Gather your ingredients: Fill a 1-cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl – I like to use a very wide one, so I can get my hands in – whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Dice 2 sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender. [See photo 1].
Make your mix: Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly [photo 2]. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas – this won't take long – stop [photo 3]. Yes, even if it looks uneven; you'll thank me later.
Glue it together: Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You'll probably need an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you're pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there (see how that big bowl comes in handy?) [photo 4]. Gather the disparate damp clumps together into 1 mound, kneading them gently together.
Pack it up: Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap [photo 5]. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for 1 hour, preferably at least 2, before rolling it out.
Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/ freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for 1 day before using it.
– Deb Perelman
To Bake Crust:
Preheat oven to 400°.
Flour a work surface and roll dough out to a 1/4-inch circle [photo 6]. Lift and re-flour as you roll to make sure it doesn't stick. Gently fold in quarters [photo 7] and place point of folded circle in the center of a 9-inch glass pie pan [photo 8]. Unfold and press into the corners of the pan [photo 9]. Fold excess under itself and form a smooth edge [photo 10]. Crimp the edge with your thumb and fingers [photo 11]. If crust seems at all warm, place in fridge or freezer for 10 minutes before baking. Cold butter equals a flaky crust!
Place a layer of foil over crust and press into corners. Pierce bottom foil and crust with a fork, leaving about an inch between each puncture. Fill with dried beans, rice or pie weights [photos 12 and 13].
Bake crust on lowest rack for 15 minutes. Remove crust from oven, take out weights/dried beans and foil. Put crust back in oven to bake an additional 8–10 minutes, or until center looks dry and begins turning light brown.
Reprinted with permission from Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen blog (SmittenKitchen.com).