Yes, that's right, lard. In between all the other details in the construction process, I have been working on formulating a menu of foods that we can legally sell at the Taproom. We are applying for a 20-C license from the NYS Department of Ag and Markets so that we may be able to offer a nice selection of foods to our beer drinking customers. Going the route of actual food service is JUST. TOO. DAMN. HARD. Hear that, health department. Don't even get me started on all the crazy health department rules.
And that brings us back to lard. Yep, lard. I have been trying to perfect pie crust for 20 years. (True, I have no life.) I have tried everything to get a delicious and flaky pastry dough - vinegar, vodka, yogurt, you name it. Never tried lard, though. While I was shopping for holiday food at the Honest Weight Co-Op, I picked up a small tub of baking lard from The Piggery in Ithaca, NY. What the hey, I say. I had a recipe at home, just plucked from the pages of the New York Times food section, that was calling for it.
Well, that lard was nothing short of a revelation. The sausage roll recipe, based on similar rolls sold at pubs all across Britain, was a success. The pastry was light, flaky and shatteringly crisp. It even had flavor! It held up and remained flaky and crisp even the next day. Wow!
Next I used the same dough recipe and made an apple galette. Bingo! Now, you'd think that lard would impart some sort of off flavor in the dough, but it does not. It does smell a little weird right out of the tub. It's not exactly a pleasant smell, but once the pastry is baked, the smell is no longer there. Even with the sweet version, the crust was flaky and delicious. Of course, we can't say how it would have held up the next day as my family ate the entire thing for dessert with our New Years' Day dinner.
Here's my version of that flaky crust recipe to use for a galette:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1 stick butter, cubed
4 tablespoons baking lard, in small chunks
Put the cubed butter, baking lard, and water, each individually in the freezer for 15-20 mins. Measure out the flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix the flours and salt for a few seconds. With the paddle attachment going at low speed, add the chilled butter cubes and baking lard. Continue to mix until butter is the size of peas. Add the 1/2 cup of chilled water slowly and continue mixing until the dough just begins to hold together.
Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead slightly to get a cohesive ball. Flatten the ball into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
Place the chilled dough disc on a floured board or countertop. Flour your rolling pin and begin rolling out the dough just as you would any pie crust. I found this recipe made enough dough for about a 12 inch diameter galette, after the edges had been folded over. If you roll it thinner and divide the disc in two, you might get enough dough to make an 8 inch double crust pie.
BTW - This rolls out beautifully straight from the fridge, yes it does! No cracking.
Fill your galette or pie crust as you normally would, brush with egg wash or cream and bake in a 375 degree oven on a parchment lined cookie sheet for about an hour or so for the galette or until nicely browned and crispy.
Lard is my new best friend. Make it yours, too.