2 cups all-purpose flour; unsifted
½ cup Pecan Valley Pecan Pieces; very finely chopped
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
⅔ cups vegetable shortening; chilled
4 tablespoons ice water; or up to 5 tablespoons
1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, pecans, sugar and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir lightly with a fork just until a soft, manageable pastry forms.
3. Divide pastry into 2 balls. Between 2 sheets of floured waxed paper, roll out one ball to an 11-inch round.
4. Remove the top sheet of paper and invert pastry into a 9-inch pie plate, letting excess extend over the edge.
5. Remove the remaining sheet of waxed paper. Trim pastry edge even with the rim of the plate.
6. To make braided pastry, between sheets of floured waxed paper, roll out remaining ball of pastry and pastry scraps to a 10-inch-by-4½-inch rectangle.
7. Remove top sheet of waxed paper.
8. Cut the rectangle lengthwise into twelve ⅜-inch wide strips.
9. Braid 3 strips together; repeat 3 times with remaining strips.
10. With water, moisten the rim of the pastry in the pie plate.
11. Place braids around the rim of the plate.
12. Trim off any excess braid and pat ends together where they meet.
Yield: 1 9-inch pastry shell