Below is the recipe and technique (with pictures) on how to make an amazing, buttery, flaky pie dough. I'm going to break it down into three steps for you: making the dough, preparing the shell, and blind baking the shell.
1 stick of butter, cut into 1/2" cubes and chilled in the freezer
ice cold water (about 5T)
For sweet pies (like fruit pies):
All the above ingredients, plus
Step 1: Making the Dough
Gather all of your ingredients and equipment (called mis en place). In addition to the ingredients, you will also need a food processor. Note that the butter and water should be ICE COLD.
Measure out the flour and salt. Place in the food process and pulse a few times just to combine.
Add the butter as shown above and pulse (about 15-20 times)until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Gather the dough and wrap in cellophane. Press into a disc and place in the fridge for at least an hour or up to two days. This allows the dough (and gluten) to relax and keeps the butter nice and cold. And allows you to take a little break.
Step 2: Preparing the Shell
Gather mis en place. Flour, for dusting, Pam or some other nonstick spray, kitchen shears, rolling pin, pie plate (I prefer glass), fork, and chilled pie dough. Remember to clean and sanitize your work surface prior to beginning.
Lightly flour the work surface and roll out dough. Rolling the dough will take some amount of practice. Remember to use plenty of flour to prevent the dough from sticking, but not too much flour. It's a delicate balance.
Roll out a little bit, from the center up, pick up the pin and put it back in the center and roll down. Turn the dough about a quarter turn and repeat. Occasionally, I flip the dough over, dust with flour and continue.
I typically roll to about a 13-15" circle, but it doesn't have to be exact, and about 1/8" in thickness.
Grease the pie pan with the non stick cooking spray. Carefully pick up the pie dough and place in the pa, allowing the dough to drape over the sides.
While turning the pan pan, lift up the dough on the edge and encourage as much as the dough as you can to the bottom of the pan. You aren't really pushing on the dough, but feeding it down to the bottom. This ensures that the dough will not sink on the edges during the baking process.
Trim the sides to about 1/2" all the way around with kitchen shears.
Fold the edges under and crimp.
Using the fork, dock the dough (making lots of little holes) to allow the steam to escape during baking. Place prepared pie shell in the freezer, allowing the shell to harden (and gives you a little time to relax). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Step 3: Blind Baking the Shell
Blind baking refers to the process by which the crust is baked prior to adding the filling. By using pie weights (or rice in my case), it allows the dough to bake without bubbling with steam, resulting in a nice crispy layer of dough.
Lightly spray the chilled pie shell with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights, uncooked rice, or dried beans. Whatever you can use can be reused over and over again, so keep it for next time. I store them the rice in a mason jar and use the rice only for my pie dough.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
Allow pie shell to cool. Add appropriate pie filling and follow instructions on whatever recipe you choose to use.