On Tuesday night I went over to Mindy's to make pies. Mindy had received two pounds of lard from her sister last time she was visiting Minnesota and we finally got around to using some of it. I have made several pies in my day, but never with lard in any quantity. I normally use some sort of butter to vegetable shortening ratio. We used Morrell Snow Cap Lard and a simple crust recipe from an old Betty Crocker cookbook
Lard is strange, as one might expect. Silky yet tacky, translucent yet opaque. We blended our ingredients in a food processor and rolled out our first batch. We found that we had skimped on the water, being fearful that we would add too much. The dough rolled quite well, though split at the sides as we rolled larger. When we folded the dough to transfer to our pie pan, the seams split and we had to do a large amount of 'patching,' which basically meant we had about 15 different pieces of what was moments ago a nice piece of circular dough.
The second time around we came out with a lovely dough that rolled quite well and transferred much better than the first (though we still had a few splits).
We were amazed at how silky the lard made the dough. When cooked, the crust melted in our mouths. It was incredible. It was such a change for me not to have to rush through making the crust before the butter softened too much. It made the whole process less stressful. Though, I have to say that I do enjoy the taste of a butter crust better and if I were to use lard again I would likely substitute some butter for a portion of it.
This was a great experiment and I learned some interesting things to keep in mind concerning lard and pie crusts (thanks to Mindy's family).
1) NEVER put the lard in the microwave.
2) The lard must be room temperature before you use it, so be sure to pull it out in advance. Remember, no microwaving.
3) If you use diet Sprite (not regular, it has to be diet) in place of the water the crust recipe calls for, it can produce a flakier crust. We did this with our second pie and it seemed to be a bit flakier. I will have to experiment with this more to see how it affects the taste, etc.
I had a great time baking pies with Mindy. I hope to do it again soon.