Perfect Pie Crust

I learned how to make pie crust from my grandmother Farish. She made the best pie I've ever tasted. Ever. I've changed her method a bit, but only because we have greater access to cool gizmos that weren't available way back when.

I like to use a silicone mat to roll out my dough, but any hard surface will do. You can also roll your dough between two sheets of freezer paper -- it's easier to transfer the rolled crust into a pie tin. Don't panic if your crust doesn't look perfect. Mine never does -- I don't mind if it looks a bit rustic. I care more about taste than presentation.

2 ½ cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup shortening
12 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water

Place butter and shortening in freezer for 15 minutes. When ready to use, remove and cut both into small pieces.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add butter and pulse 6 to 12 times until texture looks mealy. Add shortening and butter, and pulse another 3 to 4 times.

Remove lid of food processor. Using two tablespoons at a time, sprinkle surface of flour mixture thoroughly with water. Pulse put the lid back on the food processor and pulse 3 times. Repeat this process until the dough holds together when squeezed. Important: You may not need to use all the water. Check your dough after each series of pulses so that that it doesn't end up soggy. If you have used all the water, and the dough still does not hold together, use another 2 tablespoons and pulse again.

Divide the dough in half. Place each half in a large zip-top plastic bag and seal. While still in the bag, gently squeeze dough together until it forms a ball, and then press into a rounded disk. Refrigerate the bags of dough for at least 30 minutes (so the gluten will form).

Place your pie pans in the freezer for about 15 minutes before rolling out dough.

Prepare your work surface by dusting it with flour. Do the same to your rolling pin.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll out from center to about 1/8” thickness. Fold in half, lift into pan. Open and shape to pan. Add pie filling and then roll out the second disc of dough for the top crust. Cut off excess dough and crimp edges with fingers. If there is excess dough, roll out and cut decorative shapes with small cookie cutters to decorate top crust.

Bake according to pie directions. If you are baking shell only line the inside with parchment paper and weigh it down with about a cup of dried beans. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

If you don’t plan to make pie immediately, you can keep these discs in the freezer until ready to use. Let the dough thaw for about 15 minutes before rolling out.

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