Berry Rhubarb Pie with Lard Crust

berry rhubarb pie
berry rhubarb pie

Last summer, I was obsessed with this crust. This summer, I have turned to this one instead, but just to make sure I had all of my crust bases covered I tried a leaf lard and butter combo crust which for some is the holy grail of pie dough. It was wonderfully tender and flaky with really nice flavor thanks to the butter, but to be perfectly honest, I thought the texture was very similar to crust made with shortening. I'd love to hear if any one else has made pie crust with lard and has a different opinion on the matter, please feel free to share your experience in the comments below!

For the filling, I went with a sweet-tart combination of rhubarb and dark berries. I find that blueberries and blackberries make fine accompaniments to rhubarb (much better than sticky-sweet strawberries) but a handful of raspberries or currants would also be wonderful addition to the mix if you have them around. These photos got lost in the shuffle, so I actually made this pie about a month ago during the height of rhubarb season, but I can still find rhubarb (although much less of it) in my local market and I hope you can too.

I've heard the super processed lard available in grocery stores can be unpleasantly "meaty" in flavor so if you'd like to attempt a lard crust of your own, check your local butcher shop or farmer's market for leaf lard. If you live in NYC you can find leaf lard at Flying Pigs Farm's stand at the Union Square or Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets.

Berry Rhubarb Pie with Lard Crust

The lard in this dough makes for an exceptionally flaky and tender finished crust, substitute non-hydrogentated shortening for a vegetarian dough that is equally tender or substitute your favorite crust recipe. This is a no crust-judgement zone. Also, I found that this dough was soft and a bit tricky to work with, so I rolled it out between two pieces of parchment paper.

For the Crust

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

12.5 ounces all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

6 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

4 ounces cold leaf lard

1/2 cup ice water

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Use a fork or pastry blender to cut the cold lard into the mixture until it is well combined. Add the butter and cut in until there are pieces ranging from the size of peas to the size of lima beans. Make a well in the center and pour in the ice water. Using a rubber spatula, work quickly to distribute the ice water into the mixture without over mixing. If the dough seems dry or crumbly, add more water one tablespoon at a time. Dump the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide into two pieces. Form each piece into a disk and wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour before rolling. I prefer to refrigerate my crusts overnight.

For the Filling

1 lb rhubarb, chopped into 1/4'' pieces

1.5 lbs mixed black and blueberries

7 ounces sugar (1 cup)

pinch cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

zest and juice from 1 lemon

2 ounces flour (about 1/4 cup)

Combine the flour, sugar, spices and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the rhubarb, berries and lemon juice and toss gently to combine.

For the Topping

1 egg, beaten

A few teaspoons of coarse sugar such as turbinado or light demerara

To Assemble and Bake

Preheat oven to 400º

1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough into a 12'' circle about 1/8'' thick and place it into a 9 or 10 inch pie pan. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the pie.

2. Roll out the other piece of dough into a 12'' circle about 1/8'' thick and place it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.

3. Fill the prepared pie shell with the berry mixture and top with the second crust, crimp the edges and cut a few vents. OR If you've got some extra time and you'd like to make a scalloped crust like the one pictured, crimp the bottom crust before adding the filling, then use a 1 1/2'' round cutter to cut circles from the second pie crust. Starting from the outside, arrange the dough circles in slightly overlapping, concentric circles on top of the filling.

4. Slide the whole pie into the fridge or freezer for about 15min before you bake it to firm up the crust. When you are ready to bake, carefully and gently brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkle with a healthy dose of coarse sugar.

5. Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes on the lowest rack of your oven, then lower the oven temp to 375º and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble. Cool the pie completely before serving.

berry rhubarb pie