I've made pies for over 40 years but never before successfully with a homemade piecrust. Before today, that is. Success today, thanks to a really good lesson from my niece, Marianne. This is her recipe. I hope I'll be making a lot more.
In a very large bowl, combine sugar, flour, spices and a dash of salt with apples. Mix well until all apples are coated. Set aside.
For the crust: Mix the flour and salt together; cut in the shortening with pastry blender or with two knives until pieces are the size of small peas.
Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. water over part of mixture. Gently toss with fork and push to side of bowl. Repeat till all is moistened. Form into a ball and divide in half.
Flatten one ball on a lightly floured surface by pressing with edge of hand 3 times across in both directions. Roll dough from center to edge until 1/8 inch thick.
Fit the pastry into pie plate; add filling; dot with butter. Trim 1/2 to 1 inch of crust beyond edge of plate. Roll out top crust and cut slits for steam to escape. Lift the pastry by rolling it over the rolling pin; then unroll loosely over the well-filled pie. Trim 1/2 inch beyond edge. Tuck top crust under edge of lower crust. Crimp edge of pastry as desired. Sprinkle with a little sugar and a dash of cinnamon.
Bake in a pre-heated 400-degree oven for 50 minutes or until done.
Notes: The best pie crust is made with ingredients that are cold. My niece keeps her Crisco, sugar and flour in the refrigerator. And about 15 minutes before she starts making the pastry, she places a small bowl of water in the freezer with a few ice cubes in it. Keeping everything cold keeps the fat from melting and helps make the pie crust flaky.