I have to link to this pie crust recipe because it is a combined miracle of serendipity and google's search engine.
While visiting my in-laws last week I decided to make a pie, but I didn't have my normal pie crust recipe around, so onward to the Google I went and found this lovely recipe. When I say lovely I mean my father in law mentioned this pie crust at least half a dozen times over the course of 4 days. He's an easy man to cook for in some ways (like Allen he likes plain homey food), but when he goes around talking about several days after said pie was made you know you've found something.
I don't want to violate copyright, so I'll just tell you to view her wonderful recipe for yourself and then I'll jot down a few observations.
You back yet?
I usually make pie crust by hand (unless I'm making a three or four at a time) because it's really not much harder. Also, I think it keeps me more in touch with how the dough is developing. Learning to have a "light hand" with pastry is the proverbial skill that will keep things coming out flaky and delicate. Speaking of which, here's a trick I learned that may have helped with this recipe. After cutting in your shortening agent take a fork and gently toss or whisk the dough for a couple seconds after adding each table spoon of water. You'll be left with lots of dry bits, but try to resist the urge to add more water. Otherwise you might end up with a tough crust. If it doesn't work out quite right the first time you can adjust it later as you get a feel for the dough.
So you've resisted adding more water, and now you're staring down at a rather dry, distinctly un-crustlike assemblage of butter, flour, and salt. Well, since you didn't over mix your dough you should be able to turn all that out on the counter and smoosh (ok, knead) all the bits together without worrying about ruining your crust. Stop just before you think you should and then get after it with a rolling pin. I rarely wait to chill my dough anymore, and I have very few problems with this so long as the dough isn't too wet in the beginning. The rolling pin should get all the last bits together. Just remember to keep turning the dough frequently (and sprinkling flour over it) so it rolls out easily and doesn't stick or tear. (I forget this a lot - especially when I start rolling.)
And one final tip for crusts that I had heard but never took seriously. Trim the bottom crust a little bit long and fold the extra under. A very little will do. When I go to crimp the crust it looks much more finished and doesn't seem to shrink as much in the oven.
Even if you have a working pie crust recipe I recommend you look this one up. It's light and buttery and flaky and everything a good pie crust should be.