My Grandmother’s Pie Crust

I might have to clarify on this recipe: This is just ONE of my Grandmother’s pie crusts. She was a great baker of pies. People fought over her pies. Seriously. I chose this very old-fashioned crust for my Sour Cream Raisin Pie because I believe both to be from around the same era. It’s delish, a bit like a shortbread and quite a bit different from the recipes I’ve seen or used.

Sour Cream Raisin Pie, showing my Grandma's Pie Crust
Sour Cream Raisin Pie, showing my Grandma’s Pie Crust

Before we talk about the crust, let me tell you a bit about my Grandma Irene, all four foot eleven of her! She grew up in a tiny town in Iowa, her father was a lifetime engineer for railroad, and as a youngster, she had long, auburn red curls nearly to her waist.

She was born in 1899 and her lifetime spanned nearly a century – she often shook her head and said, “What will they think of next!” She was “sharp as whip” and graduated from the University of Iowa where she worked her way through as an elevator operator and sent money home. During the great flu epidemic of 1918, she nursed the ill who were piled in the dorms, hallways and buildings of the campus.

As a young woman, she taught in a one room school house (25 miles by train, but she’d make a stop along the way at her home town morning and evening to care for her very ill mother) and never had a discipline issue with the big, hulking farm boys. She was loved (and perhaps a bit feared) by all.

Irene played the piano beautifully, at church and for weddings and it’s said the family would roll up the rug and have people over to dance, something that must have brightened things up on the Iowa prairie. One time, this tiny woman sat down on a piano bench and it cracked in half, tumbling her to the floor, a story she was long teased for.

And she baked pies. Every year, for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and she’d bake a lot of them, so there would always be extras for the families. In her last years, it became increasingly difficult, and so the announcement came one Christmas that these would probably be the last. Two pies were left, a pumpkin and an apple. The annual bickering ensued between my Dad and Uncle over which family was taking which.

When it was time to go, the pies were nowhere to be found. Each party accused the other. My uncle went so far as to search our car and came up empty handed. As he, my Aunt and the cousins waved us goodbye, we backed down the drive and out to the street and came to a dead stop. Jumping out, my Dad triumphantly grabbed the pies he’d hidden, unbeknownst to everyone, in a snowdrift. There was no way our poor Uncle could catch us as we sped away. What a surprise it was to us all and what a coup for our family!

If my Grandma were here, I think she’d tell you the trick to a good crust is to make them often, use a light hand and a minimum amount of moisture, and keep that dough as cool as you can. Technique, in my hmo, is more important than any recipe – after all, they promise, all these recipes out there, to be the “perfect” crust, don’t they?

So Grandma, this is for you, and I wish I could show you this post!

Grandma's Pie Crust

  • 1 cup lard or 1 1/4 cups Crisco *
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

In a large mixing bowl, combine lard or shortening, flour, and salt. Cut with pastry blender, two knives or fingers until crumbly.

Mix egg and water and toss with a fork until combined. Chill until ready to use.

Note: I used half butter and half crisco, using the 1 1/4 amount total.

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You know I’ll be bringing this to our Throwback Thursday #22 Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, and Moi! That’s right – me! Click over to our Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules and more info or just click on the blue leapfrog, below, to view all the posts or enter your own!

As always, to view the link party or add a link, click on the little blue button below!

I’ll also be linking this to Fiesta Friday number 103! FF is a link party put on by Angie, and cohosted this week by Sonal @ simplyvegetarian777 and Petra @ Food Eat Love. Stop over and join in!

20 thoughts on “My Grandmother’s Pie Crust”

  1. Mollie, you kill it every time. This pie looks amazing. Your grandma was a special lady and an amazing cook, I have no doubt. Pie everyday of the year (with your grandma’s recipe)…that’s what I vote for!! 🙂

  2. Ha! I love that he hid the pies! That sounds like something I’d be tempted to do! My mom says her grandma made the best pie crusts and she used lard as well. My mom makes a pretty mean crust as well. I guess I need to make more pies so I can get it just right. It sounds like we need to eat a lot more pie!

  3. I think you want to edit the lifespan comment to a century not a decade. 🙂

    She sounds like a remarkable woman. I never knew either of mine as we left Yugoslavia when I was 7 and I never saw them again. I don’t even remember meeting my dad’s mom and my pie crust recipes have come from recipe books and the one on the lard package. I feel so deprived. (just kidding there.) Thanks for sharing your memories and the recipe.

    1. Thank you for noticing! I’d hate to be responsible for the premature demise of anyone, let alone Grandma…:)

      What a remarkable life you’ve led and I do so much enjoy not only your treasured family recipes but all the new challenges you take on, too! 🙂

      1. I often miss the lack of grands and great grands (also aunts, uncles and cousins) that so many people talk about even if there are a few not so fun events associated with having them, sometimes. 🙂

        Unfortunately, none of those recipes were ever written down so I have to depend on my memories when I hunt down similar dishes on the net to recreate. And it’s fun discovering dishes from your culture that you never knew about. Like these Romanian donuts called papanasi. 🙂

        http://a-boleyn.livejournal.com/138875.html

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