My Life In 10 Dishes: A Food Biography – #2 Pies with Lard Pastry

cooked pie with missing slice

Friends, can you believe it’s been almost a year since I posted on the food part of the website? I have been cooking, but just not documenting the cooking. I’ve needed some time off; food blogging, or any creative type blogging, takes a lot of effort and time. For my big come-back I’ve decided to add the second post in the  ‘Biography in Food’, series that I began quite some time ago. It was inspired by a Sydney Morning Herald online article called, “Write your own food biography; My life in 10 dishes.” If you need a reminder here’s the link.  So the second dish that warrants being part of my food biography is Lard Pastry.  

Lard pastry has a specific geographical origin: The North of England – where my mother is from. The ONLY pastry my mother ever made and cooked from scratch was lard pastry and she rarely ever used commercial pastries of other varieties. It has a couple of advantages: first that it can be used for sweet or savoury fillings and secondly, you don’t blind bake it – yeah, I know: awesome right???? I dislike blind baking; probably because I’m a fairly lazy cook!

cooked pie slice

I have many wonderful food memories of my mother making a myriad of pies with this pastry: apple, rhubarb and sultana, rhubarb and apple, steak and kidney and steak and vegetable. My mother made lard pastry, her mother Barbara made lard pastry and I have been making lard pastry for my entire married adult life. I don’t remember my mum, Margaret, ever making any other type of pastry – not that she needed to, lard pastry is so very versatile; perhaps the most versatile of pastries since it is used with both sweet and savoury fillings.  It can also make fabulous tart casings; lemon curd in a lard pastry casing; MWAH!

My mother’s pies were all wonderful…except the steak and kidney; I’ve never been a fan of kidney. I would pick it out and try and dispose of it without being caught. I still don’t like the steak and kidney variety. Mum always had a small jug of Oxo cubes dissolved in hot water on the table and we would pour it over the pie slice. I always remember the pie being served with peas and home made chips; beyond delicious. My own pie filling repertoire has expanded to a chicken and vegetable pie – it’s pretty awesome and i’ll post the recipe soon.


The sweet pies my mother made with lard pastry were always served with a large jug of custard – to this day I LOVE custard and to be frank, it will probably be  #3 in the food biography series.

But back to lard pastry; I use two lard pastry recipes – my mother’s and grandmother’s recipe and ‘A Cooks Companion’ author, Stephanie Alexander’s recipe. They are both fail safe.

Mum’s Lard Pie Dough Recipe – makes one pie

325g flour

75g lard (fridge section of supermarket)

75g Fairy margarine (fridge section of supermarket)

pinch of salt

Milk (enough to bind)

1. Sift flour and salt. Add fats and mix through by rubbing the lard through the flour with your fingertips. You want to achieve a crummy dough consistency. You can do this in a food processor but it’s so very easy to do on a flat surface or even in a large mixing bowl by hand.

2. Add small amounts of milk at a time to bind.

3. Kneed the dough for about five minutes to achieve a silky lightly-elastic dough.

4. Separate the dough into two portions and roll out flat. Grease a plate (or a pie tin) and lay the bottom pastry over the plate. Add cooled filling; make sure the filling is away from the edges. Milk wash the edges. On the rolling surface, fold the second pastry round in half and make about 5 scores across the fold. Gently lay the pastry lid on the pie and fold out to cover the entire pie. Trim the edges with a knife, press the edges together.

5. Cook in a 200C oven until lightly golden.

Stephanie Alexander’s recipe for lard pastry (amounts slightly modified) – enough for two dinner plate sized pies.

250g plain flour

250g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp salt

250g lard at room temperature

3/4 cup cold water

1. Sift flours and salt together, then rub lard in quickly. Make a well in the centre and work in the water.

2. Knead for 2-3 minutes until you have a springy, elastic dough. Form into a ball and chill for 20 minutes before rolling out. There is no need to chill the pastry once the pie plate has been lined, nor is lard pastry ever baked blind.

fluted & milk bathed edges

folded pie top on board

wetting pie edges to put on lid

folded pie top on filled pie

whole pie cooked


Friends, that’s about it from me today – I hope you’ve enjoyed my second contribution to the ‘My life in 10 dishes: A food biography” series. It’s sure been fun making and eating the pies!

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