I've never enjoyed using a pastry cutter. I guess I just don't have the patience to work butter or other fat into flour. Add using a rolling pin to that and you'll know why it took years for me to make my own pie crusts. It was just so easy to buy one from the freezer case at the store, all ready to fill and bake.
I've found a few tricks along the way:
Tip #1 - the most important tip - is to read the directions and actually follow them.
Tip #2 is to keep the butter really cold (or lard if you use it instead).
Tip #3 is to use ice water - water that you've chilled with ice cubes, not just cold water out of the faucet. You might even need to refrigerate the dough for while before rolling it, so patience is Tip #4.
But my best tip for you today is to use your food processor. It's so much easier than using a pastry cutter, or two knives, or a fork to mix the fat into the flour.
You can use your favorite pie crust recipe; the recipe I use for a one-crust pie calls for:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and sliced into pieces
4-5 Tbsp ice water
Place the flour and salt in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse it a few times to mix the two well.
Take the butter out of the refrigerator and add it to the food processor. Mix until it forms coarse crumbs.
Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition until a smooth ball of dough forms. You might need just 4 tablespoons; you might need a little more.
At this point, I put the dough into a bowl and refrigerate it while I make another crust or two so it can chill while I'm working. For Thanksgiving I made a cherry pie and two pumpkin pies, plus the crust for a turkey pie to be made with the Thanksgiving leftovers, for a total of five crusts (the cherry pie uses two crusts). If my food processor could handle it, I'd double the recipe to make two crusts at a time, but that's not an option for me.
Then use the coldest ball of dough, roll it out and move it into the pie pan. Back into the refrigerator they go while I make the filling. And you know what to do from there, right?
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a