Maple Hazelnut Pie


I’ve been more or less off dinner duty lately – last night I was in Red Deer teaching a class, and tonight we went to Vin Room (didn’t want to miss out on Dine Out Calgary completely! we ate creamy mushroom soup, braised lamb shoulder and crème brulée, with wine pairings for each, for $50) but I do have something on offer. This morning we talked about lard on the Eyeopener, and I finally made some pastry using my homemade stash, and a third of it came back home with me. And wow.

Seriously-I am pulling up my soapbox and preaching the word of the lard. A little more research on the subject revealed that lard is only (I realize only is relative – but far lower than I would have guessed) 39% saturated fat and 45% monounsaturated fat. (I know! It’s pig fat! How can that be? Is lard really that misunderstood? I think perhaps so.) Comparatively, butter is about 63% saturated fat. So it’s not just a smidge lower – it’s quite substantially lower. In saturated fat. Than butter. Pig fat, that is. My worlds are colliding. My Dad called later in the morning to stress that he couldn’t possibly believe this to be true. But yes, I double and triple-checked, and so far no one has called or emailed to point out that I got my facts wrong.

So swapping some of the butter for lard when making pastry (I usually do all-butter pastry) makes it flakier (lard makes it flaky while butter adds flavour) while reducing saturated fat. Crazy. And it’s an ingredient my Grandma used, and would recognize – which is the whole point, no? The movement back to whole and familiar and real food? And it makes some pretty fab poutine, by the way. (Although canola oil does too, and there’s no question that canola oil is better for you than lard.)

Not Without Salt has a nice little write-up and video on rendering your own lard, although hers is much darker than I like mine to be – the darker it gets the toastier and more intensely flavoured. If you’re gentle and slow, you should be able to keep it pure white and almost flavourless, if you like it that way. Strain it – chill it – lard. I have done a batch in the slow cooker and it works fabulously – it does tend to colour the fat, though – or mine did, anyway – which intensifies the flavour a bit and gives it a pale golden hue. Which is fine, if you don’t mind that – just be warned.


Grandma Woodall’s “Never-fail” Pastry

Recipe link


March 9, 2010

This will give you enough pastry to line a 9” pie plate; double it to make enough for two pies or a double crust.


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1/4 cup lard or shortening, chilled and cut into pieces

2-4 Tbsp. ice-cold water

1 tsp. vinegar (optional, stir it into the water)


1In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and shortening and use a fork, pastry blender, wire whisk or the “pulse” motion of the food processor to blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with lumps of fat no bigger than a pea.

2Drizzle the minimum amount of water over the mixture and stir until the dough comes together, adding a little more a bit at a time if you need it. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disc, wrap it in plastic and chill it for at least half an hour. If you are making a double crust pie, divide the dough in half, making one half slightly larger than the other.

3 (Your pastry can be prepared up to this point and frozen for up to 4 months; let it thaw on the countertop when you need it.



Maple Hazelnut Pie

Recipe link


March 9, 2010

Bon Appétit, October 2008


unbaked single pie crust

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. bourbon

1/4 cup butter, cut into bits

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1 cup hazelnuts, husked, coarsely chopped

3 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla


1In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine maple syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling for a minute, reducing heat if it looks like it might boil over. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon, then the butter; whisk until butter melts. Let cool to lukewarm, whisking occasionally, about 20 minutes.

2Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush crust with the beaten egg white, and scatter with hazelnuts. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla; whisk in the cooled maple-sugar mixture. Pour into the crust, over the hazelnuts. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until filling is set and slightly puffed.

3 Cool completely on a wire rack.


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34 comments on “Maple Hazelnut Pie

  1. Lauren
    March 9, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    That looks so good. The hazelnuts are absolutely gorgeous =D.

  2. Laurel
    March 9, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I’ve been hearing a lot about this “make it yourself” lard. I’m going to have to give it a shot. Pie looks lovely!

  3. jmisgro
    March 10, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Here in Sicily you can buy lard for baking called strutto. It’s right next to the butter and margarine in the dairy case! It really does make baked goods flakier!

  4. Jennifer Jo
    March 10, 2010 at 4:41 am

    I love lard and I just went through a lard biscuit kick—the most MARVELOUS biscuits ever!

    Have you ever read “Nourishing Traditions?” She argues that saturated fats are good for you (at least that’s how I interpreted it).

  5. tara
    March 10, 2010 at 5:31 am

    that pie is darn sexy, friend!

  6. Kristin
    March 10, 2010 at 5:59 am

    oh, yum! I am already a lard convert, but I never even thought of rendering my own until you talked about it. I mean, I knew you could, but actually doing it! I’ve only found hydrogenated lard locally, so I just might have to give it a shot!

  7. erin
    March 10, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Ok, so is there a difference between lard and shortening? I mean, I think shortening is from veggies, but does that mean it has less saturated fat? It seems to me the last time I compared labels they were pretty much the same. All these fats are confusing me!!

  8. bellini valli
    March 10, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Lard is definitely misunderstood, but growing up with a vegetarian father it has never touched my lips…not that I personally would think it a bad thing, expecially when you can make a delicious pie crust like this.

  9. sue.d
    March 10, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Oh wow. Damn that looks great, and now at 8am I want nothing but that. And it has maple syrup! Surely it would make a decent sub for whole grain pancakes?

  10. Elaine
    March 10, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I’m converting friends to join me in my new-found lard obsession by sneakily having them over for pie or biscuits and waiting for them to compliment it before I’m all “LARD!” up in their face. Soon, all of Chicago will see the light. All of Chicago that’s not vegetarian or vegan, that is.

