The Great Outdoors Lifestyle National Parks Recipes

Hiking, Star-Gazing, Canoeing: Visit Buffalo National River in Arkansas for an Action-Packed Outdoor Adventure

Winding down the mountain and through the rugged landscape of dense forest scattered with enormous rock formations, the road flattens out at the tiny, outdoor town of Ponca, Arkansas. With a population of fewer than 120 people, a post office, and a couple of wilderness outfitting stores, Ponca is the middle of nature-nowhere for the Midwest. With stunningly beautiful rustic surroundings and a full array of outdoor adventure opportunities, this northern Arkansas area is perhaps one of America’s best-kept secrets.

Ponca rests on the Buffalo River, the first river in America to be designated a National River. Commencing deep in the highest elevations of the Boston Mountains, the river’s over 150 miles of winding water carve a path eastward through the wilds and wonders of northern Arkansas. Its uppermost section boasts such steep terrain, sharp ridges, crags, and crevices that roughly the first 16 miles are further designated as wild, and the upstream gem is officially known as the Buffalo National Wild and Scenic River.

Show up at the Ponca Low-Water Bridge on any spring weekend morning, and you’re likely to see groups of people wearing orange life vests, paddles in hand, shoving off from shore in canoes bearing outfitters’ logos. Across the bridge lies a short trail to a historic cabin built in 1882, as well as a trailhead leading to a scenic, full-day, 12-mile hike upstream to Boxley—a small community in times past but now a river put-in and trailhead itself. Beneath this hiking stretch, the valley extending up to the ridgetops is a favorite location for Arkansas’s only herd of wild elk. Catching sight of them grazing before a backdrop of sloping terrain near the river’s emerald green waters resembles a scene from somewhere out West.


The Buffalo National River was established in 1972; its founding was the result of a long, contentious battle that began in 1960 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed the construction of two hydroelectric dams that would have destroyed the river and buried its beauties. Under the leadership of Dr. Neil Compton, area residents and outdoor enthusiasts united to fight the proposal, forming a coalition known as the Ozark Society. Their decade of unwavering commitment to the river’s preservation ultimately saved the Buffalo and the treasured wilderness surrounding it.

The Roark Bluff at dawn, one of the most stunning sites at Buffalo National River. (Tim Ernst)

The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Buffalo as a nationally protected area.

One of the few remaining free-flowing rivers left in the lower half of the country, the Buffalo River itself is a sculpted work of art, with water carving around rock and winding through untouched stretches of Arkansas wilderness. Its towering, seemingly painted bluffs are striking, and the clear emerald water that runs beneath them, vibrant and pristine. The waterway is a mecca for canoeists, kayakers, fly-fishers, and riverside campers. Perhaps an even greater set of wilderness wonders, however, exists within the surrounding crags, cliffs, and creeks beyond its banks—discoveries found after setting out with a pair of hiking boots, a map, and a backpack.

Area hiking expert Tim Ernst has spent almost a lifetime unveiling some of those discoveries, carving out trails, and documenting many of the Buffalo Wilderness Area’s wonders. His journaled publications are vital to hikers and backpackers alike, as they record miles of hiking trails ranging from the frequently traveled to the obscure, the relaxing stroll to the arduous climb, and the tiny trail to the week-long expedition.

Buffalo Wilderness Area

The nearly 95,000 acres encompassing the Buffalo National River hold a network of trails and treasures that extends even farther as it connects with the surrounding 1.2 million acres of rugged Ozark National Forest. With levels of exploration ranging from novice to hard-core hiking, and opportunities for mountain biking and equestrianism as well, the undeveloped remote areas are full of treasures waiting to be discovered by outdoor enthusiasts of all levels and ages.

Hiking the Buffalo Wilderness Area is also year-round. “You can’t hike in the Rockies, the Appalachians, or the Pacific Crest in the middle of winter,” said Ernst, “but you can hike in northern Arkansas—and the Buffalo’s emerald-colored water contrasted with scenic views of grays and browns is striking.”

