Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pie #1: Peach and Cherry with Lard Crust

"What the Soviet Union was to the ideology of Marxism, the Low-fat campaign is to the ideology of nutritionism-it's supreme test and, as now is coming clear, its most abject failure." Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

I have been reading a lot about food lately, fancy that, and my ideas about eating fats have begun to shift. I don't want to get all technical at the moment since it is a Sunday evening and I just had a glass of wine but basically, new fats like hydrogenated oils and corn oil are bad and old fats like, lard, butter, coconut oil and olive oil, to name a few, are good. I am oversimplifying here to avoid writing a twenty page post, but basically we have been sold a lie that margarine and crisco are healthy and our health as a nation has suffered from it. I will elaborate on this more another day.

So when I read about the benefits of lard, I immediately wanted to bake a pie. I got Flying Pigs Farm leaf lard from the farmers market on Friday and got rolling yesterday afternoon. Leaf lard, I learned, is fat taken from the middle of the pig and makes for delicious, flaky pastry dough. 

The lard had a slightly bacony, sour smell when I was making the pastry dough but the end result was indeed the most flaky crust I have ever had. I brought the pie to an evening, rooftop bbq and the general consensus was, "That pie was awesome." 

I think I'll make it again.

Happy Belated, Belated Birthday Victoria.

4 cups peaches
1 can sour cherries in water (not syrup), reserve the juice
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
2 tbs. cherry juice
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
pinch salt
1 tbs. butter

If you're using fresh peaches, you'll need about four large ones. To easily remove their peels, score a little x onto each peach and drop them into boiling water, about a minute or two each until the skin slides off. I do this in my rice cooker. Slice the peaches 1/2 inch thick. However, peaches are not in season so I, gasp, used frozen ones. Make sure they are thawed first. Drain the cherries, reserving the liquid and check there are no pits. Combine the ingredients except for the butter. Set aside.

Two Crust Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 cup frozen lard
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbs. ice water
lightly beaten egg whites

Set your toaster oven or regular oven to 350 degrees. Making pastry is tricky and the proper tools are essential. To really do it right you need a pastry cutter (pictured up top with the lard) a pastry cloth and a rolling pin cover. Cut the lard and salt into the flour until it is well blended and resembles small crumbs. With a wooden spoon mix in three tbs. ice water. If it's a warm day and I'm about to handle the pastry, I run my hands under cold water and dry them off.

Separate the pastry dough into two clumps. The less you handle the dough the better your crust will be. Lay out your pastry cloth and dust with flour. Dust your rolling pin and cover with flour as well, and form the pastry into a ball, kneeding twice so it's not falling apart. Roll out the dough always starting from the center and rolling out to it's edge, so it is several inches larger than your pie plate. To get the pastry onto the plate, lift and roll one of the edges of the pastry over your rolling pin and roll the pin until you've lifted the pastry off the pastry cloth. Slide the pastry over the plate and trim around the crust so that there is an inch of pastry beyond the lip of the plate.

Lattice Top: Roll out the second crust and with a knife slice the dough into long, inch wide strips. Pour the pie filling into the pie plate. Lay the center, and longest, strip of lattice onto the center of the pie. Then use every other strip of lattice to lay on either side of the center piece so they are all running in the same direction. Repeat this process by criss crossing the remaining strips at a ninety degree angle, starting from the center working out, like the picture above.

To crimp the edges, tuck the top and bottom crusts under each other all the way around the lip of the plate and using your left thumb and pointer finger on the edge of the crust, press your right thumb into the pastry towards your left fingers to make a little indentation. 

Brush with an egg white wash.

Bake for one hour or until the filling is bubbling. Keep an eye on the crust, especially if you're using a toaster oven to make sure it doesn't burn. If it's getting dark, put aluminum foil on top. This may increase the baking time. When the pie is done try to let it cool for a couple of hours to room temperature before devouring it. 

Serve with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.


  1. i was so sorry i missed the chance to eat this. it looks beyond gorgeous.

  2. My god you are amazing...It looks delicious...where there is a will there are many ways (in your case):o) many meals:o) Shakti

  3. OK I just read all your recipes, and I'm hungry. I think I'll start here, on the wild side, with the lard. My dad's wife used to make tortillas with lard, I think. I'm pretty sure. But she doesn't anymore thanks to one of those ideological state apparatuses. Margarine is a crime. TV makes people fat. Viva butter!

  4. Yay! Lets make lard sexy again. I think a half butter, half lard crust would be good as well. Thank you for your post, Erica