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Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

For perfectly flaky pie crust, correct technique is a necessity

The difference between flaky and mealy pie crusts is mostly in the technique.
While the latter is made by simply combining all of the ingredients, flaky involve smearing the fat into the flour. This produces a layering (and therefore flaky) effect during baking.
Flaky pie crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cold, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup shortening
1/3 cup ice water
In a large bowl, toss together the salt and flour. Add the butter chunks and the shortening, then use your fingers to smear them into the flour. The goal is not to mix the fat into the flour, but to break down the large chunks.
When the chunks of butter and shortening all have been pressed into the flour, drizzle the ice water into the mixture, tossing it together. It will not resemble a cohesive dough.
Pour the mixture onto the counter, then form it into a pile in front of you. Using the heel of your hand, smear the mixture against the counter. Work from the side of the mixture farthest from you and press away from your body, smearing a bit more of the mixture with each press.
Once all of the mixture has been smeared with the heel of your hand, gather it together again and repeat the process. At this point, your mixture should look like a shaggy dough. Gather the pieces and gently squeeze together into 2 discs, each about 1 inch thick. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to make the pie, on a lightly floured surface roll one of the discs into a 13-inch circle. Always roll from the center of the disc and turn frequently to prevent sticking.
Fold the dough in half, then again to form quarters. Lift the triangle of dough into your pie pan, putting the folded point in the center of the pan. Gently unfold the dough to cover the whole pan. You should have a generous overhang once the dough is all settled into the corners of the pan.
If using a top crust, fill the bottom crust with your pie filling as directed, then repeat the rolling, folding and moving technique with the other disc of dough.
Trim the overhang of dough to 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan. Fold the edge of the dough under itself, pinching to seal. Using either a fork or your fingers, crimp the edge of the dough around the pie and against the top of the pie pan.
If using a single crust recipe, fill your pie after crimping the edges of the crust. Bake as directed for your pie recipe.
Makes 2 crusts (for 1 double-crust pie or 2 single-crust pies).

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