Just this past January, Ernst completed an end-to-end winter bushwhacking journey starting at the river’s Cave Mountain headwaters and traveling 151 miles down to the mouth at the White River. A spinal issue prevents him from carrying a pack, so he completed the two-week excursion tentless and stoveless, sleeping under bluff overhangs and traveling ultra-light. “It was one of the most fun and spectacular trips I’ve ever taken,” he said.

Day Hiking Discoveries

You don’t need to sleep under a rock in winter to see some of the best of what the Buffalo River’s wilderness areas have to offer. Although there are plenty of single-track trails for backpackers and serious trekkers, easier trails with amazing sights and abundant waterfalls are not far from the pavement (or gravel, in this case).

The Milky Way is visible over the historic Villines Homestead in Boxley Valley within the Buffalo National River area. (Tim Ernst)

Lost Valley is one of those signature trails, with everything from vertical walls of rock reaching upward from the valley floor, to Cob Cave—named after the many cobs of corn discovered there in 1931 when it was found to be rich in preserved native artifacts. Following Clark Creek, Lost Valley’s beauty is on display throughout the entire hike, winding through a lush forest full of waterfalls, cascades, and amazing rock formations. Packed with outdoor works of art and springtime wildflowers, the short, two-mile round trip is a scenic journey from start to finish and a small taste of the entire Buffalo River area.

Another offering among the renowned trails and signature sights is Hemmed-in Hollow, a towering waterfall and impressive rock formation that spills out varied amounts of water or displays icicles, depending on the season. A more arduous trail with a 1,400-foot elevation change, it isn’t for the faint of heart. Those up for the challenge will not be disappointed, though, as the famed, 209-foot vertical rock face is the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalachians, and hiking to its base is like discovering a secret hideaway at the end of a canyon.

Nearby lies another geological wonder that, when first encountered, might feel like a sacred discovery as well. Big Bluff, accessible via the appropriately named Goat Trail, is an impressive, oversized rock face, leaning out over the river with breathtaking views. Wrapping around the mountain and morphing into a mammoth wall of sandstone, the somewhat precarious trail narrows to curve around the bluff, revealing a 550-foot drop and an expansive view of the river and backcountry below.

Backcountry and Dark Skies

Lost Valley, Hemmed-in Hollow, and Big Bluff are just a few of the amazing trails and seemingly endless sights for day hikers to explore. On the other hand, hikers preferring to gear up with backpacks and tents for a weekend or two, venturing off the beaten path in the woods, can find what they’re after on the Buffalo River Trail. Winding back and forth across the river, as well as up and down in elevation, the “BRT,” as it’s known, totals almost 80 miles in length and can take you downstream via foot rather than canoe. Eventually connecting with the almost 200-mile network of the rugged and remote Ozark Highlands Trail, the Buffalo backcountry feels endless—ideal for trekking each day and sleeping under the stars each night.

Speaking of stars, the Buffalo National River was recognized in 2019 as an International Dark Sky Park. With the darkest nighttime skies in all of Arkansas, the park is a great place to go to escape suburbia and do some stargazing, learn the constellations, or see the Milky Way. With park regulations aimed at eliminating light pollution, the natural twinkling lights of nighttime skies are now as protected as the wilderness they blanket.

Sunrise over Boxley Valley within the Buffalo National River area. (Tim Ernst)

Preservation Through Growth

Many historical cabins and preserved homesteads are scattered throughout the Buffalo area as well. Granny Henderson’s cabin, the Parker-Hickman Farmstead in nearby Erbie, and the Villines family cabins in Ponca all commemorate a past era when pioneers worked tirelessly to survive in the wilds of a rugged landscape while carving out hard livings.

Although times have greatly changed since those days, the raw, rustic, and simplistic form of much of the area is still preserved. In the past 50 years in particular, since the national park and national river were established, the town of Ponca and the Boxley River Valley have remained virtually unchanged. Nestled in the valley between mountainside and river, the old-school mountain town atmosphere is difficult to miss.

