Combine flour and salt in a bowl. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (the size of small peas).
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time over the mixture and toss gently with a fork. Repeat until dry ingredients are moist and mixture forms a ball. Use only as much water as necessary to moisten flour.
Shape into a ball. (For a double-crust pie, divide dough in half so that one ball is slightly larger than the other.) On a floured surface or floured pastry cloth, flatten the ball (the larger one, if making a double-crust pie) into a circle, pressing together any cracks or breaks.
Roll with a floured rolling pin from the center of the dough to the edges, forming a circle 2 in. larger than the pie plate. The pastry should be about 1/8 in. thick.
To move pastry, roll up pastry onto rolling pin. Position over edge of pie plate and unroll. Let the pastry ease into the plate. Do not stretch the pastry to fit. For a single-crust pie, trim pastry with a scissors to 1/2 in. beyond plate edge; turn under and flute. For a double-crust pie, trim pastry even with plate edge. For a lattice-crust pie, trim pastry to 1 inch beyond plate edge. Bake the shell or fill according to recipe directions.
Recipe: Pastry for Single-Crust Pie >
How to Make Top Crust for Double-Crust Pie
Roll out second ball into a 12-in. circle about 1/8 in. thick. Roll up onto the rolling pin; position over filling. With a knife, cut slits in top to allow steam to escape while baking.
With scissors, trim top pastry to 1 in. beyond plate edge. Fold top crust over bottom crust.
To flute the edge, position your thumb on the inside of the crust. Place the thumb and index finger of your other hand on the outside edge and pinch pastry around the thumb to form a V-shape and seal dough together. Continue around the edge.
Recipe: Pastry for Double-Crust Pie >
Pie Pastry Tips
- Classic pie pastry recipes are prepared with solid shortening, but lard or butter-flavored shortening can be substituted for plain shortening if desired
- Measure ingredients accurately, using the measuring tools and techniques called for in the recipe
- Use all-purpose or pastry flour
- Combine flour and salt thoroughly before adding the shortening and water
- Before you measure out the flour and shortening, place about 1/2 cup water in a glass measuring cup and some ice cubes so the water is ice cold when you measure it
- Avoid overmixing when adding the water to the flour and shortening mixture to prevent tough pastry
- Chill pie pastry dough for 30 minutes before rolling to make it easier to handle
- To make pastry ahead, shape dough into a flat disk and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; store it in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days
- A floured surface keeps the dough from sticking when rolling out pastry
- Pastry can be rolled out between two sheets of waxed paper—roll it out, peel off the top sheet, invert it into the pie plate and peel off the remaining waxed paper
- Stretching the pastry will cause it to shrink during baking
- Use dull-finish aluminum or glass pie plates for a crisp golden crust (shiny pans can produce soggy crusts)
- Do not grease the pie plate unless the recipe directs
- Do not prick the bottom of a pastry crust when the filling and crust are to be baked together or your filling will leak
- Preheat the oven
- Bake pies in the center of the oven
- Cool pies on a wire rack
How to Make Decorative Pie Crusts >
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