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With the holidays coming fast and furious, some of us get in the mood to show how much we love our family by baking them wonderful treats. Pie is one difficult task because it always comes down to the crust. If the crust isn't right, the pie will not be as good.
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 sticks of butter cubed and cold
1/2 cup of ice water on hand
Tips: If at all possible, the day beforehand, or way in advance it is a good idea to cut your sticks of margarine into small cubes, and place in the freezer for a half hour or so. It is important that you have cold butter and cold water so think ahead and make sure both are chilled well.
Cover your work surface with saran wrap or wax paper to make clean up easy, especially if you have Laminate or Butcher Block counter tops. Most doughs can be rolled between two pieces of Saran wrap or wax paper a lot easier and with less flour needed. This keeps your rolling pin clean too.
Step one: In a large bowl, sift your flour, salt and sugar together. Steaming them all through a sifter or fine mesh strainer will eliminate any lumps or bumps.
If you have a processor, by all means use it. Just remember to pulse and not over mix your flour which makes it less tender and flaky.
Step two: Add in small cubes of butter. A good trick is to take a metal potato masher and work in butter with the flour. Once this is done, use a hand mixer on high with short pulses until mixture is well mixed. Slowly, add a tablespoon at a time, your ice water and mix. Continue doing this until you have a dough ball formed.
Step three: At this time you can place your dough into the refrigerator and let it chill down.
Step four: On a lightly floured surface, place your dough ball out, and cut into to even sections.
Lightly cover the top with additional flour.
Step five: Working with your fingers first, work the dough out into a circular shape. Dust your rolling pin with a little flour and begin rolling. If you turn your crust after ever roll in a clockwise or counter-clock wise fashion you will end up with a uniform round pie crust. As soon as it is the size you need stop working the dough. Never over work your dough, but do just enough to get it prepared.
Step six: Now you may fill with your choice of filling, and cover with the other rolled pie crust. Pierce the top with a few slits to let steam escape and with a pastry brush you can either use clarified butter, a little milk or an eggwash to get a nice golden color on your pie. Sprinkle with some sugar after applying any of these washes and bake. Remember to seal the edges of your pie with either a fork, a spoon or pinch with your fingers. Enjoy!
Note: You can easily double this recipe and save whatever you don't use by freezing the leftover dough by wrapping it in wax paper and freezing in a freezer bag for later use. It is always better to have too much pie crust than not enough.