The original Tenderflake Pie Crust
I have been making pies and pastries for many years and this Tenderflake pie crust recipe has never let me down. That’s why i call it No-fail. If you make it exactly as directed, you should get a perfect flaky pie crust. There are plenty of pie crust recipes out there, even I have more than one. But if I am making more than one pie or pie shell, the tenderflake pie crust recipe is my go-to. This is the one my mom used and probably my Grandma too, so why mess with tried and true? I don’t.
There’s something undeniably comforting about a well-made pie, whether it’s sweet or savory. And at the heart of any great pie is a flaky, buttery crust that melts in your mouth. When it comes to creating the perfect pie, one name stands out for me: Tenderflake.
Sometimes you just want one crust, there are recipes that yield one crust, but this one is so tender and flaky you might just make the full recipe and freeze the dough balls that you don’t need at the moment, so they’re ready when you do.
Tenderflake is pure lard and although it is the one that I always buy and use, if you don’t have access to Tenderflake I am confident any pure lard will work in this recipe. I haven’t tried but it should in my honest opinion.
Tenderflake Pie Crust
- 1 large bowl
- 1 pastry blender *or 1 knives
- 1 lb Tenderflake lard
- 5½ cups all purpose flour
- 1-2 tsp salt * I use 2 for savory pies, 1 for sweet *Up to you
- 1 Tbsp White vinegar
- 1 lg Egg, lightly beaten
- In a large bowl, mix together the 5½ cups all purpose flour and 1-2 tsp salt * I use 2 for savory pies, 1 for sweet
- Add in the tenderflake lard and using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the lard until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal with a few larger pea sized pieces.
- In a 1 cup measuring cup, add the egg and beat it a bit with a fork, then add the 1 Tbsp White vinegar and combine. Add water to egg and vinegar mixture to make 1 cup (250g) total liquid.
- Gradually, while stirring, add the liquid mixture to the flour and tenderflake mixture. Add ONLY enough water to make the dough cling together. If it isn't coming together completely you can add cold water 1 Tbsp at a time and mix between additions.
- Gather the dough into a ball and divide into 6 equal portions (4 if using deep pie plates or larger ones). Wrap and chill in fridge for 20 minutes or freeze if not using right away.
- Once rested, roll out each dough ball on a lightly floured surface. If the dough is sticking, return to refrigerator and chill an additional hour.
- Once rolled to your desired thickness, transfer the dough to the pie plate and trim or flute edges and bake according to your recipe.
Tips and Tricks for the best pie crust:
Creating the perfect flaky and tender pie crust is a combination of technique and ingredient selection. Here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve the best results:
- Quality Flour: Use all-purpose flour for a balanced crust. High-quality, unbleached flour works best.
- Cold Lard: Keep your fats very cold. Cutting them into small pieces and chilling them in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before use will make the crust flakier.
- Ice Water: Use ice-cold water to bind the dough. Fill a glass with ice cubes and water, then measure the water you need from that.
- Salt: A pinch or more of salt enhances the flavor of your crust. It’s a small amount but makes a difference.
- Don’t Overmix: Overmixing the dough can lead to a tough crust. Mix the ingredients until just combined. Some small lumps of fat are fine.
- Use a Food Processor or Pastry Cutter: These tools can help cut the fats into the flour without melting them with your warm hands.
- Chill the Dough: Once the dough comes together, form it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. This helps relax the gluten and keeps the fats cold.
- Roll It Out Cold: When rolling out the dough, work on a well-floured surface and use a floured rolling pin. Rotate the dough frequently to prevent sticking.
- Fold and Roll: For extra flakiness, consider doing a few folds (like a letter) when rolling the dough out. This creates layers.
- Pie Weights or Pricking: If you’re pre-baking your crust for a custard or no-bake filling, use pie weights or prick the crust with a fork to prevent it from puffing up.
- Egg Wash: Brush the top crust with an egg wash (egg mixed with a little water or milk) for a beautiful golden finish.
- Ventilation: For a double-crust pie, make sure to create vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
- Chill Again: If you have the time, after filling the pie, chill it for a short while in the freezer to firm up the fats before baking. This helps with flakiness.
- Preheat: Make sure your oven is fully preheated to the specified temperature. A hot oven helps the crust cook properly.
- Use a Baking Stone: Placing a baking stone or a heavy baking sheet in the oven can help distribute heat evenly, preventing a soggy bottom crust.
- Shield the Edges: If the edges of your crust start to brown too quickly, cover them with foil or a pie crust shield to prevent burning.
- Baking Times: Follow the recipe for suggested baking times, but also trust your senses. The crust should be golden brown and the filling should bubble if it’s a fruit pie.
- Cooling: Allow your pie to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. This helps the filling set and the flavors meld.
Remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempts aren’t flawless. With time, you’ll become a pie crust expert.