Pie-Gate: Lard vs. Butter

Screw the upcoming election. Here at Cookies and Salt, we know what’s really been on your mind: What type of dough should you use for your pies this holiday season!? Lard or Butter???? The indecision!! The agony!!!

Well, lucky for you, the Cookies and Salt team has launched a preliminary investigation to resolve this hot-button issue… our very own Pie-gate, if you will. We will be examining which dough will make your holiday pies sing and which one will disrupt the very fabric of this nation (and yes, the fabric of this nation is made of pies).

When deciding the winner, I analyzed not only the flavor and texture of each crust post-baking, but I also looked at how easy each each dough was to work with when making my pies. I will list the recipe for the lard pie crust I used down below and link my butter pie crust  for the sake of time (no one has the time to read an 8 page blog post on pie, not even me). So lets get to it.

*It is important to note that every recipe is different and changes the result of a bake. So view these results with a grain a salt. You may have unlocked the secrets to pie crust nirvana and had completely different results, which, in that case, I congratulate you, oh mighty pastry ninja.

The Preliminary and Very Official results of LARD vs. BUTTER

Butter Pie dough had distinct flaky layers
Texture: Butter Pie dough had distinct flaky layers

Texture: When baked, the lard pastry was much crumblier in texture than the butter pie crust. The butter based pastry more reminiscent of a typical of pie dough, with flaky layers throughout the crust. If you’re making pie, I would go with a butter based dough, though I was intrigued by the possibility of using the lard based pastry as a starter base for a nice cracker (because that’s what intrigues me: crackers).

Though there are pockets of air, it has more of a definitive crumb than definitive layers.
Texture: Though there are pockets of air, it has more of a definitive crumb than definitive layers.

Taste: This was a tie. They were both really tasty. The final judgment really comes down to your own personal preferences. The lard-based pastry was a little more savory, while the butter is much more…well buttery? My husband preferred the lard based dough, while I preferred the butter base. At the end of the day, both were good and we ate way too much pie dough.

Workability: This is where the lard dough literally fell apart
Workability: This is where the lard dough literally fell apart

Workability: This round definitely went to the butter pastry. Both were easy to roll out; however, the lard based pastry cracked during the rolling process and was especially difficult to transfer in one piece to a pie dish.

 It worked best to press the lard based dough into the pie pan, rather than roll it out and transfer it to pie pan.

 

And Butter Dough for the Win!

The Final Verdict (for now at least): For pie, the winner was definitely the butter-based pie crust, if for no other reason than it being so much easier to work. I still would use the lard based dough for a shallow tart, where the crumbliness of the dough would be less of a factor. I also really want to take the lard-based crust to the science lab for some tweaking or for a nice cracker experiment. Because here at Cookies and Salt, that’s what we do: Think of new ways to combine pork fat and carbs.

Cookies and Salt Disclaimer: I received no payment or reimbursement of any kind for writing this post. The opinions expressed in this post are my own. You may think they are funny, but you also may think they are dumb. We all have our own opinions about pie and that’s ok. Pie gives people the all the feels, me included.

For the Recipes Used in this Science Experiment See Below


Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cups lard, put in the freezer for 30 minutes before using and cut into 1/2″ pieces *If you can’t get lard, try vegetable shortening).
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons very cold vodka (I keep vodka in the freezer anyway)
  • 2 Tablespoons ice water (plus more just in case you need more liquid to help the dough form)

Equipment:

  • Food Processor (if you don’t have a food processor you can use pastry cutter, two butter knives to cut the pastry, or even your hands if you are really in a bind)
  • Cutting Board dusted with flour
  • Plastic Wrap for storing

*If storing in the freezer for later use, you will need to wrap your pastry dough in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.

Process:

1) In the food processor, add the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse 2-3 times until combined.

2) Add the pieces of lard to the flour mixture and pulse until fine crumbs form similar to sand.

3) Add the vodka about 1 tablespoon at a time pulsing between each addition until pea size crumbs and clumps of dough start to form. To see if the dough is ready, gather some crumbs in your hand and squeeze them together. If a dough forms (and stays pretty much formed) then your pastry is ready. If you need to add a little more liquid go ahead using ice cold water.

4) Place the crumb/pastry mixer on floured cutting board or bowl and form into disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You can also chill it over night or even freeze it for up to 1 month.

 

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2 Comment

  1. I want to try your butter crust! My fiance loves pie, so I need to learn! Wish me luck 🙂 this weekend I will bake to mend my broken heart!

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