I was recently down visiting my parents and Dad and I went out to pick the cascade berries. Cascades are a cross between raspberries and blackberries, and quite tasty, so I brought some home to make a pie as the blackberries aren’t quite ready yet. I have a few pastry recipes I routinely turn to, but decided to try a new one.
Lard has always been my go to for pastry making, as that’s what I grew up with, and lard was the only shortening I had on hand in sufficient quantity, so I chose the Plain Paste with Lard recipe from Mrs. Rorer’s Cook Book, even though Mrs. Rorer clearly doesn’t approve of lard in pastry:
“Many housekeepers always use lard instead of butter for pastry, simply because it is cheaper; but, as it makes a greasy and brittle crust, there is no doubt that it is more indigestible than the light, flaky, and tender crust made from good, sweet butter.”
Eek! I’ve never found my crusts to be greasy, brittle, or indigestible, and in fact, have been complimented on my pie crusts! Just the same, I think next time I make a pie, I’ll use butter in the crust, just to see for myself.
The pastry recipe is as follows:
Plain Paste with Lard
- 1 quart of sifted flour
- 1 cup of lard
- 1 teaspoonful of salt
- Nearly a cup of ice-water
Mix and roll precisely the same as Plain Paste with Butter.
The directions for Plain Paste with Butter:
Have everything as cold as possible. In warm weather, stand the butter and flour in the refrigerator several hours before using them. Sift the flour, measure, and put into a large mixing-bowl; add the salt and sugar; then place the butter in the centre of the flour, and with a sharp knife cut it quickly into small pieces, at the same time mixing it with the flour; now add the ice-water gradually, lifting with the knife that portion which you have moistened first, and pushing it to one side of the bowl, wet another portion, and so continue until all is moistened. Then cut and mix it together until you can lift it from the bowl with the knife. (A word of caution: add the water very carefully, wetting only the dry flour, never stirring twice in the same place.) Dredge the baking-board lightly with flour, turn the paste out on this, dredge with flour, and roll lightly and quickly from you into a long, thin sheet. Fold first the sides and then the ends, turn the paste around and roll from you again, as before; fold and roll again; then fold and stand on the ice until wanted.
To have this paste a perfect success, the materials should be very cold, mixed and rolled quickly, using as little flour as possible in finishing.
Whew! That’s a lot of very detailed directions! I just cut the cold lard into the flour and salt with a pastry mixer, then added the ice water and mixed it as little as possible until it formed a good ball, then divided it in two and rolled out each crust, and it seems to have worked just fine.
I found a berry pie recipe in my 1938 edition of the Five Roses cook book, and followed that. It’s pretty much how I would make a berry pie without a recipe:
From 3 to 4 cups of berries will be required for a pie of average size. Mix with the berries 1/4 cup Five Roses Flour, with sugar to taste. Pile into pastry lined pie plate; dot with a few bits of butter; cover with top crust, and bake as directed. * If desired, a little lemon juice may be sprinkled over berries to bring out the flavour.
* Pg 134 directs that double crust fruit pies be baked in a hot oven (450°) for ten minutes, then reduced to 325 -350 until the pie is fully cooked.
These directions were straightforward enough, it seems, but for the part about adding sugar to taste. My pie was lovely, and had been in the oven about 5 minutes before I realized I’d neglected to add any sugar…. Out came the pie, and I tore a hole in the lovely upper crust to pour in as much sugar as would fit – maybe a quarter cup, maybe a bit less – and then I kind of stirred it into the berries as best I could before putting the poor mangled crust back together. And it turns out that the berries were on the tart side, and the sugar I added wasn’t quite enough anyhow, but with a spoonful of sugar sprinkled under the crust of each serving, it was delicious nonetheless.
Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cook Book was first published in 1886. My very tattered edition is undated, but probably from the early part of the 1900s. It’s jammed full of clippings, hand written recipes, and a couple of letters to Bob to share recipes. I have no idea who Bob is, but there were also recipes written on envelopes addressed to a Miss Florence Robertson, a nursing student in Winnipeg Manitoba. I’ve spent a lot of time poring over the clippings and recipes. Some of the handwritten stuff is hard to read due to sloppy writing in many cases.
A Guide to Good Cooking with Five Roses Flour has been a Canadian standby for over 100 years. The berry pie recipe came out of the 1938 edition. My mother and Grandma both had editions that they used regularly, and I have 5 or 6 different editions, all of which I use from time to time.