The Buffalo Outdoor Center outfitters and Lost Valley Canoe and Lodging rentals still reside as the only two businesses of tiny Ponca, and most of the cabins viewed from the road are rentals. There are no motels. Although certainly adding to the area’s charm, the simplicity also poses some issues during crowded times, especially as the area grows in popularity.

“Elk, waterfalls, and hiking trails have increased traffic to the Buffalo River immensely,” said Ernst. “Particularly when the big bulls are out there bugling.”

The once-unknown, tiny area’s increased popularity hints at the need for new infrastructure to handle it—apparently, grants are in place to do just that. In the meantime, though, this area is still “in its infancy,” as Ernst said, citing that there aren’t too many places left in the United States where you can still chart new territory as a hiker or backpack a 47-mile section of backcountry without any established campsites.

Labeled the “Natural State” for a reason, Arkansas has plenty of raw, rare, hidden beauty, and although it’s rapidly growing, the Buffalo River remains a somewhat unrecognized outdoor mecca. “I doubt that the personal experience of discovery will ever be completed here,” Ernst challenged. So next time you’re in search of adventure, find Arkansas Highway 43 on a map, head south, and wind down into Newton County, stopping off in Ponca. A bit like venturing off the grid, the disconnection from your everyday world may end up connecting you with exactly what you’ve been looking for.

This article was originally published in American Essence magazine.

Food Recipes

America’s ‘Barbecue Diplomacy’

People often say that we are what we eat. As a country built by immigrants, America’s food culture is as rich as the various cultures represented by the people who make up this diverse nation.  Our ancestors brought the traditional dishes of their native countries with them and passed these delicacies down from one generation to the next. So, what really is “American” food?

Some may say the quintessential American food is a burger, or a hot dog. And in fact, these delicious items are the mainstay of the traditional barbecue parties that are essential to many American celebrations. The key to serving up good barbecue is having love and patience. This tradition may be simple, but it can change the world—as hot dogs and burgers have sometimes played a critical role in U.S. diplomacy.

The first, and perhaps most important, “barbecue diplomacy” event was arguably held in June 1939, when King George VI of England and his wife, Queen Elizabeth (mother of Elizabeth II), visited the United States. Following their royal state visit to Canada, President Franklin D. Roosevelt invited the British sovereigns to visit his home in Hyde Park, New York, for an American-style picnic.

Prior to this visit, no reigning British monarch had ever set foot on American soil. In 1939, England was on the brink of war with Germany, while the United States was pursuing a foreign policy of isolationism.  Many Americans were worried that Britain might drag their country into a foreign conflict. While FDR wanted to lend help to the British, he had to convince the American public that such support was warranted.

On June 11, 1939, perhaps the most famous hot dogs in world history were served to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the Hyde Park picnic. Apparently, the royal couple had never been served frankfurters before, and the Queen quietly asked her host just how one should go about eating a hot dog. This humorous inquiry made headlines in the American press at the time. It was also included in the popular TV drama series, “The Crown” (Season 1).

We will never know what kind of meat or other ingredients were used to make those royal hot dogs, but they apparently made a significant impression on the royal couple. While the Queen purportedly used a knife and fork, the King ate his U.S. treat, American-style.

No doubt, this “hot dog diplomacy” was a great success. Just three months later, Britain declared war on Germany; and while the U.S. did not enter the war in Europe until December 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Hyde Park picnic had helped FDR introduce the King and Queen of England to American isolationists in a relatable manner. The hot dog picnic changed the relationship with Great Britain forever: no longer as a former imperial power and its runaway colony, but now as friends and important allies.

“Barbecue diplomacy” has since been utilized by other U.S. presidents as well. George W. Bush hosted a barbecue party for German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2006, and another for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007, treating them both to delicious Bush-style cheeseburgers.

Chef Matthew Wendel, who worked for GW Bush and his family at Camp David, and at their Texas home, revealed the recipe in the book, “Recipes From the President’s Ranch: Food People Like to Eat,” with First Lady Laura Bush providing helpful tips on assembling the burgers, such as using extra sharp cheddar cheese and toasted whole-wheat buns.

