Old-Fashioned Apple Pie with Flaky Lard Crust
Lard makes for a very flaky, tender crust, perfect for a traditional old-fashioned apple pie. If you prefer, you can use half lard, half butter. The acid in lemon juice or cider vinegar discourages gluten from developing. This same pastry dough minus the sugar is excellent for savory pies such as chicken pot pie. Makes 8 servings.
For a double-crust lard pie dough:
2½ cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup lard (6 ounces), very cold and in small pieces
2 tablespoons lemon juice or cider vinegar
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
For the apple filling:
3 pounds tart firm apples, preferably 3 different types
Juice of 1 lemon
About ½ cup sugar, brown or white, according to tartness of apples + more to sprinkle on top
1 tablespoon mixed ground spices such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut in small pieces
1 egg lightly beaten and thinned with a tablespoon of water
Coarse sugar to sprinkle on the surface
First make your pie dough. Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lard in the food processor and process to cut the lard into fine pieces like oatmeal. Add the vinegar with 6 tablespoons ice water and process just until the dough begins to clump on the blade. If necessary, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water.
Divide the dough in two, one half slightly larger, and wrap each round in plastic, flattening slightly. Chill for an hour or more.
On a lightly floured board, roll each pastry round to 1/8-inch thickness. Fit the larger into a 9-inch pie pan, allowing a generous overhang. Trim the edge to ½ and cover with plastic. Repeat with the second round and lay it on top. Cover with plastic and chill until you are ready to fill the pie with apples.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Peel, core, and slice the apples into wedges, thick or thin as you like, piling the slices into a large bowl. Stir the lemon juice into the apples. Mix together the sugar and spices, and toss them with the apples to distribute them well.
Remove the top pie crust and spread the apples in the pie pan. Dot them with bits of butter and moisten the pastry lip with water. Invert the second pie crust on top, centering it, and trim the edge. Tuck the rim of the top crust over the lower, press them together and crimp to seal the crust. Cut vents in the top for the steam escape. Brush the surface lightly a little beaten egg thinned with water and scatter granular sugar on top.
Set the pie on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350° and bake about 30 minutes longer, until the apples are tender and giving up their juices and the pastry turns golden. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.