A perfectly delicious, flaky homemade pie crust isn't out of reach. In fact, you don't even need a food processor to make this version by the Elsen sisters, who own the famed Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie shop in Brooklyn.
Use a bench scraper to cut butter into ½-inch cubes. (If butter begins to "sweat," dust with flour.) In a large, flat-bottomed bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter cubes and toss to coat with the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour; do not smash or smear the butter. Scrape butter off the pastry blender during the mixing process and continue mixing. (If butter is softening too fast, put the bowl in the refrigerator until butter firms up, 2–5 minutes.) Continue cutting, working quickly, until butter is broken down and looks like a coarse crumble with only a few larger pieces.
Combine vinegar with water and ice; you’ll use 10–12 tablespoons of this liquid in the pie dough. Begin by sprinkling 4 tablespoons of liquid over the flour mixture; use a bench scraper or your hands to incorporate until the mixture begins to come together. Sprinkle in 4 more tablespoons of liquid and continue the mixing process. Squeeze a fistful of dough: if it holds, like wet sand, it’s ready. If it falls apart, add 1–2 more tablespoons of liquid at a time, squeezing the dough to check if it holds. Bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of liquid as necessary; dough will look shaggy. Knead in the bowl just until incorporated.
Turn dough onto a work surface and use a bench scraper to divide dough into two equal pieces. (Note: If you're making the Blueberry Slab Pie, do not divide the dough; shape it into one large, flat disk.) Shape into flat disks and wrap in plastic; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and frozen up to 1 month, tightly wrapped. (Note: If you're making the Peach Skillet Pie, stop here; you'll begin that lesson with two chilled disks of dough.)
Generously grease pie dish with softened butter. Dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Place one chilled pie disk on the work surface and lightly dust it with flour. (Reserve the other disk to use as a top crust for the Salted Caramel Apple Pie or Peach Skillet Pie, or to line a tart pan for the Farmer Cheese and Thyme Pie.)Roll dough by starting at the center and lightly pressing down with the rolling pin to flatten slightly. Rotate the dough and repeat, pressing down so it’s evenly flattened all around, about ⅛-inch thick. Then roll outward to make a circle, rotating the dough a quarter-turn at a time to keep it even. (If dough is softening too fast, chill in the refrigerator until firm, 2–5 minutes.) Roll the dough until it's about 2–3 inches larger than the pie dish, all the way around. Use a pizza wheel to trim away the rough edges. (Save the scraps to make crust cookies!)
Overturn pie dish onto the center of the dough circle, then remove and place it right side up on your work surface. Use the light indentation created by the rim as a guide for gently positioning dough into the center of the dish. (If dough is softening too fast, put it back into the refrigerator until it firms up, 2–5 minutes.) Fit dough gently into dish, being careful not to stretch it. Begin crimping the edge by using your fingers to roll the dough firmly so it rests on top of the rim. Crimp by using your index finger and thumb on one hand to squeeze a letter “C” into the dough rim. (Lightly flour your fingers if the dough is sticking.) Repeat, crimping the entire pie and making sure the final fluted crust sits directly on top of the pan’s rim. Chill until it is ready to be filled and baked.