Flaky & Delicious Spelt-Lard Pastry
It's a well-kept secret that real lard produces flaky pastry. And, if you're after a very tasty pastry, lard is the answer again. One of the benefits of raising pigs is that we end up with some creamy, delectable lard. We use it in a few ways when cooking meals, but some of the lard is always saved for baking. Can't make a good pie crust without it! Lard is a healthy fat for cooking and baking, and is rich in nutrients. This is particularly true of the lard from pigs raised on pasture (ie raised outdoors and eating greens), and eating non-GMO grains. So, we can feel good about eating it and also enjoying the delicious flavours that lard creates in baking!
Here's my favourite recipe for pastry. It's quick and easy to make, and is delicious. This can be used for pie shells for both sweet and savoury pies, galettes (free-form tarts), and tarts.
2.5 cups spelt flour
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cut in slices or cubes
1/3 cup cold lard
1/4 cup cold kefir or buttermilk
1/4+ cup very cold water (you'll likely need a bit more than this)
Stir the flour, sugar and salt together in a medium or large bowl
Add the butter and lard, and cut them into the flour with a pastry blender (or a large fork). Aim to have pieces the size of peas and some the size of small almonds. In other words... not super-tiny pieces.
Add the kefir and water, and gently stir to combine. There should still be some unmoistened flour in the bowl, but most of the dough should be holding together.
Dump the contents of the bowl onto the counter. Separate out about a Tablespoon of the dough. Using the heel of your hand (the part of your hand below your thumb), smear the dough against the countertop in one or two motions. Repeat with all the dough, about a Tablespoon at a time. This is to shear the butter/lard into thin layers with the flour.
[A photo of this will be posted soon, once I figure out how to get a good photo of the process!! Do you have any tips?]
Gather up the dough, and form it into 2 disks. A metal scraper works best to gather up the bits from the counter without over-handling the dough.
Set the 2 disks into the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Or, wrap the disks directly in plastic wrap.
Chill the dough for at least an hour before proceeding with the recipe. This is very important!
Confession: I used to always skip this step, but found out last year that it makes a huge difference in the quality of the pastry. So now, I make sure to always chill my pastry before rolling it out.
When you're ready to work with your dough, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.
Sprinkle a generous amount of spelt flour on the counter, and roll the pastry in strokes from the center outwards. If the dough is stiff (cold), let it rest for a few more minutes to soften for easier rolling.
From here... use the pastry to make the recipe of your choice! Some bakers recommend chilling the pastry again after it's rolled out and in the pie plate or tart tin... and then fill the chilled shells for baking. I have had good results by skipping this step, but this is a step you might want to try.
And that's all there is to it! This recipe has great flavour, and works for all types of fruit pies, quiches, meat pies, butter tarts, etc.