By following these seven simple rules, you can produce a flaky, tender crust every time.
1. When making the dough, make sure the butter is very cold.
2. Handle the dough as little as possible. Both the stretching of the dough and the warmth from your hands will further the development of gluten -- long, stringy protein molecules that form when flour is blended with liquid -- resulting in a tough dough that's difficult to roll out.
3. Since our pie-dough recipe yields two single crusts, divide the dough in half, and pat each half into a flat disk before wrapping it in plastic and chilling. This will make it easier to roll out each crust into a perfect circle.
4. Chill the dough thoroughly (at least 30 minutes) before rolling it out, and use a minimum of flour to dust the rolling pin and work surface. Brush excess flour from the rolled dough with a dry pastry brush before transferring it to the pie plate.
5. For an extra-crispy pie crust with a golden color, brush the unbaked top crust with water, and sprinkle it with sugar.
6. For a shiny pie crust, brush the unbaked top crust with an egg wash made from one egg and 2 tablespoons cream.
7. Cut decorative vents in the top of a double-crusted fruit pie; vents allow steam to escape and prevent the fruit juices from overflowing.