1 Apt. 2B Baking Co.: Berry Rhubarb Pie with Lard Crust

Monday, July 29, 2013

Berry Rhubarb Pie with Lard Crust

berry rhubarb pie
berry rhubarb pie
rhubarb and berry 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.

peonies berry rhubarb pie


  1. Great post, this looks deeelish. I will definitively try fraisage, I usually do an intermediate folding with my dough (as with the rye dough of Good to the grain) but this looks intriguing. Usual lurker but I had to jump in re: fat in crust as this is something that I obsess about (in a non-crazy type of way)(or not). I find that shortening, lard, etc. does give a lot of smaller flakes to the higher melting point, and that the dough holds its shape better -- but I tend to stay away from shortening since anything that can stay good on the shelf for 10+ years I find suspicious. I usually do a mix of butter and duck fat, with the ratio depending on the fruit. Apple for instance works quite well with the savouriness of duck fat but cherries... not so much. For those fruits where I want to keep the texture but minimize the duck taste a 1:4 ratio of duck fat: butter works well. Also have you seen this? Now that's my type of investigative reporting: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/dining/15crus.html?pagewanted=all

    1. Laura, thanks so much for chiming in with your pie crust fat expertise! I honestly have never thought about using duck fat for a sweet pastry, I'm intrigued...

  2. What a beautiful pie! I have very little pastry experience, but this summer I am determined to make a pie completely from scratch. This looks like a lovely recipe to start with, especially if I can get my hands on some rhubarb. Thankfully, many of my friends have more rhubarb than they know what to do with!

  3. me oh my that is one perfect looking pie! hallelujah!

  4. So very pretty and I really think your crust is beautiful and so textural. I like the addition of blackberries and blueberries too. It's so good to mix it up!

  5. Yossi, this is such a beautiful post. Especially love what you did with the top crust. And, there's nothing better than a pie crust made with lard.

  6. mmm just found your blog on twitter... Love your photography and your food.. beautiful! x

  7. Beautiful pie, Yossy! I still have some rhubarb in my garden, so I might have to give this a go...

  8. What a beautiful Pie. I love this flavor. Thanks for sharing

  9. Loved this post Yossy! I competely agree with you about rhubarb and dark berries. This summer I made a rhubarb raspberry and rhubarb blueberry pie and feel that they play off the rhubarb much better than strawberries do. They add a nice depth and complexity of flavour.

    I've been using a half butter lard pie crust for a while with great success but would love to move to something that uses less super processed lard. However, I haven't had success with an all butter crust either, I find the dough quite heavy and sometimes difficult to roll out. Perhaps I need to try it again.

    I've wanted to try Brandi's fraisage method for some time now, do you find that it's quite time consuming though if you need to do multiple batches?

  10. This pie looks so warm and delicious! I love warm pie with cold ice cream. This pie will be perfect for the fall!
    You have a wonderful site and a new follower!


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