Here’s my recommendation: Don’t go into a store and ask for lard. There are few things more humiliating and shame-inducing than asking where the lard is stocked. Yes, the lard. No, like a tub. Of lard. Like for baking. Not to consume with a spoon. I swear.
I spent 10 minutes walking up and down the baking aisle looking for lard before I mustered the courage to ask someone behind the bakery counter. She looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears, but told me to check where the butter is. Duh! Of course it would be refrigerated. But it wasn’t by the butter. So I went back to the baking aisle to check by the shortening again. Still nope. And since there wasn’t another grocery store clerk anywhere in sight, I called the store. From within the store. Yeah, I’m that lazy, but I also think I couldn’t bear the thought of asking another human being face-to-face where the lard is kept. The look on the bakery girl’s face was too horrified for me to relive so soon.
So a guy answers the phone, and I go, “Hi! I’m looking for lard? Do you carry it?” And he’s like, “I’m sorry, what?” And I go, “You knowww… lard. Like for baking. Like a literal tub of lard.” And this fella says: “Umm, this is the bank.”
Excuse me while I go die.
The meat counter. The meat counter is where they keep the lard. Just FYI. Don’t call your bank asking where they keep tubs of lard.
Anyway, the first time I made this pie, I made it with half lard and half butter. I had never baked a crust with lard, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I wasn’t wowed, but I’ve come to find out that leaf lard is what I’m really after, and that ain’t easy to come by. The stuff they sell at the grocery store is the worst quality lard and has a bunch of preservatives. I’m considering rendering my own leaf lard, if I can find a butcher to sell me some. Regardless, I ended up making this pie with my all-butter No Fail Pie Crust.
The tea flavor in this pie is very light and only peeks out every few bites or so. The first time I made it, I had cloves in the pie, and they totally strangled out the delicate flavor of the tea. The second time I took the cloves out entirely, and now I think that the cardamom really stands out and enhances the tea flavor. If you don’t want to brew tea, you can just use boiling hot water, and you’ll still get a really great apple pie. But if you use the tea, you also get some apple-infused tea out of the deal. That’s a win-win, in my book.
- 1 No Fail Pie Crust recipe (two crusts)
- 12 cups water
- 4 tablespoons (18 grams) black tea*
- 4½ (about 8-10) baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch thick slices
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- Prepare crust dough and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Place one oven rack in lower-middle position, with the second rack in the lowest position. Place a sheet pan on the lowest rack. Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add black tea and let steep for 5 minutes. Pour tea through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl (at least 5-quart capacity). Discard tea leaves. Return tea to pot and bring back to a boil.
- Place apple slices in the same large bowl you used for the tea a moment ago. Pour boiling tea over the apple slices, cover the bowl, and let rest for 10 minutes at room temperature. Place a wire rack over a kitchen towel. With a slotted spoon, transfer apple slices out of the tea and onto the wire rack, spreading them out evenly. Allow apples to dry on the rack for 10 minutes. (You can save the tea for drinking; it's now apple-infused tea! Heat it back up and add bourbon if you're so inclined.)
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and spices. Add apples to the bowl and gently toss until the apples are evenly coated.
- Roll one chilled dough disc into a 12-inch round. Place into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Add the filling. Roll out the second dough disc into another 12-inch round. Place over the top of the pie. If necessary, trim the dough so there is a ½-inch overhang. Fold the edges of the pie crusts inward, pressing them together as you do so to make a tight seal. Crimp the edges.
- Use a sharp knife to cut 5 slits in a star shape on the top of the crust. Whisk the egg in a small bowl with a fork. Use a pastry brush to brush the top and edges of the crust with the egg wash. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top.
- Place the pie on the lower-middle rack above the sheet pan (the sheet pan will catch any drips, if there are any). Bake for 25 minutes at 425°F, then lower the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the crust is deep golden brown, another 25-35 minutes. Transfer the pie pan to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
- *You can also use tea bags instead of loose-leaf tea; use 12 bags. You can just remove the bags after they have steeped for five minutes, then bring the tea back to a boil before continuing with the recipe.