To prepare Paula's Perfect Pie Crust, sift together 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of fine salt in a large mixing bowl. Next, add 1/4 cup of cold vegetable shortening. Break the shortening into chunks and coat with the flour.
After the shortening is incorporated into the flour mixture, cut in 12 tablespoons of cold, cubed butter. Use a pastry cutter or your hands to work the mixture until it becomes crumbly. Incorporate the butter quickly so it does not have the opportunity to melt or become too soft.
When the mixture begins to resemble coarse cornmeal, start slowly adding ice water, small amounts at a time, until the dough starts to form. It takes approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ice water. Once the dough starts to come together, make it into a ball. Don't work the dough more than is necessary, because if it gets over-worked, it becomes tough and difficult to roll out.
Divide the dough in half and flatten it a bit so it forms a disk shape. Wrap each half in plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. When it is time to make the pie, roll out each half on a lightly floured surface into a 10- to 11-inch circle for a 9-inch pie.