Let's start with the recipe...
This recipe was shared by my instructor and is the simplest and most flavorful I have used.
Chef New’s Recipe
1 cup flour (AP flour)
1/3 cup shortening or
( I used 3 Tbsp butter and 3 Tbsp shortening)
2-3 Tbsp ice water
The first thing to remember is to keep all of your ingredients cold. Cold shortening, cold butter, cold water and cold flour make for a better crust.
The second thing to remember is DON'T OVERWORK THE DOUGH. The more you work the dough the tougher the dough because of gluten development.
I use a cutter or a fork to "cut" the fat into the flour. You want chunks of fat and there are two basic consistencies. There is the larger chunks of fat that make for a flakier crust and then the mealy consistency which is more like the texture of bread crumbs with smaller little bits of fat. The mealy crust would be better for a sturdy bottom crust and the flakier crust is better for a top crust or lattice work.
You can use your hands but I tend to have warmer hands and melt the fat with my body temperature faster so I try not to actually put my hands into the flour as I mix. LOL
You want the dough to just stick together as you take a bit in your hands and press it together. Refrigerating the dough helps to allow the flour to absorb more of the moisture and gets it ready to work with and roll out.
The dough is good for about two roll out periods. Once you get to the third time of rolling out the dough it will no longer give you the flaky texture because your fat is too incorporated and won't build the pockets of air as it bakes. So, roll out one time and then take the leftover dough and it is good for one more time of rolling it out or using it for lattice or top crust.
Once the dough is chilled then you can roll it out and shape it into your pie pan. I ALWAYS refrigerate it again after it is in the pan because there will be some shrinking as the dough settles from being rolled out and stretched.
I also did an eggwash before baking to shine it up a bit.
A milk wash will brown it up faster.
Now, depending on what you are doing with the pie crust you will either bake it ahead (for pies like cream pies or chiffon pies) or bake it with the filling (for apple, custard or other fruit pies).
If you prebake your pie crust you will need to "dock" it which means to simply take a fork and poke little holes all over the bottom to keep it from bubbling up. I tend to dock and then "blind bake" it. Blind baking is when you put parchment paper in the crust and then fill it with rice or beans to hold the crust down so that it won't bubble either. If you are blind baking you will need to remove the rice or beans and continue to cook it to brown it. You want a golden brown crust. You can usually accomplish this in about 20- 30 minutes at 400 degrees or just watch it to see when it has the desired color.
Always cool it before adding fillings if the recipe calls for a prebaked crust.
For a fruit or custard pie you would simply put filling into unbaked pie crust and bake as the instructions for that pie call for.
Also, always cool pies before serving. Room temperature is good or you can refrigerate any of these pies over night. I have even baked pies in advance and frozen them for future use and all you do is thaw and then if you like you can reheat the fruit pies if you want them a bit warmer than room temperature.
You may not have my phone number to call if you have questions but I am always willing to answer them here or in an e-mail.