A tender, flaky crust is what separates a good pie from a great one. Here's how to make the leap.
Step 1: Mix flour and shortening Whisk the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add the shortening, and with a dough blender, or in a food processor, cut the shortening into the salted flour until the mix is full of crumbly, pea-size pieces.
Step 2: Add water Drizzle 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water over the dough, and mix it in with a fork until the dough is moistened, adding more water, five or six drops at a time, just until the dough sticks together. Form a ball, split the ball in half, and wrap the two balls separately in plastic wrap. Put them in the refrigerator.
Step 3: Prepare the dough for rolling After 30 minutes, take one half of the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a minute. Dust a flat surface with flour. Put the dough on the flat surface, and flatten the ball with the heel of your hand.
Step 4: Roll Roll the pin from the center of the dough outward a few times. Pick up the dough and turn it 90 degrees. Once again, roll from the center outward. Repeat twice more, until you've turned the dough 360 degrees and have a 9-inch round that is about ¼-inch thick.
TIP: Touch the dough as little as possible. If it sticks to the flat surface or to the rolling pin, dust it with a little more flour. Or, roll it between two sheets of wax paper.
Step 5: Put in pie plate Carefully pick up the crust and place it in the pie plate. Trim off the excess dough so the crust fits inside the plate.
TIP: To ensure you end up with a crispy crust, bake it for five to eight minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit before you add the pie filling. But leave it raw if you plan to add a top crust to the pie.
Step 6: Add top crust Add your pie filling. Set the pie aside, and take your second ball of dough out of the fridge. Leave it on the counter for a minute or two, and then roll it out. When it's the right size and shape, cover the filling with it.
Step 7: Finish and bake Tuck the edges of the top crust under the edges of the lower crust, and press together with your fingers. With a sharp knife, cut five vents into the center of upper crust to create a star shape, or use a fork to pierce a decorative pattern in the center. Bake your pie according to your recipe.
FACT: General Mills executive Marjorie Child Husted created the Betty Crocker character in the 1930s as the personification of the ideal housewife.