Pies, Pies, Pies!

Make a pie crust with flair!

So if you hadn't noticed, we have a thing for pie. Our love of pie knows no bounds. ANY pie. Some we like more than others but it'll be a cold day in July when we turn one down.
Our Mom makes the best pies. She whips them out so fast and so perfectly and so effortlessly, she could do it in her sleep. We are still learning from her. And boy do we like to practice our pie making skills. We love trying new techniques and are always trying to outdo the last pie we made. Though we are far from experts, we have learned a few tips and tricks over the years that may help ease the pie making experience. 
Grab some coffee and read along! 

How to make a lattice crust:

The size of pie you are making will determine how many strips you'll need.
After rolling out your pie crust, cut your strips. (Wide or narrow, your preference)
Next, place half of your strips over the filling of the pie, spacing them out evenly.
Now fold back every other strip. (See photos.)
Next, place the other half of your strips crosswise over the first set, folding back every other strip each time you add another crosswise strip.  Do you see a lattice forming? I hope so!
Once you're finished, trim off the ends.

I used extra strips from my lattice pie and twisted them together to make a pretty edge.

I used extra strips from my lattice pie and twisted them together to make a pretty edge.

Rolling the crust out between two sheets of wax paper makes life easier.

Rolling the crust out between two sheets of wax paper makes life easier.

Helpful Tips:

  • When rolling out pie crust, place it between two sheets of wax paper. This keeps it from sticking to the counters and rolling pin and gives a nice smooth surface. It also helps when you're transferring your crust from the counter to the pie plate. If you have trouble with the wax paper moving around while your rolling, wipe the counter underneath it with a damp towel. This helps the paper stay in place.
  • To really make your pie stand out, brush it with an egg wash before baking. Doing this helps your pie bake to a perfect, golden brown color and also adds a bit of shine. It also helps your crust stick together.

Basic Egg Wash

1 whole egg
2 Tablespoons of water (for a bit more shine or gloss, replace the water with milk)

Beat egg with water and use a pastry brush to evenly coat your pie in a thin layer before baking.

  • Biscuit cutters work well for cutting out decorative shapes to spruce up your pies!
  • When baking a fruit pie, you may want to remember to put a cookie sheet under it. This will keep you from cussing up a blue streak when it starts to bubble over and fill your kitchen with smoke.

How to make a pie with pie cut-outs

To make a fancy schmancy looking pie with lots of detail and not so much work get some pie cutters. They are cute and easy to use. I have some leaf ones I got online at Crate&Barrel, but you can find them all over the place.

You'll start by rolling a bottom pie crust out and gently placing it into your pie pan. You will then press it lightly around the sides and bottom.

You don't want the dough pulled too tight for any pie crust because it always, always, always shrinks and can wreck havoc on your decorative edging! 

Once you have pressed the sides and bottom in nicely you will want to trim the edges. I do this by hand, smoothing, and pushing and molding as I go. It is not too important for it to look clean and pretty at this point, you'll be "gluing" leaves onto the top of it. 

Now you will roll out some dough for your cut-outs (leaves in my case). I usually make one whole extra dough recipe just for the cut-outs. I like them to be a bit thicker  because then they are easier to handle and hold their shape better once they are in the oven. So if you are making a pie with a top and bottom crust you will want to make one whole extra crust for the cut-outs. If you have left over crust once you have finished you can, A. Whip up another pie ;) or B. wrap the extra dough in wax paper and then place it in a ziplock bag and put in freezer. Pie dough freezes really well, and it is nice to have an extra one on hand for a quick week night quiche...or apple pie...

So you will roll your dough out, a little thicker than your normal pie crust and then carefully cut out your edge with your cutters. It's pretty easy. If your pie crust is sticking to the cutters then usually that means you've rolled the dough out a bit too thin. Just do yourself a favor and ball it up and roll it out again, being careful to keep it on the thicker side this time. 


If you remove your cut-outs carefully you can then use the remaining dough for a lattice top. I didn't do that this time but I have in the past. Like with this apple pie I made from my kindergardener's Johnny Appleseed Day! 


Okay, so now you will take your egg wash and apply it to the edges of your dough. I use my fingers for this, but you can use a brush if you would like to and then you begin to carefully apply your cut-outs to the edge of the pie plate. Arrange them however you want to. Sometimes I over lap them, sometimes I leave a bit of space. Do whatever you want. Have fun with it.


Once you have placed all of your cut-outs on  you will go over it again with the egg wash. I use my fingers, it just gives me a bit more control and I am able to get the egg wash into every corner and crevice, making sure the entire crust is covered in egg wash and that no leaves are smudged or ripped. Now your pie crust is ready to go! I baked this one empty and then filled it with Milk Tart. 

Milk Tart in a leaf cut out pie crust. 

And as you can see, I baked the extra cut-outs and placed on top of the tart. 

How to make a braided crust

To make a braided pie crust you will follow the same steps as the cut-out, roll out and place the bottom crust inside the pie pan and clean up the edges of the pie dough. As with the cut-out's make an extra pie dough for the braid alone. Braids take a lot of dough and can be time consuming but practice makes perfect! Roll out your extra dough into an oblong shape, about 12in long and 8-10 in wide. Take care to not make it too thin. Next you will take your pastry cutter (or pizza cutter...or knife) and cut strips. I don't usually make mine wider than an inch but it just depends. There is  a lot of trial and error with this, but just remember that you can always ball up the dough and start again. Of course, there are always those times where you are in a hurry and decide to try and be fancy and end up with a big mess on your hands instead of a stunning pie...but let's just not think about that. 

Once your strips are cut, gently remove three of them and set on a spacious workspace and pinch the top of them together. Now you will start your braid. Go slow and don't worry if one of the strands break. You can carefully mold it back together and continue braiding. Once you come to the end of your dough, pinch off the ends to secure your braid. Set aside and then select three more strips to braid. Continue until you have enough braided crust to cover the entire rim of your pie pan. 


Next apply egg wash to rim of crust and begin to place your braids on the edge of the pie plate, molding and forming it to the bottom crust. There will be parts that don't look that great and that's okay, you can play around with them once you get all of your braid onto the bottom crust. 


Once all of your braid is in place you may notice some gaps or "ugly spots" of the braid. That is easy to fix. If you have a gap, take a piece of extra dough and fill it in until it is level with the rest of the braid. Then you can cover it up with an extra strip of dough, or you can even cut out a leaf (or free hand something with the extra dough) and place on top of the part that just isn't as pretty. 

As you can see, I placed a few strips of extra dough onto the parts where I connected my braid.

Cover the braid with egg wash and your dough is ready for filling! 

 "Well folks, there you have it! This is the best way I know how to make a delicious pie that will make all your friends pies look like a cow patty."