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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • how to make a good pie topping/crust

    I what to making a pie next week and i need to know what is best butter or pie lard? thanks

    From the nigella team:

    Pastry and pie crust recipes vary enormously, some use all butter, some a combination of butter and pie lard/lard or vegetable shortening/solid vegetable fat. Butter tends adds a good flavour to the pastry but lard and vegetable shortening give a flakier crust (this is as they tend to coat the flour molecules more readily in fat which helps to prevent the flour proteins forming tough gluten strands). 

    A combination of butter and lard/vegetable shortening gives the best combination to produce flavourful, flaky pastry and a basic  pastry crust recipe is to use half the weight of fat to flour, so for each 100g flour you would use 25g each of butter and lard/shortening (for the US for each cup of flour use 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening). Also use ice cold water mixed with a little lemon juice to bind the pastry, just adding enough to form a smooth dough, and if possible rest the dough in the refrigerator for an hour (wrapped in clingfilm or plastic wrap), then bring back to room temperature before rolling out.

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