with equal parts butter.

While biscuits use baking powder for leavening and must be baked right away, pie crust doesn't require leavening and can be stored in the fridge for up to four days or the freezer for a couple of months. In fact, refregerating is a necessary part of the process to allow the dough to settle and to make it easier to roll out.

Pie Crust

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces butter, very cold
  • 3 ounces lard, very cold
  • 1/3 cup water, very cold

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Chop the cold butter and lard into 1/2 inch chunks and add it to the flour mixture.
  2. Using your hands, begin to pinch the chunks of butter and lard between your fingers to break the pieces into smaller chunks. The mixture should resemble a coarse cornmeal. Working quickly will keep the butter and lard from warming up. (For an easy food processor method: Mix the flour and salt togther, then add the butter and lard chunks and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal.)
  3. Add the water and knead the mixture until it comes together and holds its shape. (Food processor method: Add the water and pulse just until a dough forms.)
  4. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or until the dough is firm enough to work with. Store in the freezer if you plan to use it after four days.
  5. Cut the disk in half, placing half back in the fridge while you work with the other half. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, moving the dough often to keep it from sticking, just before baking. Roll the dough out to abotu 1/4" thickness, and large enough to fit the bottom and sides of a pie dish. Place back in the refrigerator and roll out the other disk for the top of the pie. Store in the fridge until ready for filling and baking. 
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