Here is something from one of the book projects I currently have in the starting round of editing. Something for every day of the year going over kitchen wisdom, recipes, tips, tricks and my own experiences working in various kitchens.
January 5th– Ratios vs. recipes (quick pie crust)
Things do not need to be difficult to be good. Some times I will crack a cook book to find a recipe with too many ingredients, and many of which serving no purpose to the final dish. Pie crust is an ingredient that is a great example of this. Dozens of possible combinations between fats, flours, and flavorings may make things confusing. You will need a pastry cutter for this. Otherwise a pie crust is always within a three step countdown. Ratios you will find to be much more useful then complicated recipes. I will try to give ratios whenever possible in the future.
So three parts all purpose flour with two parts fat either shortening or butter and one part ice cold water. Pinch some salt in with the flour and give it a light stir with the hand. So which fat do you use? Shortening would be useful if you’re new to the crust game for the simple fact that it will not melt as easily so you have more time. Butter will bring better flavor and richer texture just realize that you will need to chill the butter even freezing it may be suggested. If you want to go halvsies on the fats I have found that will give you the best of both worlds.
Put your fat in the flour and using your pastry knife cut the fat in to the flour. This will take some time if you’re not used to it that’s ok. Now how much you cut it to depends on what you are using it for if you need a flaky crust such as the top cover to a double crust pie then you want to cut the fat to the size of frozen peas. Cutting to rice size fat granules will create a mealy crust. Reason for this is that when you roll the dough the fat flattens and the larger size lends itself to creating layers while the mealy crust will be structurally sound. Next add the water do so slowly stopping at the last tenth before kneading together if it seems a little dry then continue with the last tenth until amalgamated. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap before putting it in the fridge to chill before rolling out to whatever you need.
3 parts all purpose flour 2 parts cold fat 1 part ice cold water 1/8 tsp salt for 8 oz of dough.