Pie crust, often the cue of a strong baker, is seemingly simple and at the same time elusive for many. And while ingredients used are important, technique is also quite primary. There are many recipes that play with the amount of flour and the types of fats in ratios and type (lard, Crisco, butter etc.) it is a quest. I think spending time on the method is a bit more important, as it is in making biscuits. Over handle the dough and it will toughen. Go lightly and quickly. The following recipe is one that my long-time friend S. has begun using over the last year. He is a very good pie baker. He made the honey-pumpkin pie pictured above for Thanksgiving. The secret here is the amount of butter revealing a very flaky pie crust.
Adapted slightly from the Ad Hoc cookbook.
2 1/2 cups AP flour, plus additional for rolling
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks unslated butter, cut inot 1/2″ pieces and chilled
4-5 tablespoons ice water
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.
Add the butter and toss to coat with flour.
With two forks or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are small pieces resembling grains.
Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the ice water over the top and with a fork mix dough until it just comes together when pinched. If it is dry add a bit more of the ice water (not the cube) until it does stay together.
Quickly, using your hands or a combination of the forks and hands, bring the dough together until it is smooth and the butter is integrated. The less you touch it with the warmth of your hands, the better.
Divide the dough in half, shaped each into a 1″ thick round, wrap well in plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a day.
Lightly flour the work surce and a rolling pin.
Dust one of the rounds with flour and roll out to a 13″ or 14″ round and about 1/8″ thick. This will be the top of the pie. If making a one crust pie roll out an an inch or more beyond the size of your pie pan so that a crust can be formed.