  11. Jan (Family Bites)
    March 10, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Julie, there is a great article on the Toronto Life website called “Praise the Lard” – I don’t want to take up good space here with a long link, but if you’re interested I would read it – interesting and informative and very pro-lard. I like lard! (that should be on a t-shirt!)

  12. JulieVR
    March 10, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Jan – I’d love the link! I’m sure everyone else would too!

  13. Rebecca
    March 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Wow that looks amazing! I’m pretty afraid of lard, but if that’s the result, I may have to confront my fears.

  14. Elaine
    March 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm


  15. Barb
    March 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Good work Julie!

  16. Laurie in Burnaby BC
    March 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for the pie crust recipe, Julie. I had never thought of a combination of butter and lard. I don’t know why, when it logically would give the best of both, the way using olive oil and butter together to cook onions gives the benefits of both.

    You wouldn’t have to use this pie crust only for sweet things. I’m going to use it to make a tortiere (sp) crust. The lard in it should make it ideal for meat pies. You know, I’ve had a yearning for a turkey pot pie lately – I wonder if this wouldn’t be a more satisfying crust than puff pastry.

    Or even sausage rolls – hmmm – salmon rolls?

  17. Cheryl Arkison
    March 10, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Oh you had me at flaky.

  18. Kathryn
    March 10, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I’ve been following your ongoing adventures in lard and I just can’t get behind this one! I mean, it’s LARD! Perhaps if I was a lover or consumer of pie crust I could get enthused about … lard. But I don’t make pie crust and always enjoy the pie filling more than the crust, whether it be savory or sweet. I’d rather have a fruit crumble than a fruit pie. My grandma did indeed recognize lard, but it was not with unbridled enthusiasm. More like, “Ugh, you don’t want that, that’s just the lard. Put it back in the fridge honey.”

    Perhaps I have an unsophisticated palate. But … it’s just lard. Isn’t it?

  19. Vivian
    March 10, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    When I first eyed that lovely photo (without yet reading the headline) I thought, “What’s that Julie done with chickpeas NOW?!” It looks delightful and far superior to its cousin(?) the butter tart. As for lard, I’m talking to my butcher next week. Maybe he should be rendering and selling it!

  20. Carol SB
    March 10, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Mhmm. I love a good flaky piecrust made with lard. And, especially, cookies made with lard and butter- both. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has often been my strategy (along with, “Thanks for the compliment!” and a quick subject change). I’d never serve them to a vegetarian (those folks among my friends get steered to the type made with margarine), but the BEST cookies are made this way.
    Auntie Joan had a recipe for “Crunchy Canadian Cookies” made with (amongst other things) oats and lard, flattened with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. I’ve got to make those again.
    Thanks, Julie. I hope lard loses its current cachet and adopts a better press secretary (like you…)

  21. Jan (Family Bites)
    March 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Here it is…http://www.torontolife.com/features/praise-lard/

  22. lovetocook
    March 10, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I’m a believer in making things from scratch – except pie crust that is. Tenderflake frozen crusts in the yellow box are made with lard and they’re good enough for me and the guys I go with.

  23. Erika
    March 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Yum! I too have been turned the way of the lard! After taking a wonderful pie making class in Victoria with Chef Heidi Fink, where we did a taste test of butter vs. lard pie crust – I was hooked! If anyone lives in Victoria, I would highly recommend this class (if you’re a begining pie maker) – you can read Heidi’s article on lard here: http://chefheidifink.com/pdf/beautyoflard.pdf

  24. ajdoula
    March 10, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I’m a big believer in lard for pastry – when we used to live in the US, I would tuck bricks of Tenderflake into my luggage to take across the border – there’s nothing like it.

  25. margo
    March 10, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I might venture to tease just a bit, Kathryn, that if you tasted a delicious, over-the-top flaky lard and butter pastry, you might be enthused about the crust as much as the filling!! Then again, sometimes I wish my daughter and I weren’t so in love with pie crust. It is so rewarding to successfully make excellent pastry, and I’ve worked on it for m-a-n-y years. (My family doesn’t seem to mind!) My favorite method to date is with the food processor, carefully and watchfully pulsed, very cold ingredients, and more lard than butter, like probably 3/4 lard and 1/4 butter. All- butter pastry is delicious (not unlike shortbread in flavor!) but for the advantages Julie talks about, it’s great to combine the two. How do you render the lard in the slow cooker? (Pardon me if I missed that along the way.)

  26. JulieVR
    March 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Margo – just toss the fat into the slow cooker and set it on low for a few hours. Works like a charm! But it does tend to darken more than the stovetop or oven method we used a few weeks earlier.

  27. jacqquie
    March 10, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    MMMMMmmm… Simply lovely! I have always made my tourtières with lard-based (?) pastry, it makes a good thing even better. Now I’m thinking that all pies should be made this way, though not quite convinced that I want to make my own lard. As always Julie, you go above and beyond!

  28. margo
    March 10, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Erin, I may be wrong, but I believe a significant difference between lard and shortening (besides vegetable versus animal fat), is that shortening, like margarine, has gone through the hydrogenation process which keeps it solid at room temperature and gives it a long shelf life. Not a very healthy or natural process, much like is used in many of the creamy smooth peanut butters, etc.

  29. Kathryn
    March 11, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Margo, I guess you will have to come on over with some super-flakey pastry for me to sample and turn me on to the wonders of lard! LOL!

  30. margo
    March 11, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    That would be fun! But I don’t know if I want to be responsible for that!! ha ha Like I said, loving yummy pastry is something I struggle with. : )

  31. Ruth
    March 15, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I love Lard! Until now it has been tenderflake but I have recently found a butcher selling rendered leaf lard (the lard made from the fat around the kidneys of the pigs, which is suposed to make the flakiest pastry) and will be making pie soon!

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