Tenderflake Pie Pastry: Traditional, With Butter and Whole Wheat Flour
Tenderflake Pie Pastry is the go-to recipe for every Canadian prairie home baker I know that makes homemade pies. This is the exact recipe, from the side of the box. However, I have learned a thing or two about making a great pastry over the years, and am definitely including my tips and tricks, as well.
Tenderflake Pie Pastry: Preparing the fat
How to make a great pastry is fundamental to pie making and Canadian pastry is vastly different than that of our European counterparts. Lard rendered from a pig is where it began: leaf lard from around the kidneys and loin of the pig. As it lacks any real pork flavor with a rich appealing umami taste, it is an excellent neutral cooking fat with a high smoking point. I have rendered my own lard. You can order leaf lard fat from any pork vendor at your local farmer’s market. Surprisingly, the Tenderflake lard was sweet when compared with the home rendered lards. Kevin Kossowan and I rendered our own lard and did a tasting with three crusts made with the Tenderflake Pie Pastry recipe: one with his rendered lard, one with mine, and one with the Tenderflake lard. The tasting was revealing as the pastry made with the home rendered lard was vastly superior. Not meaty, but deeply rich and savory when compared to the pastry made with the Tenderflake lard.
However, without the side by side tasting, the difference was difficult to describe or decern. So, a great lesson was had, but I was not compelled to render my own lard on a regular basis. I have also done another three way tasting using the Tenderflake Pie Pastry recipe with sample one using Tenderflake lard, sample two using only butter, and sample three a combination of both. The combination pastry was my preference. It didn’t deter from my taste memory or expectations in any way, yet was richer, more tender, more savory and maybe flakier. The pure butter pastry was delicious, but not the traditional pastry flavour I have grown to know and love. I make a double batch every time when making this fat combination in my pastry as I use one pound of each fat. Unsalted butter is important in this recipe as salted butter has a higher moisture content.
As I will be cutting the fat into the flour with my Thermomix, I prepare each batch of fat by cubing the pieces, then freezing or chilling them until ice cold.
Tenderflake Pie Pastry: Preparing the Liquid
The liquid mixture is combined: one beaten egg, one tablespoon of vinegar and water to make one cup at eye level in a liquid measuring cup. The flour is carefully measured and combined with the salt.
Tenderflake Pie Pastry: Making the Pastry
At this point, the fat must be cut into the flour. As this is a big batch for the Thermomix bowl, I added half of the fat a few seconds ahead of the remaining fat clearly explained in the recipe.
The fat cut into the flour should look like tiny sweet peas or like slow cooking oatmeal flakes. The Thermomix is a powerful machine, but the precision with which the fat is cut into the flour never ceases to amaze me.
Once the fat is cut into the flour, I pour all dry ingredients into a large bowl and work the liquid in with my hands by pouring in slowly into the side of the bowl and lightly mixing the dry ingredients to absorb the wet.
Sometimes the dough will come together in the bowl, and sometimes I pour it onto the counter to get the moist clumps to form together in a ball. This Tenderflake Pie Pastry recipe is made using whole wheat flour, while above was of white all purpose flour.
Mom might add a little more liquid to the above pastry, but it was a whole wheat pie pastry, and I could feel the weight of the moisture in it, and knew it just needed a two or three kneads to form a ball. Kneading pie dough is not a good idea. The less the dough is worked, the more tender and flaky the pastry will be, yet one or two turns will not hurt it.
Form pastry dough into a ball and divide into 6 equal portions. Each recipe makes enough for 6 single or 3 double shelled pies.
Form each portion into a disc.
Tenderflake Pie Pastry: Storing the Pastry
Each of the six portions is wrapped securely, labeled and dated clearly.
The discs need to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling or can be frozen at this point, bagged in yet another tightly sealed container or bag to promote freshness. I always freeze mine, but if making the pie the same day, just rest the dough on the counter, but if making later, refrigerate the dough.
Tenderflake Pie Pastry: Rolling out the Pastry
I lightly flour the surface area and use a sleeve over my rolling pin when rolling pie pastry. It is so slick and avoids anything sticking to the rolling pin. The pie dough below has a little whole wheat in it. Using the rolling pin to lift the rolled out pastry dough to lay it over the pie plate is a handy trick.
Whole wheat pastry is delicious with savoury pies. I don’t make that many, but use this same Tenderflake Pie Pastry recipe every time. Sometimes I add seeds, nuts or herbs when making special quiches or tarts, and that makes for a delicious crust!
After rolling the dough, it gets laid over the pie plate. There should be enough dough to drape down over the sides to enable some decorative fluting.
Tenderflake Pie Pastry: Fluting the Edges of a Pie
Lard, butter, lard and butter with white flour, whole wheat flour or a combination of the two is just the beginning. Before one can change the traditional Tenderflake Pie Pastry recipe, one has to master it. Then think about adding rosemary, or thyme to savory pie pastry doughs and nutmeg or cardamom to sweet pie pastry doughs. Just a touch. In any case: Make Pie!
Tenderflake® Pie Pastry with Variations
- 5½ cups or 850g of all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp or 10 g salt
- 1 pound or 465 grams Tenderflake® lard , rendered lard, or 1/2 lard and 1/2 butter, cubed
- 1 tablespoon or 15 grams vinegar
- 1 egg , lightly beaten
- Ice Water
Whisk flour and salt; cut in ice cold fat until it is pea sized or looks like slow cooking raw oats
In a 1 cup liquid measure, combine vinegar and egg; add ice water to make 1 cup
Gradually pour liquid around the edges of the mixture, mixing by hand, adding only enough for dough to cling together
Form gently into a ball; divide into 6 equal portions on counter
Wrap and label portions
Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes if you are using right away, or
Freeze for future use by placing wrapped pastry dough in container, tightly sealed
When ready to use, roll out each portion on lightly floured surface; If pastry dough is sticking, chill for another hour or two
Transfer rolled pastry dough to pie plate
Trim and flute shells or crusts and bake according to your pie recipe
Instructions for the Thermomix:
Weigh 850 grams flour and 10 grams salt into TM bowl; whisk for 3 seconds at speed 1-2
Weigh 1/2 of 465 grams ice cold fat into TM bowl; cut into flour for 3-5 seconds at Turbo
Weigh in remaining fat; cut into flour from 0-10 for 5 seconds
In a 1 cup liquid measure, combine vinegar and egg; add ice water to make 1 cup
Empty dry ingredients with fat cut into it into large bowl; gradually pour liquid around the edges of mixture, combining by hand, adding only enough for dough to cling together
Form gently into a ball; divide into 6 equal portions
Wrap and label portions; rest for 15-30 minutes before using, or
Freeze by placing wrapped pastry dough in container or labelled and dated freezer bag, tightly sealed
Thaw in fridge the night prior to using; roll each portion on lightly floured surface: If dough is sticky, chill for longer period
Transfer rolled pastry dough to pie plate; trim and flute shells or crusts and bake according to your pie recipe
I use a sleeve on my rolling pin which avoids any sticking. Rolling pastry dough on parchment paper makes for easy clean up (I reuse it, of course!)
Pastry flour or all purpose flour will use less liquid than whole wheat flour.
Adding herbs and spices, whole or ground nuts and seeds, cocoa or other flavours adds a lovely dimension to this pastry recipe