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Good Pie Crust

Here is another clipping that looks like it came from either Jessie Young’s Homemaker or Kitchen Klatter’s Newsletter. Perhaps this was worth considering because it uses pure leaf lard.  What’s that? It’s made from the fat lining the abdomen and kidneys in hogs. Well, in our house, we were probably working with the lard resulting from the last time we butchered hogs. In my day, we didn’t butcher at home any more, so the hog fat was likely rendered at the locker plant.  When we ran out, Mom bought lard and I’m remembering a green and white rectangular cardboard container that was on open shelves in the grocery store and not refrigerated. Whether it was “leaf lard” I don’t know, but Mom was probably on the look-out for it after clipping this recipe. 

Another interesting thing about this recipe is that the lard is not chilled.  In most recent pie recipes and advice that I find in cookbooks or the internet there is a lot of emphasis on having the fat and the liquids very cold.  Mom never told me that.  I wonder if it really makes a difference or not.

Good Pie Crust

For a one-crust pie
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pure leaf lard
2 1/2 Tblsp water

For a Two-crust Pie
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup leaf lard
3 1/2 to 4 Tblsp water

Measure flour without sifting. Add salt and sift into mixing bowl.  Add lard (not chilled) and blend with pastry blender till mixture looks like coarse meal.  Sprinkle water over the surface of the flour and mix gently.  Dough will hold together, but will be dry enough to handle.

Shape portion to be tolled into a ball; place on lightly floured pastry cloth or board and roll lightly.  Fold and transfer to pan, pressing into place.  Bake single crusts at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.


Davis Pies

Three clippings appeared on one page for pies, but what’s a pie without a good recipe for the pastry.  One another page I found the pastry clipping in a similar font, so I’m thinking they all came from the same issue.  This print style may have come from the “Kansas Farmer” or “Grass and Grain”.   Wouldn’t it be great to end a Sunday dinner at Mrs. Davis’ house with a choice of either cherry pie or chocolate?  I think it would have been rude to ask, “Can I have some of both?”  What a decision to make! 

Davis Pastry

For a 2-crust pie, she always uses the following recipe.

2 cups sifted flour
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cool water

Combine flour and salt, but in shortening with pastry blender.Sprinkle in water, about 1 tablespoon at a time and mix with a fork.  Divide in half, pat into balls.  Roll out on floured cloth.

The Davis Cherry Pie

This sweepstakes prize winner is Mrs. Davis’ own recipe

2/3 cup cherry juice (sour, canned)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups well-drained canned cherries

Combine cherry juice, 2 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch and cook until thick.  Have ready 1 cup sugar and add it gradually to the cooked mixture, stirring constantly.  Continue cooking until thick.  Add butter and cherries, but do not cook.  Pour into unbaked 9-inch pie shell, add top crust and bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned, about 35 minutes.

Chocolate Cream Pie

2 cups milk
2 ounces bitter chocolate
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Scald milk in double boiler and add chocolate which has been cut fine.  Beat smooth.  Mix dry ingredients and add gradually to hot chocolate mixture  in double boiler.  Stir constantly and cook until thick, about 10 minutes.  Ad a small amount of it to beaten egg yolks, then stir egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture.  Cook for 1 or 2 minutes longer.  Cool, add butter and vanilla.  Pour into 9-inch pie shell.  Add the following meringue.


3 egg whites
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar

Combine egg whites, salt and cream of tartar.  Beat until foamy.  Add a tablespoon of sugar at a time and continue beating until it forms stiff peaks.  Spread on pie until it touches the edge of crust at all points.  With a fork or spoon raise meringue in peaks before baking.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

Apple Pie

Here’s another pie recipe from the Kansas Farmer, likely the March 20 1957 issue.  

Apple Pie

For apple pie, Mrs. Davis prefers winesaps but any tart apples will be satisfactory

6 large tart apples
2 tablespoons butter
1 to 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pare and slice apples thin.  Melt butter and pour over apples.  Mix dry ingredients and combine with apples.  Place in unbaked pie shell.  Top with second crust and bake at 375⁰ almost 1 hour.

Heavenly Apple Pie

Our garden had an orchard of sorts.  There was a cherry tree, a big Bradford Pear tree, several peach trees and apple trees.  Some of the apples were Winesap, but I don’t really know what the other kinds were.  At least one of them was an early bearing variety and a green apple.  Mom used to make pies with them, of course, but she also canned applesauce.    I remember coming home from school in the fall and finding my dad helping Mom deal with apples or peaches when they were in season.  They had to be processed before they spoiled.  It wasn’t fun to peel them in years when there were lots of bugs.  My parents would plan to be sure and spray the trees next season so they didn’t have to deal with it again.  

My husband Al likes to get new fresh apples in the fall.  Our daughter has an apple tree, so when the year is good, we are happy to take some of them off her hands.  We have a mechanical apple peeler, so that helps a lot. Al generally prepares pie apples for the freezer with the sugar, flour and spices already in it.  That way we have apple pies any time of the year.

