This simple recipe is an ideal base for many pies and tarts, sweet or savory.
Make sure all your ingredients are thoroughly chilled before you begin. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl, and stir to combine.
With a pastry blender or two knives, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture by pressing down quickly, using as few strokes as possible. You may leave a few pea-size pieces. Add 4 tablespoons water. Gather the dough and gently press into a ball. It should come together loosely; if not, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide dough in half; place each on plastic wrap. Flatten into disks. Wrap tightly; refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
Remove disks from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, press rolling pin gently all over dough to flatten it slightly. Working from the center to the edge in all directions, roll out dough into a round about 3 inches larger than the pie plate.
Wrap the dough around the rolling pin; lift and center it over the pie plate. Gently unroll the dough over the plate, leaving an even amount of overhang around the perimeter. Baking time depends on individual recipes.