Miracle Flaky Lard Pie Crust

"'For years, I wondered why people raved about lard pastry. Mine was either falling-apart-tender or flaky and tough. But I'm glad to have persevered, becasue a lard crust made well has no equal. It is more tender, more flaky, and more crisp than any other and doesn't shrink even if baked only an hour after mixing. It also browns less fast than a butter crust, making it convenient for pies that require longer baking. Lard crust is ideal for savory pastries. You can use half butter, but it is not quite as light, though very close, and for savory food, I prefer the flavor of all lard. Pastry flour produces the most tender crust. I like to roll out the dough on whole wheat flour for extra texture and flavor, which is compatible with the lard flavor. The success of this crust depends on the quality and temperature of the lard.' -Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie & Pastry Bible. Cook time is freezer/refrigeration time."
photo by a food.com user photo by a food.com user
Ready In:
1hr 45mins
1 9inch pie shell


  • 1 13 cups pastry flour, plus 4 teaspoons (6.5 ounces/ 184 grams) or 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (if using all-purpose flour, reduce the water by 1 teaspoon for more tenderness)
  • 12 teaspoon salt (use 3/8 teaspoon if using rendered caul fat)
  • 18 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 cup cold lard (4 ounces/ 113 grams, if using commercial lard, use 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons; if using rendered caul)
  • 14 cup ice water (2 ounces/ 59 grams)
  • 4 teaspoons cider vinegar (0.7 ounce/ 20 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour or 2 tablespoons wheat flour, approximately


  • Place a medium mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.
  • Place the flour, salt and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag, and whisk them together.
  • Using a melon baller, scoop 1/2-1 inch balls of the lard directly into the flour, shaking the bag occasinally to distribute and cover them with the flour.
  • If the room is warm and the lard starts getting very soft, place the bag in the freezer for about 10 minutes before proceeding.
  • It is is still firm but squishable once it's all been added, using a rolling pin, roll together the lard and flour until the lard is in thin flakes.
  • Place the bag in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  • Empty the flour mixture into the cold bowl, scraping the sides of the bag to release all of it.
  • Set the bag aside.
  • Sprinkle on the ice water and vinegar, tossing gently with a rubber spatula to incorporate it evenly.
  • Spoon the mixture back into the plastic bag (if using caul fat, which is softer, the dough will already hold together, so it's easier to empty it out onto a piece of plastic wrap and knead it lightly from the outside of the wrap).
  • Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.
  • Sprinkle the dough on both sides with a little whole wheat flour, wrap it with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight.
  • STORES refrigerated up to 3 days; frozen, up to 3 months.
  • NOTE: When rolling the dough, roll it directly on the counter or on plastic wrap.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the dough and the counter or plastic wrap amply with whole wheat flour as needed to keep it from sticking.
  • (The whole wheat flour will not toughen it and will give it extra crunch and a lovely, wheaty flavor.) POINTERS FOR SUCCESS: Pay particular attention to temperature, keeping the lard well-chilled.
  • When mixing the lard flakes/flour mixture with the liquid, stir gently so as to maintain large flakes of lard.

Questions & Replies

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  1. I followed the typical fashion of making pastry in the food processor (all dry ingredients first, then pulsed in the lard and finally added the water and vinegar and just pulse until it came into a ball. I then chilled in the fridge for 2 hrs. Pastry was beautiful! Light, flaky, easy to roll and nice tasting. This will now be my only pastry recipe. Thanks for sharing!
  2. I've made this twice now. I was attracted to the reviewer's detail oriented approach and apparent refining of the recipe/approach. Both times, the recipe yielded a much too wet dough. The final result was indeed a tender crust, but not at all flakey (and I used All Purpose flour!). Even as a beginner I was not impressed at all. I did not realize until after researching pie crust recipes that the liquid in a crust cannot be measured; you have to go by feel, giving only enough liquid to pull the dough together. Also, some experts say that a flaky crust cannot be obtained with pastry flour because there's not enough protein. This recipe is complicated, whereas the majority of recipes out there call for QUICK combining of the cold ingredients, avoiding overworking. A food processor is the best approach according to what I've read. Now I am trying it again. I am still inspired by this recipe; keeping with the vinegar for extra flakiness, and the large chunks of lard for better flakes. But I am using AP flour, a food processor, and adjusting the liquid rather than using a pre-set amount. ******UPDATE******: The 4th time is a charm!! I finally got an OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD super-flaky crust unlike any crust I have EVER tried!!! I used the ingredients here, opting for AP flour. I FROZE the lard rock-hard in a shallow wide dish, then cut it into big pieces. Then I made the whole crust in the food processor, pulsing it 5 times between spraying the water/cider vinegar solution over the mixture, until the mixture would stick together without falling apart when pressed in a fist. Resume at step 12. Simply AMAZING!!!
  3. this makes a good pastry, however i did not follow all the rules. I used chilled lard, blended it with a pastry blender, added the liquid, formed the ball and chilled. It turned out good, I do not know if all those extra steps woould have improved the product.


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