Introduction: Perfectly Tender and Flaky Pie Crust

About: Tate is an artist, occasionally a curator, author, social designer as well as a frequent workshop facilitator focusing on utilization of available materials, tools and site specificity.

This pastry recipe uses a combination of lard-butter-vinegar in combination with the usual suspects to produce which is all kinds of tender and flaky. If you're vegetarian or just aren't into using lard, substitute for vegetable shortening and refrigerate the dough more often. If you're wondering why the vinegar, and you probably should be, it is because it inhibits the development of gluten.

Again, refrigerate the dough, pretty much after each step, to keep the fats from melting; you want little pieces of fat still solid in your dough to create a flaky texture and you want to work the dough as little as possible to keep your dough tender.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Tools and Materials:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
6 ounces cold butter, cut into pieces
7 tablespoons lard (or vegetable shortening for all you vegetarians)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water

Helpful tools include:
A pastry knife/cutter/blender.
A pie shell.
Plastic wrap and parchment paper.

Step 2: Mix Your Ingredients:

  • In a large bowl you will want to mix your flour, salt and sugar.
  • Next you will want to cut in your butter and lard...for this I like to run the pastry cutter along the side of the bowl into the center of the ingredients, then I pull it out while turning the bowl slightly and repeating until the ingredients form little pea-sized lumps.
  • In a small bowl or measuring cup mix your vinegar with 5 tablespoons ice water and then cut it into the flour mixture. If the dough is too dry, add the remaining 2 tbsp of water. Combine your ingredients until a handful of dough just sticks together when squeezed lightly but you are still able to see chunks of unmixed butter in the dough (this will be especially evident when you roll the dough).
  • Separate the dough into two equal portions, wrap with plastic wrap and sit it int he fridge for 1-2 hours.

Step 3: Rollin'

  • After your dough has chilled in the refrigerator you should remove one half of the dough and roll it between two sheets of parchment paper until it is a between 3-4mm thick. 
  • Place the dough, between the parchment paper, back in the refrigerator.
  • Repeat with the other portion of dough.
  • Leave both flat pieces of pastry in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Step 4: The Final Countdown...

  • Once again remove your pastry dough from the refrigerator. Remove the parchment paper and place the sheet of pastry into a pie or tart pan.
  • You can use the second portion to make another open-top pie or use it to cover the first.
  • Refrigerate your uncooked crust(s) again, for about 20 minutes.
  • Remove your crusts,  fill with your pie ingredients of choice and bake at 400F/205C for 15-20 minutes.
*In this recipe I used a mince filling.

Now, enjoy your perfectly flaky and tender pie crusts!
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