THE American fondness for pie has become a byword, and rightly perhaps, considering the indigestibility of pastry, even at its best; yet every good cook prides herself upon the quality of her products in this particular field. Much, too, depends upon the way she does her work; for pastry may be light, flaky, and fairly digestible, or it may be heavy, soggy and incapable of digestion even by the most healthy person.

The baking is especially important, because even good crust poorly baked is unfit to eat. The oven must be hot, with the greatest heat at the bottom, so that the under crust may be thoroughly cooked, and cooked before the filling of the pie has a chance to soak in and make it soggy.

Butter makes a more digestible crust than lard, and although the recipes call for lard because that is more generally available, some other preparation is to be preferred. There are several on the market.

Plain Paste

1 cup flour 1 tablespoon lard

teaspoon salt Ice-water

Sift the flour and salt; rub in the lard with the finger tips as lightly as possible; then add water, preferably ice-water, drop by drop until a dough is formed. The amount of water will depend on the flour. Flour the bottom of the pan; roll out the crust and line the bottom of the pan with it. Trim off the edges; roll them out; form into a long strip and press around the edge of the crust, moistening it slightly with water first to make the dough adhere. Fill and bake in a quick oven, having the greatest heat at the bottom. A gas stove is more satisfactory for pies than a coal stove. The recipe makes two single crusts.

Tartlets

Roll puff-paste one eighth of an inch thick; cut it into squares; turn the points together into the middle and press slightly to make them stay. Bake until thoroughly done; place a spoonful of jam in the center of each; cover the jam with meringue and brown the meringue in a quick oven.

By brushing the top of the paste with beaten egg diluted with one teaspoon of water a glazed appearance may be obtained.

Torto Frutas

Line the sides of a baking dish with a half puff-paste; cover the bottom with sliced pineapple; put in a layer of peeled sliced oranges, then sliced bananas and then a few slices of lemon; sifting a generous supply of powdered sugar over each layer. Repeat the layers until the dish is full and cover with chopped nuts and narrow strips of the puff-paste. Bake slowly for an hour or more.

Peach Crusts

Roll puff-paste one-eighth of an inch thick; cut in two-and-a-half-inch squares and bake in a hot oven. Cool; press down the centers and place in each a half of a canned peach, drained from its syrup. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and squeeze a little lemon juice into each cavity.

Pastry And Pies

Planned Tor a Family of Four

French Tart

Roll out puff-paste; cover a pie dish with it; turn and notch the edge; fill the crust with any small preserved fruits, jam or marmalade; cut out an ornament of leaves from the crust; lay it on the top and bake for about half an hour in a quick oven.