Sweet and Smoky Cheeseburgers Recipe

Serves 4


  • 1 ⅓ pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons favorite barbecue sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Oil, for brushing the grill
  • 4 slices extra sharp cheddar
  • 4 whole-wheat buns, toasted


In a bowl, mix the ground beef with barbecue sauce and salt and pepper just until combined; do not over-mix. Divide the meat into 4 equal patties about 1/2-inch thick.

Lightly brush a charcoal or gas grill with oil and heat to medium. Grill burgers for about 5 minutes, until charred on the bottom. Flip burgers and cook for 1 minute more. Top each burger with cheese and cook just until melted, 1 to 2 minutes more, or until cooked to desired temperature.

Serve on toasted buns with your favorite burger condiments.

Recipe from “Recipes From the President’s Ranch: Food People Like to Eat,” by Matthew Wendel (The White House Historical Association, 2020)

Food Recipes

The ‘Poison Apple’

Men used to eat tomatoes in public to demonstrate their courage and might, and the ladies would faint upon witnessing such shocking scenes.

Scenes like these don’t originate from a Hollywood comedy—they actually happened in the United States back in the 18th century.

Today, tomatoes are widely known as an anti-aging superfood. They contain potassium and Vitamin C and are high in lycopene, which some studies show can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

What many do not know is that once upon a time, tomatoes were grown in gardens as ornamental plants. They were fearfully nicknamed “poison apples” and were considered poisonous in North America for nearly 200 years.

If we tomato lovers could thank someone for dispelling the misconception, it would be one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson. He was not only a politician; he was also known as a horticulturist, paleontologist, and foodie. When he served as the minister to France (1785–1789), he accumulated an enormous collection of European recipes and brought them back to America. Apparently, his taste in food has greatly influenced American food culture.

We don’t know for sure whether Jefferson brought the tomato seeds back home from Europe, but there is a record of him planting tomatoes in his backyard. Legend has it that Jefferson ate a tomato in front of his houseguests and, afterward, served delicious tomato dishes to them. There is no doubt that if the internet had existed back in the 18th century, “are tomatoes really edible?” and “did Thomas Jefferson die after eating a tomato?” would have been among the top searches.

In 1820, a man named Robert Johnson staged a “tomato trial” on the steps of a New Jersey courthouse. He ate a full basket of tomatoes—and he did not die.

In time, tomatoes became a popular fruit to consume. First Lady Jackie Kennedy had a favorite tomato soup recipe, which her staff compiled and distributed to anyone who wrote to the White House asking for her favorite recipes. Try your hand at this simple yet refreshing version of tomato soup.

Mrs. John F. Kennedy’s Iced Tomato Soup

Serves: 6


  • 6 large, ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A dash of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon, dissolved in 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  1. Combine tomatoes, onion, water, salt, and pepper in a saucepan.
  2. Cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine tomato paste with flour and add to tomatoes with chicken bouillon.
  4. Simmer gently for 3 minutes.
  5. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve.
  6. Chill several hours.
  7. Before serving, add cream.
  8. Season with salt to taste if necessary. Garnish each serving with a thin tomato slice if desired.

Recipe from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Food Recipes

Ken Haedrich’s Recipe for North Carolina Sweet Potato Pie

My adoptive North Carolina ranks first in the nation in the production of sweet potatoes: more than 60,000 acres of them, about half of the total US production. In light of that, I came up with this recipe as a tribute to the farmers and their lovely sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have a wonderfully dense flesh and deep color that are in their full glory in this tasty pie.

Makes 8–10 servings

Old-Fashioned Shortening Pie Dough (see below) or another single-crust dough


3 medium-large sweet potatoes

3 large eggs plus 1  large egg yolk, at room temperature

⅔ cup packed light brown sugar

⅓ cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½c up heavy cream

½ cup half-and-half

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon all-­purpose flour

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

whipped cream (optional)

1. Prepare and refrigerate the pie dough. Roll the dough into a  12 1/2- to 13-inch circle and line a 9- to 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan with it, shaping the edge into an upstanding ridge. Flute or crimp the edge, chill the shell, and partially prebake it according to the instructions on page 000.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Scrub the potatoes and place them on a baking sheet. Pierce them several times with a paring knife. Bake for 60 to 75  minutes, until they feel tender all the way through when pierced with a paring knife. Cut the potatoes open to help them cool faster. 

