Pie crust 101:
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to go through the trouble and time of chilling all the ingredients. Room temperature is just fine.
Ingredients for a two-crusted pie:
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 to 4 tbs. ice water
Whisk together the flour and salt. Add about 3/4 cup of lard and cut it in with a pastry cutter. Now this is the important part, and is why I didn't give you a measurement for the lard. When enough fat (lard) is cut into the flour, it will resemble little pebbles in the bowl. Too little flour will result in some of the flour not mixing in. Too much lard will form ribbons of dough when cut through with the pastry cutter. Adjust the fat and flour accordingly after cutting in the starting amount of lard.
Don't worry about overmixing at this stage as the dough can't toughen up until water is added (caution, butter contains a small amount of water, so when using butter, work the dough as little as possible). The water reacts with the two types of protien in the flour to form gluten, that rubber substance that makes breads and batters hold Co2 bubbles. Until that water is added, the gluten can't form.
When you achieve that pebble-like texture in the dough, add the ice water and stir jsut enough to wet everything. Divide the dough into two, equal halves. Flatten one half slighlty with your hands and place onto a well flured work surface. Roll from the center outward in all directions to make a rough circle about 3 inches larger than the rim of your pie-pan. Lay the pie-pan onto the dough, upside down, and trim the crust to make a circle that is 2 inches larger than the pan. Remove the pie-pan and carefully slide a thin spatula or cake-turner under the crust from all sides to make sure it isn't sticking to the work surface. Place the roller onto one edge of the crust and roll it to the other side, rolling the crust around it as you go. Unroll the crust over the pie pan and carefully push into the pan. Depending on the filling, you may want to brush with egg-wash and blind bake to form a shield agains liquid fillings. Otherwise, fill the raw crust with your filling, roll out the second crust as you did the first, and place it on top of the pie. Pinch the edges together and fold the excess between the crust and pie-pan. Flute the edges, cut steam vents, and bake according to recipe directions.
Your crust will come out so flaky and tender, you will wonder why everyone else goes through all that trouble that they teach you on food network. I'm convinced that they just want you to think it's difficult so they can feel superior to us ordinary mortals. my pies have won local contests, in fact, every local contest I've entered them in. I'm not amazing. I just use my head and pay attention to what's going on with the food while I do what I do with it.
Make your pie.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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