Ready to make your pies as beautiful as they are delicious? Taking your pie to the next level can be as simple as creating a decorative crust. To help you with that, we’ve gathered some of our favorite ways to make a pretty pie – plus, the tools that help make it possible!
But first thing’s first – you need a good pie dough. Not sure where to start? Here’s our favorite single crust recipe. For a pie with a solid or decorative top, double the recipe so you have enough dough to work with.
Besides having a chilled pie crust at the ready, the first step to beautifully decorative pies is to have the right tools on hand. A fluted pastry cutter is great for decorative edges and creating strips for lattice, while cookie cutters in shapes like leaves, or even geometrical shapes like small circles work well for solid-top pies and seasonal pies. Last, but not least, the bench scraper is a baker’s best friend – perfect for scooping, scraping cutting and prepping your dough.
Give your fall pie a gorgeous seasonal look by using a cookie cutter to shape leaves. Start with a fluted pie crust on the bottom, then roll out a second batch of dough to 1/8″ thick. Use a lightly floured cookie cutter to shape the leaves. Once you’ve cut the leaves into the dough, use a sharp knife to score a line down the center of each leaf and make 3 lines on either side for veins.
Starting at the center of the pie, place the leaves on top of the filling with the tips facing toward the edges. Continue placing leaves fanning out from the center, until you reach the edges of the pie.
While you’re working, you’ll notice some unavoidable gaps between the leaves. Don’t worry about these – as the pie bakes, the leaves will puff up and expand to fill the gaps.
You can also use leaves to decorate the outer edge of a single pie crust too. Just brush the edge of the crust with water and lay the leaves on top.
A fluted crust is a great way to go for a recipe that calls for a single crust. With its soft rounded edges, it’s simple, it’s pretty, and it’s easy to make!
Using the rounded side of a teaspoon (or soup soon for larger curves), press into the dough gently and use your thumb and forefinger on either side to press against the dough in the opposite direction. Continue around the edge of the crust.
Roll out the dough to 1/8″ thick – the lattice strips should be thinner than the bottom crust (about 2/3 the weight) so it doesn’t sink into the filling.
For the most eye catching look, we suggest choosing either a very thick (1″) or thin (1/4″) strip. Use a fluted pastry cutter or knife to cut long strips in the dough.
Lay half the strips across the pie horizontally, with the longest at the center. Fold every other strip back on itself and lay a strip vertically right up against the edge of the fold.
Unfold the folded strips over the newly placed vertical layer and then fold up the remaining strips. Lay another vertical strip here and place the folded strips back over that layer. Continue in this way until you reach both ends of the pie.
Trim the edges if needed with a sharp knife, then pinch the edge to seal.
Cut steam vents first. For best results, cut the vents into the dough before placing the crust on top of your pie.
Make it festive. Instead of doing traditional slits, try using a small to medium sized seasonal cookie cutter to take out a center vent. Fun and functional!
Keep the top light. Once again, make sure the dough is only 2/3 the weight of the bottom crust. The top crust should never be the same thickness of your bottom shell – a too-thick top will weigh down into your pie filling! You want it light enough to puff up. Think flaky, not doughy!
Ready for some hands-on instruction? Come take a class at our Bleecker Street Bakery and learn all the ins and outs of pie baking from an expert!
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