I think pie crust gets a bad wrap. It is simple ingredients put together in a simple way. If you don't stress, the crust will be fine, and once you master pie crust, you open the door to so many yummy dishes, savory and sweet.
This recipe makes 1 pie crust.
2 cups flour
3/4 cups Shortening (see notes below)
Pinch of Salt
2 Tbsp Honey
6-8 Tbsp Ice-Cold Water
Fill a small bowl with ice cubes. Add water. Put off to the side to cool down.
Combine flour and salt. Add honey and shortening. Break up the butter into the flour until you have coarse chunks. I like to use a pastry cutter, but you can use a fork or even rub the mixture between your fingers. If you choose to use your hands, you may have to chill the crust a bit longer because your hands will warm up the butter.
Add about six tablespoons of the ice-cold water to the flour mixture and combine. You can use a fork, wooden spoon, or your hand, but again the key is to keep things as cold as possible.
Your goal is to ensure the flour has enough water to form a ball but not be sticky. If, after the first 6 tablespoons of water, there is still a lot of dry flour, add another tablespoon or so of water. Mix and then check to see if there is still dry flour. This can't be precise because your flour will change how much water it needs depending on how you store it, the humidity of the day, etc.
Once you can form a ball, put the dough into the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to relax and firm up.
After the dough has rested, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 of an inch. You want it thin but not too thin.
Transfer to your pie plate by folding the dough in half and then quarter. . This makes it easy to move without breaking. Place the folded pie crust into your baking dish and carefully unfold.
Trim the edges until you have just a little hangover and then fold the edges over. Crimp the edge by pressing the dough with your finger between your thumb and the forefinger of the other hand.
Prick or "dock" the bottom of the crust to ensure it does not bubble up while baking. Return to the refrigerator to chill for another 20 minutes.
In the meantime, I make the pie filling.
For any cream pies, fresh fruit pies with open, lattice, or streusel tops, or pie with a liquid filling - think pumpkin pie, you need to pre-bake the pie crust, so it does not get soggy.
To pre-bake the pie crust, line the unbaked pie crust with parchment paper. Weight the paper down with dry beans or rice. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes until slightly brown. Remove the beans or rice and cook an additional 10 minutes to dry out.
Remove from the oven. For fruit pies, you can fill and top them and place them back in the oven. For liquid/custard pies, let cool slightly before filling. For cream pies, let cook completely.
Your pie will be received with oohs and ahhs, guaranteed.
Shortening is the key to a flaky crust. If you want a foolproof recipe, use a combination of butter and vegetable shortening. When using this method, I prefer a 50/50 mix. The shortening provides softness to the dough, and the butter provides flavor and flake.
If you prefer to use only butter, make sure you give the pie crust enough time to chill between steps. The timing in the recipe above will work fine.
Additionally, I only use salted butter when I make a pie crust. I find the salt levels are perfect when adding a pinch of salt. Using unsalted butter may be recommended by others, but I find it difficult to achieve the right salt balance and sometimes leads to a bland crust.