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Flaky Pastry Dough

This dough makes a light, flaky crust that crumbles delicately at the touch of a fork.

Using a rubber spatula, thoroughly mix in a large bowl:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar or 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup solid vegetable shortening, or 1/2 cup shortening and 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
Break the shortening into large chunks; if using butter, cut it into small pieces, then add it to the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the fat into the dry ingredients. As you work, periodically stir dry flour up from the bottom of the bowl and scrape clinging fat off the pastry blender or knives. When you are through, some of the fat should remain in pea-sized pieces; the rest should be reduced to the consistency of coarse crumbs or cornmeal. The mixture should seem dry and powdery and not pasty or greasy. Drizzle over the flour and fat mixture:
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water
Using the rubber spatula, cut with the blade side until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula. If the balls of dough stick together, you have added enough water; if they do not, drizzle over the top:
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water
Cut in the water, again using the blade of the spatula, then press with your hands until the dough coheres. The dough should look rough, not smooth. Divide the dough in half, press each half into a thick, flat disk, and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and preferably for several hours, or for up to 2 days before rolling. The dough can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 6 months; thaw completely before rolling.

Yield: Two 9-inch pie crusts, or two 9-1/2 to 10-inch tort crusts, or one 9-inch covered pie crust

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