There are a million ways to make a pie. Maybe more, I haven't actually counted. That being said, of all the pie crust recipes I have made this one seems to be the favorite of most samplers. It is really flaky but not crumbly. I found it in the Cayoosh Elementary Cookbook, submitted by Ginny Byrne.
Never Fail Pastry
5 cups flour
1 lb lard
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vinegar
Mix together first 4 ingredients using 2 knives or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Mix next 3 ingredients together in a 1/2 cup measuring cup, beating with a fork. Add enough water to fill the 1/2 cup. Add to dry mixture. Use fork to mix initially then bring together with your hands. (Try not to work it too much or it gets tough. The least amount you can handle the dough the better)
Divide into 3 parts. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge. Will keep in fridge for about a week. Can be frozen. Simply thaw in fridge overnight to use. Makes enough for 3 double pie crusts.
You can, of course, use this for whatever kind of pie you like. Today I made a pear and blackberry pie. Why a pear and blackberry pie you ask. Well, because that is what I had on hand. It actually worked pretty good as a flavor combination. A little sweetness, a little tartness, some nutmeg and cinnamon, good to go!
I would like to give you the exact recipe I used but, unfortunately, this was one of those throw everything into a bowl, give it a stir, and hope for the best kind-of recipes. It went something like this:
Pear Blackberry Pie Filling
6 pears, peeled and sliced
1 1/4 cup blackberries
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Toss all ingredients in a bowl. (Pretty tricky, right?)
Okay, now to assemble the pie. Roll out your pie dough and place it in a pie pan. Sprinkle with a little more flour, sugar and cinnamon. (You don't want to miss this step. The extra flour thickens the juices as the fruit cooks and prevents the crust from getting too soggy.) Now, neatly dump the bowl of fruit into the shell. Roll out another piece of dough and cover the fruit filling. Seal the edges of the pie together, gently pressing with a fork or between your fingers. Poke several holes in the top crust so the steam can escape. (That photo above was me being all fancy schmancy. I used a cookie cutter to cut rounds of dough and layered them in a circular pattern on top of the fruit.)
Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes then turn the oven to 350 F and bake another 50 minutes. Depending on how stuffed full of fruit - and how ripe the fruit is - your pie may take more, or less, time. Keep an eye on it and check for doneness with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. Let sit for at least half an hour before serving so the juices have time to thicken.
Helpful tip - I have an oven liner in the bottom of my oven but, if you don't have one of those, you may want to place an old baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven as fruit pies tend to bubble over and cause quite a mess. Fires even. Yup. Fires. Learned my lesson the hard way.
Another helpful tip - if you have had a fire in your oven do not, I repeat DO NOT bake anything else in the oven until you completely clean your oven. Trust me when I say everything tastes like burnt oven crunchies if you bake in an oven that had a fire and you didn't clean it before baking something else. Learned that lesson the hard way too.