3. When the potatoes have cooled, scoop the flesh into a food processor. Process to a smooth purée. Measure out 11/2 cups purée. (Save any extra purée for another use.)

4. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Whisk the eggs and egg yolk in a large bowl until frothy. Add the potato purée, sugars, melted butter, heavy cream, half-and-half, and vanilla. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on medium-low speed until evenly blended. Mix the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the liquid and blend it in on low speed.

5. Put the pie shell on a baking sheet, near the oven, and carefully pour the filling into the shell. Bake the pie, on the sheet, on the middle oven rack for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F (180°C) and rotate the pie 180 degrees. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes longer, until the filling is set. When the pie is done, the filling will be wobbly and puff slightly around the edges.

6. Transfer the pie to a rack. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or chilled, garnished with whipped cream, if desired.

Boil or Bake?

In my sweet potato pie trials, I both boiled and baked the potatoes and found that I preferred the baked results. Baking takes longer, but it concentrates the flavor without adding excess moisture to the pie. 

You get a creamier, fuller-bodied pie when the moisture comes from the cream and eggs. If you like, you can accelerate the pie-making process by baking the sweet potatoes the day before, perhaps when you have something else in the oven. Refrigerate them after they have cooled. 

And by the way, since you’re baking sweet potatoes anyway, why not bake a couple of extras and use them to thicken soups or stews, or in muffins and quick breads. Or serve them as a simple side dish, mixed with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Old-Fashioned Shortening Pie Dough

This is a pretty standard all-shortening piecrust, like the one my dad used when I was a youngster. A shortening piecrust won’t have the delicate flavor of a butter crust, and the texture is typically more crumbly, less flaky. Still, this yields a delicious, tender crust that many bakers believe makes the best pies.

One 9- to 91/2-inch standard or deep-dish pie shell

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar (optional for a sweet pie; omit for a savory pie)

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup cold vegetable shortening

¼–⅓ cup cold water

1. Combine the flour, sugar (if using), and salt in a large bowl; refrigerate for 15 minutes.

2. Add the shortening to the dry ingredients and toss it with your hands to coat, then break it up into smaller pieces. Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until the pieces of fat are roughly the size of small peas and everything looks like it has been touched by the fat. There should be no dry, floury areas.

3. Mound the ingredients in the center of the bowl. Drizzle about half of the water down the sides of the bowl, turning the bowl as you pour so the water doesn’t end up in one spot. Using a large fork, lightly mix the dough, tossing it from the perimeter toward the center of the bowl. Drizzle most of the remaining water here and there over the dough and toss again.

4. Mix the dough vigorously now. The dough should start to gather in large clumps, but if it is dry in places, stir in the rest of the water.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pack it into a ball, then knead it several times to smooth it out. Put the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Wrap the disk and refrigerate for about 1 hour before rolling.

Double-Crust Version

The softness of the shortening makes this an easy recipe to double. Simply double all of the ingredients and proceed as above. Divide the dough in two when it comes out of the bowl, making one part slightly larger than the other if you’re using it for a  top and bottom crust.

Excerpted from “Pie Academy” copyright by Ken Haedrich, photography by Emulsion Studio, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Food Recipes

Ken Haedrich’s Cheddar-Crusted Apple Pie Recipe

New Englanders have known the pleasures of combining apple pie and Cheddar cheese for a very long time — long enough to be quite opinionated about how the two should be eaten together. Some cooks include grated Cheddar in the filling itself. Others grate the cheese over the top of the pie, which is fine when the pie is warm but less so when it is cool and the cheese hardens. Old-timers lay a slab of Cheddar right on top of their pie slice and dig in. I wanted to integrate the cheese into the pie itself, so I baked grated cheese into the crust, which keeps the snappy Cheddar flavor front and center. This is one good pie.

