For the sake of simplicity, I’ll stick with a basic formula that produces a flaky, tender, nicely browned, and all-around delicious crust. For an 8- or 9-inch single crust pie, I use 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon table salt, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar together, 4 ounces of butter (or 3 ounces butter with 1 ounces lard or shortening), and 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water.
Start with very cold fat
My favorite fat choices:
3 parts butter with 1 part leaf lard: Ideally rendered leaf lard, purchased at a farmers’ market.
All-butter: Plugra or other European-style butter
3 parts butter with 1 part pure vegetable shortening: such as Spectrum Organic all-vegetable shortening
Work quickly to combine fat and flour
The trick is in cutting the butter into the flour-sugar-salt mixture quickly. A chilled stand mixer and paddle attachment needs about a minute on medium-low speed. Eight 1-second pulses should do it on a food processor. If you are also using lard or shortening, add them in a little more than halfway into the mixing process. You can also use a bench scraper on a cold work surface.
The largest chunks of fat should look roughly like nickels (they’ll be flat in a stand mixer) or peas (in the food processor).
Add just enough ice water
If there's still a lot of dry flour, add another teaspoon or so of water and continue blending just until the dough begins to come together. Turn the dough onto a work surface and bring it together to form a disk.
Roll dough from center outward
My favorite way to roll dough is to use two well-floured silicone liners. Whatever you do, make sure your surface is clean, dry, and cool. Start from the middle of the disk and roll outward in every direction: north, south, east, west, northeast, southwest, etc. Check the dough often to make sure it's not sticking and dust it lightly as needed. Flip the dough once or twice to make sure the dough is rolled evenly and is not sticking on the bottom. When you have a large round that's about 1/8-inch thick, you’re ready to transfer it to your pan.
Transfer dough gently to pie pan
Crimp and chill
Kitchen shears make a quick decorative edge. You can also use the tines of a fork, or your fingers to pinch a pattern onto the edge of the pie.
Once you’ve made your fancy edging, give it a final chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
Blind bake, fill, or freeze
Fill and Bake: You can also fill the pie with a fruit filling, add a lattice, crumb topping, or top layer of pie crust dough and bake it.
Or, freeze the uncooked crust and save it for another day.