Basic Tender Pastry

Basic Tender Pastry

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We’re excited to share Sheri Castle‘s recipe for a basic tender pastry featuring Firsthand Foods’ leaf lard. Adaptable for pies or tarts, this recipe consistently delivers a delicious flaky crust. You can purchase our leaf lard at Weaver Street Market or from our on-line store. Enjoy!


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
1/2 cup (4 ounces) lard, cut into small cubes and chilled
1 large egg
1 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water


Makes pastry for one double-crust 9-inch pie, two 9-inch pie shells or two 10-inch tart shells

Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Scatter the cubes of butter and lard over the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender or fingertips to cut the butter and lard into the dough until the mixture resembles wet sand with a few pieces of fat the size of small peas. Whisk together the egg, vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the ice water in a small bowl, whisking until there are no long strands of egg white. Pour this over the flour mixture. Stir with a fork or fingertips until the mixture forms large clumps of dough. If the dough is too dry to come together, sprinkle in more water 1 teaspoon at a time. Gather the clumps into a smooth ball of dough. Divide the pastry in half and shape each piece into a ball. Flatten each ball into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. This gives the pastry time to rest, so the flour can continue to absorb the liquid and the pastry will be easier to handle. 

When ready to use the pastry, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to let it warm up just enough that it won’t crack when you roll it. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. Invert the pie plate or tart tin over the center of the pastry. Slide your hand under the paper and quickly flip the whole thing over. Peel off the paper and press the dough into the plate, pinching closed any cracks. For pie, turn under the pastry that sticks up beyond the edge of the plate and crimp the edge. For a tart, use your fingers to press the pastry against the metal edge of the tin to make it even with the top. Wrap the shell in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day. Cold fat going into a hot oven is what makes the pastry flaky. Plus, cold pastry doesn’t shrink during baking.

To prebake or partially bake the crust, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the pastry with a sheet of parchment paper large enough to cover the edges. Fill with pie weights or uncooked dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment and weights and continue baking until the crust looks dry and golden, about 8 minutes longer. Place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.