Makes 8 servings

Cheddar Cheese Pie Dough (see below)


8 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Granny Smith or other apples

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¾ cup chopped walnut halves, preferably toasted

2½–3 tablespoons all-­purpose flour

1 egg beaten with 1  tablespoon milk, for glaze

1. Prepare and refrigerate the pie dough. Roll the larger dough portion into a 121/2- to 13-inch circle and line a 9- to 91/2-inch deep-dish pie pan with it, letting the overhang drape over the edge. Refrigerate the shell until needed.

2. Combine the apples, sugar, lemon juice, and walnuts in a large bowl. Mix well. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Adjust the oven racks so one is in the lower position and another is in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with  parchment  paper.

4. Sprinkle the flour over the apples, using the larger amount of flour if the apples seem very juicy. Mix  well.

5. Roll the other dough portion into an 11-inch circle. Turn the filling into the pie shell and smooth it over to level out the fruit. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell. Drape the top pastry over the filling, pressing along the edge to seal. Trim the overhang with scissors, leaving an even 1/2 to 3/4  inch all around, then sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Flute or crimp the edge, as desired. Poke several steam vents in the top of the pie with a large fork or paring knife. Put a couple of the vents near the edge so you can check the juices. Brush the pie lightly with the egg wash glaze.

6. Put the pie on the prepared baking sheet and bake on the lower oven rack for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and move the pie up to the middle rack, rotating the pie 180 degrees. Bake for 30 to 40  minutes longer, until the pie is a rich, golden brown and juices bubble thickly up through the vents.

7. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool for about 1 hour before serving. Longer is fine, but you’ll bring out the flavor of the cheese if you serve this pie warmer than most.

Cheddar Cheese Pie Dough 

Every true New Englander knows that nothing goes better with apples than sharp Cheddar cheese. My favorite way of combining these two is by baking the cheese right in the crust. The baked-in Cheddar flavor is out of this world, and it’s one of the prettiest crusts you’ll find, all golden and covered with crispy cheese freckles. It makes a great crust for savory pies, too, like quiches and pot  pies.

One 9- to 9½-inch standard or deep-dish double-crust piecrust or two pie shells

2½ cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup fine yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons cornstarch

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

1¼ cups cold grated sharp Cheddar cheese (white or yellow)*

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water


Sharp and flavorful cheeses like Gouda or Gruyére work best.

1. Combine the flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Scatter the butter around on a large flour-dusted plate. Measure the water into a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Refrigerate everything for 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Transfer the dry ingredients to a food processor. Pulse several times to mix. Scatter the butter over the dry mixture. Pulse the machine seven or eight times, until the pieces of butter are roughly the size of small peas. Remove the lid and scatter the cheese over the mixture. Replace the lid. Pulse three or four times, just long enough to mix in the cheese thoroughly.

3. Pour the water through the feed tube in a 8- to 10-second stream, pulsing the machine as you add it. Stop pulsing when the mixture begins to form large clumps.

4. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and divide it in two, making one part — for the bottom crust — slightly larger than the other. Pack the dough into balls, place on separate sheets of plastic wrap, and flatten into 3/4-inch-thick disks. Wrap the disks and refrigerate for about 1 hour before rolling.

To Make this Dough by Hand

Combine the chilled dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut it in thoroughly. Mix in the cheese by hand. Mound the ingredients in the center of the bowl. Drizzle half of the water down the sides of the bowl, rotating the bowl as you pour. Mix well with a fork. Sprinkle half of the remaining water over the mixture; mix again. Pour most of the remaining water over the mixture; mix vigorously until the dough gathers in large clumps. If there are dry, floury areas remaining, stir in the last spoonfuls of water. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and proceed as in step 4.

Excerpted from “Pie Academy” copyright by Ken Haedrich, photography by Emulsion Studio, used with permission from Storey Publishing.