I include three recipes for crusts in Pie Town Pies, plus instructions on blind-baking crusts for custard or cream pies. This is the most basic recipe you can master. A tip: Every day, pie crust comes out differently. If the mixture seems too dry to hold the shape of a ball, add a little more water, but don’t add too much at a time. Most of all, have fun with it. This is your creation.

5 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes

5 ounces lard or shortening*

1 egg

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or
white vinegar

Ice-cold water

*You can omit the lard or shortening by increasing the butter to between 1½ and 1¾ cups.

Makes 5 Crusts

  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, two knives, your fingers, or even a food processor (but only on the pulse setting), cut in the butter without smashing it into pieces smaller than peas, then cut in the lard or shortening until the mixture roughly resembles coarse sand, with small lumps of butter still visible.
  2. Break an egg into a liquid measuring cup. Add vinegar to the egg, then add ice-cold water to make one cup. Beat slightly with a fork.
  3. Slowly add the liquid mixture, a little at a time, to the dry ingredients, working lightly with a large fork or your hands until the dough is moist enough to hold together. Add more water if it seems too dry. Scrape the bottom of the bowl as you work, to ensure that all the flour is being incorporated.
  4. Without overworking the dough, take about one-fifth at a time and use your hands to gently form it into “snowballs.” Don’t compress them.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, gently shape balls into disks that resemble thick hamburger patties. It may take some patience to persuade the dough to stay together. Gently transfer each disk into an airtight plastic bag and chill for 20 minutes to an hour. At this point, dough disks can be rolled out for immediate use or frozen in airtight bags for later.

Read more: This recipe originally appeared in "Pie Lady's Favorite Pie Recipes" by Kathy Knapp.