This is Nona, my Mother's Mother and the woman who taught me how to make a pie from scratch.
She was a feisty woman who lived through two husbands, a fire that destroyed her home and at age 50 she donated her liver to her only son. After her second husband passed she lived independently in her home for the rest of her life. Needless to say my sisters and I respect and admire the woman she was and what she taught us.
I loved being in the kitchen with her. She was a true southern woman and her food reflected that. Her classic Lemon Meringue and Chocolate pies made it into her Baptist Church Cookbook-I did not know this until years later-she was not a boastful person.
I learned from her how to make a pie dough with lard from the local Piggly Wiggly and egg white meringue that we piled a mile high and let get golden brown in the oven.
I reference her in every pie class since everything I know I learned from her.
1) Ice Ice Baby
Ice water mixed with flour gives pie crust dough the structure it needs to hold together. The amount of water you use is critical; too much, and you've made a sticky mess. Too little, and the crust won't hold together, or will crack around the edges as you roll. I also like to make sure the rest of my ingredients are ice cold to slow down the production of the gluten in the flour.
2) Who You Calling Fat?
Which ever fat you use make sure it is COLD. This will make the dough easier to handle and will result in a flakier pie crust. Large chunks of fat are good in the crust. The water in the butter will create steam while baking and will result in tender flaky crust.
3) Drop Some Acid
I used to think for years that adding a little acid (lemon juice, buttermilk, vodka) stopped the production of the gluten in the flour and yielded a flakier pie crust. Then I read this article and this one. So I save my vodka for my weekend beverages.
Happy Pie Dough Making!!