Everybody loves my pies. Not everybody loves all of the kinds of pie, of course (pumpkin is either love it or hate it), but even pie-indifferent people love at least one kind of my pie. And the comment is usually "That's the best crust ever!" Which is funny, because according to the rules, I do everything wrong.
I use the wrong ratio of fat to flour to water, I never use lard, I cut it in too much, I'm lazy and use waxed paper, I don't trim the edges. But as long as so many people like my crust anyway, maybe you'd like to try it my way.
Praiseworthy Pie Crust
(enough for one double or two single 9" crusts -- can be multiplied as needed)
Sift and stir together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut in 1 cup shortening (NOT pre-creamed). (I do both these steps with my pastry blender. If you don't have one, get one!) Keep cutting until the mixture is uniform. (Standard recipes tell you to cut only until the fat is the size of small peas.) Gently sprinkle in, one tablespoon at a time, 4 to 6 tablespoons cold water*, stirring with a fork after each addition. The mixture should start to come together as a ball. (Experience will help you know how much is enough. If some of the dough feels wet, STOP!)
Gather the dough together in your hands, and form it into two softball-sized lumps. Flatten each lump slightly, and place between two squares of waxed paper. Roll out each crust, turning the whole thing (paper and all) over at least once, and peeling the paper loose before you roll the second side to get rid of any wrinkles.
When both crusts are rolled out, peel the wax paper free of one side, replace it loosely, and then turn the combination over and peel the other sheet off. Holding both crust and loosely-adhering paper, place crust in pan (or on top of pie) and remove paper. (Arwen worked out this trick -- I always just peeled one, and then peeled the other when the crust was in the pan. But it's less likely to tear this way.) Fill and or bake as your recipe directs.
*(I use cold tap water, but I live in Michigan! If you live somewhere warmer, you may want to use refrigerated or even iced water.)
This dough can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, either before or after rolling. Either way, warm to room temperature before using, or the dough will crack. Any cracks can be mended by tamping together with a warm finger.
The other thing which makes my pie crusts different is my sealing and forming technique. Instead of trimming the edges, and sealing two flat surfaces, I roll both crusts together up and in toward the pie, making a largish roll which I then crimp. I freely admit, crust is my favorite part of the pie, so I make sure I get a lot. I do tweak the crusts a little to make sure the roll is approximately even.
With Thanksgiving coming, I'm going to be using this recipe several times. If anybody tries it, please let me know how it turned out!