Keeping your pie dough ingredients cold is key! Especially the butter. If you can cut it into cubes and chill or even freeze the butter to start, that is perfect. I like to use my fingers to make the dough, so working quickly is key. I sometimes even chill the bowl and flour, and even run my hands under cold water before I begin.
You can also make the pie dough in a food processor, pulsing in the butter to get coarse crumbs, and pulsing in the water to form the dough. I personally like to feel the dough and do it by hand…plus, I will do anything to avoid the extra dishes!
To make the pies ahead, assemble completely but don’t brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Freeze the pies on the cookie sheets until solid then place in a freezer plastic bag. Freeze for several weeks. Before baking, just brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. No need to defrost, bake from frozen state an additional minute or two.