5 tablespoons butter (2 1/2 ounces)
2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold water
Cut up the butter and vegetable shortening (so they're about the size of diced vegetables) and let them sit loosely arranged on a plate in the freezer while you prepare your pie filling.
When you're ready to go back to your crust: Mix together the flour and salt. Add the cold shortening and butter and work everything together with your fingertips quickly so as not to melt the shortening. Try not to overwork the dough. When the mixture has the texture of very coarsely ground whole-wheat flour or cornmeal, add just enough cold water so that it is possible to roll it out. This can vary a bit depending on humidity in the room and your flour, so start with 3/4 cup and add just what you feel you need to be able to roll out the dough.
Flour a clean surface, divide the dough in half, and with a floured rolling pin or a straight-sided bottle, roll each piece out to about 1/8-inch thick. Use the long edge of a spatula to help move the crust to the pie plate. If it breaks a bit don't worry, any patching won't show anyway. Crimp the edges with your fingers, evening out the crust as you go.
If you're very short of counter space you can make a bottom crust without rolling it out. Just distribute the loose dough into the pie plate as evenly as you can and press it gently into the sides--if it holds together, don't worry what it looks like; once the pie is filled the inside of the crust won't be visible. Finish the edges as above, and fill.
Makes enough dough for one 10-inch, 2-crust pie.
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Excerpted from CUPCAKE CAFE COOKBOOK by Ann Warren Copyright© 1998 by Ann Warren and Joan Lilly. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.