In your mixer bowl with the wire whip attachment add unbleached flour and salt. Mix well. Then add shortening or lard.
With a spatula or knife, cut the shortening or lard into smaller pieces. With mixer on lowest, using the wire whip, cut the shortening into the flour until pieces are the size of small peas. Don't over mix.
Remove the mixer bowl from the mixer. Sprinkle cold water over the mixture. Gently toss with a fork.
Repeat above, sprinkling 1 tablespoon of water at a time over the dry parts until all flour is moistened. Total 5-7 tablespoons of cold water.
Gently gather the dough together and form a ball. Divide the dough into half for the bottom crust. On a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough with your hand and roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness forming a 12-inch circle.
Fold in half and carefully place into a 9-inch pie plate. Unfold and pat, fitting the pastry into the pie plate. Avoid stretching. Fold extra pastry dough back and under, forming a high fluted edge to hold the filling.
Prick pastry generously on the bottom, sides and edges with the tines of fork to prevent puffing during baking. Lightly place a smaller pie tin, e.g. 8-inch disposable pie tin, over the crust.
Bake for 10 minutes, remove the 8-inch pie pan and allow the crust to brown, approximately 5 minutes. Watch closely. Remove from oven and allow crust to cool.
Basic Cream Filling for Pies and Puddings
In an 8-cup Pyrex glass bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt and mix well with wire whisk. Gradually add milk mixing well.
Microwave on high for 3 1/2 minutes. Stir. Return the mixture to the microwave and continue cooking on high in 1-minute intervals until mixture thickens.
Separate 4 large eggs. Beat egg yolks in small bowl with a wire whisk. Temper them with a small amount of cold milk or hot liquid. Return egg-yolk mixture to the pudding, mixing well. Microwave for 2-3 minutes on high; stir well. Reserve egg whites for the meringue.
Stir in butter and vanilla extract. Pour into a baked pie shell or individual sherbet dessert dishes.
Banana Cream Pie
Slice bananas onto bottom of baked pie shell. Top with 1/2 vanilla cream filling. Slice bananas on top of filling. Cover with remaining cream filling.
Chocolate Cream Pie
Add to sugar and cornstarch 1/4-1/2 cup cocoa. Mix well before adding milk.
Coconut Cream Pie
Reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup. Add 1 cup flaked coconut to cream filling. Consider omitting the vanilla extract as an option. I omit vanilla extract from the pudding because it overpowers the coconut flavor.
Bake: Preheated 400 degree oven Time: 8-10 minutes
In a mixing bowl with a wire whip, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Gradually add a little sugar at a time. Beat until all sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.
Spread on filled pie to edge of crust, sealing it to the pastry. Bake as directed or until meringue is golden brown. Cool gradually in slightly warm place. A chill can cause meringue to fall.