Rolling and Transferring Dough
Once the shortening or butter, and water have been combined, the next steps in making pastry are to roll the dough into a thin, even disc and to gently fit it into a pie plate or pan.
A variety of sufaces work well for rolling out dough; use the one most easily available to you. A smooth countertop provides the largest work area, while a wooden or plastic board has the advantage of portability and can be stored when not in use. Marble is a good choice because it stays cool (a plus when working with dough), but it is heavy and expensive.
Choose a rolling pin that feels comfortable and rotates smoothly. Generously flour both rolling pin and work surface -- as well as the dough -- to prevent sticking. Excess flour is easily swept away with a pastry brush later on. Or, slip a cloth stocking over the pin (be aware, though, that the ribbing imprints the dough) and work on a flour-sprinkled pastry cloth.
For an evenly browned pie, select a heat-resistant glass or dull metal pie plate. Dark metal pans cause crusts to brown faster and darker, while shiny metal deflects heat and is best reserved for unbaked crumb crusts. Ceramic is the least effective heat conductor.
Set the ball of dough on a floured surface. Prepare the dough for rolling by flattening it into a thick, round disc. Press down while at the same time patting the edges to keep them smooth and in a circle.
Dust the surface with more flour, if needed, and rub the rolling pin with flour. With a light, fluid movement, roll from the center of the dough out to the edges. Move the rolling pin around the dough to make a circle that is uniformly thick and well shaped. Alternatively, roll the dough, give it a quarter turn, then roll again. Repeat this rolling and turning action until the dough is of the desired thickness.
Loosely drape the dough around the rolling pin and lay it across the pie plate. Unroll and gently ease the dough into the plate without stretching it.
Transferring by Hand
If you prefer, fold the dough in half, then in half again, and set it in the pie plate, placing the center point in the middle of the plate. Carefully unfold. Be sure to center the dough so there is an even amount around the edge.