I wrote up a list of my hard-earned lessons with pie crust (aka Part 1: The Dough, Before Filling) and there are several great links on that post so check it out. (Also, I tried this simplified version of Rose's Flaky and Tender Pie Crust recently. You should too.)
I should emphasize first that there are many, many paths to perfect pie pastry. You can mix by hand or in the food processor (my favorite). For the fat, you can use butter, cream cheese, lard, shortening or some combination thereof. You can roll on a pastry cloth, on a floured board/counter, between sheets of plastic wrap, or silpat mats. You can use a marble rolling pin, or a tapered wooden french rolling pin.
What I am aiming for is not to sell you on a particular tool or technique so much as to share the basics so you can find what works for you.
So once you have rolled out the dough, and have chilled it in the pie plate, what is next? Our major challenge is getting the filling properly cooked without overbrowning the outer crust, and the ultimate paydirt, a crisp (or at least not soggy) bottom crust. This is especially challenging for fruit pies, because fruit is basically water held together by fiber.
Preheat the oven at LEAST 20 minutes before baking, and use a baking/pizza stone (if you have one). Ovens take a long time to come to temperature and they don't hold a consistent temperature, they cycle on and off to maintain an average of the temperature you commanded it. Also, to take the mystery and suspense out of your baking life, get a cheap oven thermometer and keep it in your oven whenever you bake. Most ovens runs a bit hot or cool (my oven at home is a true overachiever, it runs 50 degrees hot) so if you use your oven thermometer to guage what temperature is really happening in there, you can adjust your dial/setting accordingly.
More to come - typepad ate the rest.