Great-Grandma O’Halleran’s Hot Water Pie Crust

Hot water pie crust recipe

Great-Grandma O’Halleran’s Hot Water Pie crust recipe

As you can see from this old recipe index card, I’ve made this pie crust quite a few times. The card is stained with use but only a little worse for wear. The handwriting on it is my dear mother’s, and she copied out this recipe for me from her files, back when I was newly married more than two decades ago.

It’s a different kind of pie crust because unlike most, which use ice water and sometimes butter, this one uses lard (or Crisco, which is what I and my mother have always used) and boiling water. My great-grandmother who was born in Ireland in the 1860’s, Katherine O’Halleran, favored this recipe, and since she lived in my mother’s childhood household and was the primary cook when my mother was a girl in the 1930’s and 1940’s (since her own mother – my Grandma – was away all day working in the cotton mill in Utica, NY), my mother picked it up along the way.

It’s surprisingly easy, adapts to just about any pie, and I never fail to get compliments on the light flakiness of this crust. Except for the very first time I attempted to make it on my own…but that’s a story for another day. 🙂

Here’s the recipe, with instructions for a single or a double crust pie:

Place in a Bowl:

Single Recipe                                                  Double Recipe

1/2 cup lard or Crisco                                     1 1/4 cups lard or Crisco

Pour over it:

1/4 cup boiling water                                      1/2 – 3/4 cups boiling water

Mix the following ingredients together, sifting before measuring (Note: I admit I always skip the sifting part and it doesn’t seem to hurt anything!)

1 1/2 cups flour                                              about 3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsps baking powder                                1 1/4 + a little more tsps baking powder

1/2 tsps salt                                                    1 1/4 + a little more tsps salt

Combine the liquid and the sifted ingredients quickly and form into a smooth ball. Roll out.

A few helpful hints: Don’t overwork the dough. Roll out once, on a well-floured surface, with a well-floured rolling pin. I like to gently fold the crust in half to transfer it to the pie dish, but if you’re using waxed paper under the dough when you roll out, you can just carefully flip it over into the pie dish. Cut off excess before crimping the edged with your thumbs. A finished double-crust should look like these two pies:

pies

Two double-crust pies sprinkled with sugar

 

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