Lard as a substitute for shortening in pie crust and cookie recipes?

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Joined Apr 4, 2012
Hello,

My go-to cookbooks for old-fashioned desserts like double-crust fruit pies all use a bit of shortening in the crust in addition to the butter. I also have a number of ancient cookie recipes I'd like to make that require shortening in addition to the butter. 

First, I'm not entirely sure why these recipes require both fats but I'm guessing if I just substituted butter for the shortening there would be issues because of the composition of the butter, ie: milk solids, moisture content, etc., or that the crust or cookies might simply brown too much if made with all butter. Just what would happen if I used all butter in place of the shortening?

Second, I'd rather forego the hydrogenated products and am wondering if lard would be a good substitute? How would the final product differ from that made with shortening? I'm sure lard is what people used for eons before Crisco was invented. I've googled it and find that Goya makes un-hydrogenated lard which should be easy to find where I live.

Thanks in advance!
 
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My mother made the best pie crusts ever, and never used anything but lard.  I don't remember any butter. 

Yes, they were flaky.
 
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I like the flavor of butter, but substituting even 2 tbsp of lard for the same amount of butter makes a wonderful pastry - flaky and tender and melt-in-your-mouth.  

Shortening, as PeteMcCracken says, is a substitute for lard, and a very inferior one at that. 
 
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Lard in pie crust is better then shortening in my opinion.. Shortening has water in it and a bunch of chemicls.
 
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Thanks for weighing in, everyone.

I guess lard it is. 

Can anyone tell me the basic chemistry of why using all butter does not work as well as using both fats? 
 
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As Pete points out lard melts at a higher temp. then butter, therefore allowing the dough to actually cook longer without getting soggy or burning  and become more flaky. Another tip I learned from an old time baker ,before filling the pie shell paint the inside with a little eggwhite and pop back in oven a few minutes then cool. This forms a shield so to speak and stops the shell from getting soggy from the filling..
 
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Thank you both for the explanations. And thank you chefedb for the tip. I'm going to try it. I really need to improve my pie crusts.
 
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Once a chef told me that compared to butter, the "lousier" your ingredients for dough, the flakyer the crust!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Btw can someone recommend a decent tart pan with a removable bottom?
 
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As Pete points out lard melts at a higher temp. then butter, therefore allowing the dough to actually cook longer without getting soggy or burning  and become more flaky. Another tip I learned from an old time baker ,before filling the pie shell paint the inside with a little eggwhite and pop back in oven a few minutes then cool. This forms a shield so to speak and stops the shell from getting soggy from the filling..
I've been doing that for ages, particularly on blind baked crusts that are going to be used for creme fillings.  I thought it was my very own secret!

Lard is best for pie crust, biscuits and makes the best shortcakes ever.    European butter has most of the water removed, if you can find it.  High end groceries sometimes carry it.   I use butter for most of these now days, but only because I don't bake very often and the lard just sits there int he fridge all that time, picks up a funny taste.  Butter goes thru here much faster.  But lard makes a better product.
 
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  Lard, shortening, butter?  I think they all have very different attributes and the type of crust can/will vary with the type of pie you're making.  Don't rule out using a combination lard/butter crust either.

   I do like, and use, the tip from ChefEd about using an egg wash on the bottom of the crust. 

Dan
 
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LARD! Fat's where its at!  I agree with everyone's comments here.  The key, though, for me, is using real lard - not the hydrogenated stuff.  Buy a few pounds of Mangalitsa pig lard.  Freeze what you won't be using.  We buy it by the tub or in 1 lb blocks. There was a time when folks would spread lard on bread and have a sandwich.  And lard, interestingly, is 'healthier' than butter... oh, the fried potatoes, donuts, but I digress.  Happy baking!
 
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Dittoes to just about everything said here. Pig fat rules!
...Btw can someone recommend a decent tart pan with a removable bottom?
kkp, Chicago Metallic produces two. One is about 10" and the other has four 3-1/2" mini tarts on one tray, each with a removable bottom. I'm pretty pleased with Chicago Metallic's products. Just my humble opinion.
 
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Since shortening contains more water than lard, would it help to render shortening for several hours at low heat in order to remove the water?  Has anyone tried this procedure that led to an improved/flakier pie crust?
 
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From what I know, shortening is 100% fat and does not contain water.

Margarine and butter, on the other hand, do contain water
 
 
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OK, on the strength of this thread I've ordered 4 lbs of pig fat from a local butcher.  He is to call me when he has it.

I intend to grind it with the meat grinder thingy on the Hobart mixer, then render it in the crockpot.

Strain it, Divide it and freeze part of it.    (Dogs will get the solids)

OK you pros, do you see any flaws in my plan?  I know that w/o hydrogenation it will be less solid, more liquid.  So won't be using it for baking. :(

BTW non-hydrogenized animal fats, especially pork fat has a new, less tarnished image in health circles today.  Look it up!

Pigs are not fed as many hormones as cattle is.  But sadly just as bad for routine anti-biotics.

Donna
 
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