This makes two crusts, but if I'm making a pie that only requires one crust, I cut it in uneven pieces so I can have more than half of it for the one pie. That gives me more crust to form around the edge to make up for not having a top crust. Roll out smaller “half,” top with cinnamon and sugar and bake until golden brown OR use for a turnover if you have extra filling. (The reason the recipe yields enough for a two-crust pie to have a nice edge, but not enough for 2 one-crust pies is that the top and bottom crust are crimped together in a two-crust pie. But, each one-crust pie is on its own; you have to borrow what would have come from the top crust from the unused half, roll a larger disk of bottom crust, and roll the extra down along the top of the pie plate and “crimp” as if you had two crusts.)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (poured or spooned in to a dry cup measure)
1 cup shortening like plain-flavored (not “butter-flavored”) Crisco
1/2 cup WHOLE milk (NO SUBSTITIONS – worth a trip to the market if you don’t have whole milk)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 whipped egg
Roul’ Pat silicone mat (16.5” x 24.5”)
Silicone (preferred material due to its never, ever sticking) pie shield
Silicone (preferred material due to its extreme gentleness) pastry brush
Cake spatula (allows you to roll the crust a little thinner than other transfer methods)
9” Pyrex pie plate (crust tends to bake all the way through on the bottom in glass)
Paring knife (for venting a two-crust pie and trimming crust)
Add flour and salt to large mixing bowl, combine well. Add shortening. With 2 steak knives and in repeated X motions that go the width of the bowl, "cut in" the shortening to the flour until the pieces are large pea-sized. Add the tablespoon of vinegar to a measuring cup and fill to 1/2 cup with whole milk. Add to flour/shortening mixture and, with as few strokes as possible, incorporate with the knives and then your hands – do NOT kneed, just gently press/stir ingredients together. When it comes mostly together (there will be crumbs left out of the party), form into two balls (equal size for a 2-crust pie, lopsided for a one-crust pie), and press them into disks about 4” across and a generous inch thick (should resemble a large hockey puck). Chill for at least 30 minutes to allow ingredients to incorporate better AND to keep the dough from being as sticky before rolling and up to 4 days. If chilling longer than 30 minutes, let it warm up to cooler than room temp, but not ice cold.
To roll: Place a generous pile of flour on the mat, place thick disk on top of the flour pile and generously flour the top. Gently roll from the center out to the edges slowly enlarging the disk adding flour to keep the pin from sticking/tearing as necessary (it takes a lot more flour than you might think). The faster you try to make it go, the more likely it will be to split on the edges so be patient with the process. Hold the pie plate over the rolled dough to make sure it's big enough to come up the sides of the plate with enough extra to crimp between your thumb and fingers for the edge. With flour ahead of it, use the cake spatula to loosen up the entire dough and then get as much of it as you can on the spatula and transfer to the plate. Repair any tears within the pie dish completely.
Before filling a one-crust pie, brush sides and fluted edge with the beaten egg with a pastry brush.
For a 2 crust pie, roll the top, place on top and trim (hold one hand under the crust and press the knife gently through the crust to your hand) so you have just enough crust (about an inch of top and bottom crusts beyond the top of the pie plate) to seal and flute the edge (if there is any section that is lacking enough crust, cut and paste scraps from where you have too much). Then, brush whole thing with the egg. Use a paring knife to vent the top very well (not just a few decorative stabs) to prevent the bottom crust from steaming and becoming soggy (ew).
Bake on the bottom rack of the oven so the bottom crust get the most heat. Let the oven preheat at least 20 minutes regardless of the beep that says it's ready. It's not. Trust me. No one likes pie with crust that isn't done on the bottom, and no oven I’ve ever used is actually up to temperature when it beeps.
Use a pie shield the entire cooking time; it will brown despite (wrong) directions to remove the shield at some point. All you do when you remove it early is tear the crust (if you don’t use a silicone shield) and cool the oven down for no reason (big mistake), and possibly even cause burning (bummer). If you use a hard aluminum version, let the pie cool completely before you try to remove it even if it calls itself “non-stick,” it’s a lie. Be patient!
Use the directions on the pie you're baking for temperature and time. The crust will always work if you use the shield.
When checking the pie for doneness, lift it over your head to inspect the bottom. It should be golden brown. If not, it’s not done; put it back in to cook as long as you can without burning the top or ruining the filling (a custard pie like pumpkin needs to be taken out when it’s almost set in the middle regardless of how the bottom crust looks. It should be done, though – it’s easier to fully cook the crust of a one-crust pie.