Top | Fat

Leaf Lard Pastry

(recipe, Jennifer McLagan)

Introduction

Light and flaky, this is my husband's favorite pastry, as he finds my sweet pastry almost too rich. This sort of pastry is better suited to tarts than to double-crusted pies. Lard pastry is easier to make and roll than an all-butter one, and provides a more neutral background, allowing the flavor of the fruit to shine.

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups (8¾ ounces) flour
  2. ¾ tsp. baking powder
  3. ½ tsp. fine sea salt
  4. ⅔ cup (4½ ounces) chilled leaf lard, diced
  5. ⅓ cup ice-cold water

Steps

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the lard and pulse until the lard is reduced to pea-sized pieces, about 15 seconds. Turn the mixture into a bowl.
  2. Pour the water over the flour-and-lard mixture and mix with a fork. Squeeze a bit of the mixture between your fingers. If it holds together, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface; if not, add another couple of teaspoons of ice water and test again.
  3. Gently knead the dough into a ball. Divide the pastry in half and flatten into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using. This pastry also freezes well.

Note

Also called flead or flare fat, leaf lard is the fat from around the pig's kidneys. Ideal for making pastry because of its brittle crystalline structure, this is the crème de la crème of pork fat. Ask for leaf lard at a reputable butcher. Farmers' markets occasionally sell it, although you may have to render it yourself. Do not buy the boxes labeled "lard" sold on grocery-store shelves, as this is partially hydrogenated. Variation: Replacing half the lard with cold butter — 2 ounces lard and 2 1/2 ounces butter — will yield a flaky pastry with a buttery flavor. Add the butter (the firmer fat) to the flour first.