Battle Pie Crust

It takes a lot of hubris to declare that you’ve found the recipe for “the perfect crust.” Of course, The New York Times, being the paper of record and all, has enough cred to do it.

In a piece sure to be almost as popular as last week’s Bittman bread fest, Melissa Clark bakes a few dozen pie crusts to render (ha!) a verdict on the best fat to use for shattering flakiness combined with melting tenderness.

Butter, shortening, suet, lard, duck fat, peanut butter, olive oil, and more. Her choice? Leaf lard, the fat that surrounds a hog’s kidneys. But it isn’t easy to prepare:

Step one: pick out any bloody bits and sinews, chop the fat into pieces, and render it slowly in a double boiler for eight hours.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the L.A. Times also thinks it has the ultimate crust. Betty Hallock visits City Bakery’s Maury Rubin to get the skinny on his rich tart dough. Like the aforementioned bread recipe, the “miracle crust from the master” promises to take away the guesswork and simplify a complicated process:

You don’t need a food processor or even a mixer. You’re not scrutinizing your dough, hoping to see what looks like snowy peas or barley or the Infant Jesus of Prague. You don’t have to worry about overworking the dough because even if you knead it and slap it and press into it to patch up some torn spots, it turns out great.

Which crust will win the day? We’ll just have to bake them both! Or maybe this one. And ooh, the legendary cider pie sounds like it should go on my list as well. So many pies, so little time.