What I find odd about this recipe is that is calls for freshly cooked or canned apple slices.  Well, I guess I’ve bought apple pie filling before and it was cooked.  However, some of the apples I’ve gotten would actually turn mushy if pre-cooked.  I guess that would be an applesauce pie, huh?

Heavenly Apple Pie

Line a 9-inch pie plate with your favorite pastry. The filling requires these ingredients:
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons flour
5 cups freshly cooked or canned apple slices
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons butter or margarine

Blend sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour.  Arrange apple slices and sugar mixture in alternate layers in pastry shell, sprinkling top with lemon juice.  Dot with butter.  Cover with pastry; make slits for steam to escape.  Bake in a 425-degree oven 45 to 50 minutes.

For a shiny crust, brush top with milk before baking.  Variations: sprinkle a little cinnamon over apples; allspice and cardamom also lend elegance to the pie; as soon as pie is removed from oven, sprinkle with grated cheese.

How do you decorate your top layer of pastry?  Do you just cut slits in it like this recipe indicates?  My Mom taught me to decorate it before putting on the top crust.  We use a  butter knife to cut two curved stems.  On each side of the stem we use the tip of the butter knife to press indentions looking like leaves up and down each side of the stems.  So pretty!  If I don’t put that on my pie, I just feel like I’ve done something wrong!

Lemon Pie

I don’t think that Mom made a lemon pie very often.  Part of the problem, I suppose, was that lemons weren’t a commodity you have handy on the farm.  You have to remember to buy them.  Of course, you can buy a bottle of lemon juice, but I don’t think that was as available as now at that time.  Mom would buy oranges and lemons, sometimes, to make orange-aid, so it would have been do-able at that time.  I just don’t see Mom making a lemon meringue pie, though.  I imagine she had a taste of them at a neighborhood pot-luck at Reserville and when she saw this recipe, she added it to her collection.

I notice the recipe lists egg yolks among the ingredients, but apparently supposes you would know enough to use the egg whites from those eggs to make your meringue!

Lemon Pie

6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup lemon juice

Combine cornstarch, sugar salt and grated lemon rind in top of double boiler, add boiling water, cook over direct heat until mixture boils.  Place over boiling water and continue cooking for 10 minutes.  Ad a small amount of hot mixture to the slightly-beaten egg yolks and return to double boiler, mixing well.  Cook 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add butter and lemon juice.  Pour into 9 inch baked pie shell.  Top with meringue, spreading carefully to touch crust at all points and bake at 350⁰ for 12 to 15 minutes.


Yes, but can she bake a pie?

At the bottom of the clipping on the fourth page is a pie crust recipe. It is oil based and the kind you press into the pie pan, as opposed to rolling it out. I’ve made oil based pie crusts a few times, but they seem to be more crisp than flaky. And, flaky is what I’m out for.

Real Good Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable or salad oil
2 tablespoons milk

Stir up and press around in pie pan. Don’t roll. — Mrs. Cecil (Janet) Rauch, Deep River, Iowa

To be able to make a great pie crust is truly a talent. Mom decided it was time for me to learn when I was about in the seventh grade. During this phase I would make pies on Saturday afternoons for Sunday dinner. If you’ve messed with pie crust much, you know that during the learning process you will have many failures, or “not-so-good” results. I remember one raisin pie that I had to patch together the top crust. When Daddy saw it he had to laugh…….I was embarrassed! My confidence in making a pie crust didn’t run very deep. I remember on  a visit Vera and Francis, after being married at least 5 years, I confessed I still couldn’t make very good crust. How shameful! Well, anyway, Mom had told me to remember 1-2-3…..1 cup flour, 2 Tablespoons water and 3 Tablespoons lard. So, that ratio is what I compare any pie crust recipe to. As for me, I’m still practicing.

I found this recipe for pie crust in Mom’s handwriting up the side of a page much further back in the cookbook. Looks like a reminder for the proportions to use. This actually works pretty well for me.

Best Pie Crust

1 cup flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup water

What about you? Do you mix and roll your own? Or, do you get your pie crust in the refrigerated section at the supermarket? I confess, I do that pretty often myself. But, occasionally I experiment with pie crusts again. I had a food processor for a while until I melted it in the dishwasher. I tried the food processor for a few times, but that was too much equipment to fool around with. Besides, another bit of advice from Mom was to not work the dough any more than necessary because it will be tough. I supposed that’s something to do with the gluten in the flour. Working dough is good for bread, not for pie.

When I’m in my experimenting mode research is a big part of it. I find that quite a few recipes call for butter, but for me, that just complicates things. I haven’t used lard for years, although earlier in my marriage I certainly did and the flavor was great. Now I use vegetable shortening. Butter flavored Crisco makes a good flavored pie crust, but my very favorite texture and flavor uses only flour, shortening and water with a bit of salt.


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Real Good Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup v egetable or salad oil
2 tablespoons milk

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