When I think of summer, I think of pie. Cherry, peach, blueberry… I could live on fruit pie during this time of year, and I also like to freeze pies now for later in the year. There is something wonderful about pulling out a blackberry pie for dinner in February, right about the time when I can barely remember what fresh fruit tastes like. I am especially excited now that I have found the secret ingredient for perfectly flaky crust every time: leaf lard.
The folks at Wooly Pigs would like you to know you can do much more with their leaf lard than make great pie crusts. This is true, but it is also the secret to a pretty amazing crust. Curious what exactly is leaf lard? It is the highest grade of lard obtained from the pig, has no “piggy” flavor, and therefore is ideal for use in baked goods.
Think using lard is gross? In my mind, nothing is grosser than using Crisco, which is made from highly-pesticide-laden cottonseed oil, which is then partially hydrogenated to turn the liquid into a solid. I am pretty sure my body knows how to process lard, a natural product, better than it does Crisco, which is made in a lab. I still use mostly real butter in my crusts, but I have found that substituting 1/4 cup of leaf lard for some of the butter makes for the best crust I have ever made.
Finding leaf lard can be the tricky part. We are lucky here in Seattle to have quite a few local farmers who raise pigs, but the lard is generally only available after the animals are slaughtered, often requires that you render it yourself, and is quickly sold out. The folks at Wooly Pigs had it on hand this summer when I stopped by their stand at the University Market, and fully rendered too. Good news for those of us who don’t want the mess of doing it at home.
Pie Dough with Leaf Lard
Adapted from The Bakers Dozen
*This makes enough for a double crust recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter
1/2 cup leaf lard
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup ice cold water
Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the butter and lard until the mixture is crumbly, with a few coarse, pea-sized pieces of butter. Sprinkle in the water and mix with a fork, adding just enough until the mixture is moistened and begins to clump together. Gather up the dough and form into a flat disk. You can use this dough immediately.