Flaky Pastry Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut in small pieces, then chilled*
1/4 cup shortening, chilled
6 to 8 tablespoons ice cold water
Cut your fat into small pieces, then chill in the fridge. Mix all dry ingredients together, then cut the fat in quickly with a pastry cutter or by pulsing in a food processor. When you are finished some of the fat should remain as pea sized lumps with the rest reduced to the consistency of coarse crumbs. Be careful not to over mix.
Slowly add the water--just drizzle it in--and watch closely as you work it in with the edge of a spatula or continue pulsing. It should still look dry. Press down on the dough with a spatula, if the balls of dough stick together you have added enough water. If it didn't, add a little more water and mix quickly. Test again.
Divide the dough in half to make single crust amounts. Wrap the dough up by placing a portion of it on a piece of plastic wrap. Using the wrap, instead of your hands, push the dough into a flat disk. By making a flat disk at this point you make it a little easier to roll out. Refrigerate this for an hour or more to allow the dough to rest (the dough at this point can be stored in the fridge for 2 days or frozen for 6 months).
Remove from the fridge and roll out between two sheets of wax paper, then carefully transfer into pie crusts. These two steps require extra care and practice, for additional information on how to roll out a crust, please refer to the Joy of Cooking cookbook.
If your pie recipe requires pre-baking (such as for a custard pie) preheat oven to 350 F. Line pie crust with parchment paper and rice or beans to weigh it down. Bake for 20 minutes with weights. Remove weights, then bake an additional 10 minutes or until just golden. Cool completely.
*For a dairy free option, an additional 1/2 cup shortening can be substituted in place of the butter.
This is my favorite pie crust. The butter adds flavor and the shortening adds the flakiness. For Thanksgiving I make these pie crusts, roll them out, place them in the pie pans, then freeze until the day before Thanksgiving when I bake the pies. Recipe from the Joy of Cooking.