Beyond the lattice: no-weave fancy pie crust

IMG_7493

I don’t know about you, but every time I look at a pie recipe and see one of those lattice-crust diagrams, I breathe a heavy sigh and turn the page. Or click to the next search result.

To those who love weaving lattice crusts: I salute you. You tell me it’s not hard, once you get the hang of it. You tell me, “Just follow the pictures; take it one step at a time.” You’re right. I’m a reasonably intelligent person, and I should be able to follow a few simple diagrams.

And then I click to the next recipe anyway.

Hmmm, old dog who can’t learn new tricks? Not at all. I’m at ease with everything from iPhoto to Instagram. I appreciate apps. I’ve even embraced online banking (though, despite my son’s scoffing, I still “balance my checkbook.”)

I can download and upload with the best of them.

What I have trouble with is offloading. As in, too much on my plate (and I don’t mean the dessert plate). Thus if there’s an easier/faster/just-as-effective way to do anything – I’m there.

So, what’s the purpose of a lattice-top crust on a fruit pie, anyway?

1. It looks pretty.

2. It allows more steam to escape, more quickly, from the bubbling fruit filling below – so the filling is less likely to be runny.

Well then, how about if I make a top crust that’s open enough to let steam escape; is handsome as a lattice, AND doesn’t require either following a diagram, or a post-grad degree in hand-eye coordination?

I’m on it!

pie1

Let’s cut right to the chase here. I’ve already made a Classic Double Pie Crust. Half of the pastry is in a 9″ pie pan, filled with Bumbleberry Pie filling.

The other half, I roll between two 9″ parchment rounds, the kind you use to line a cake pan.

Why the parchment rounds? Because they’re a great guide for the 9″ pastry round I’m shooting for; and they’re non-stick. Oh, and also, there’s no cleaning a floury counter afterwards.

Once the pastry is rolled, I trim the edges with a pair of scissors. Not strictly necessary; but it does make a nice round – no raggedy edges!

pie2

You can also roll on a parchment sheet, with a round on top – then trim with a pizza wheel. The advantage of this is, you can then use the parchment to line the baking sheet that’ll hold your pie as it bakes. The parchment will catch those inevitable sticky spills from the bubbling filling.

pie3

Next, select your favorite cutters. Hearts, circles, stars (my personal favorite) – whatever floats your boat.

Cut out designs, and lay them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle them with cinnamon-sugar, and bake them right along with the pie. Baker’s treat!

Heck, if you have a square cutter, you can even make a “faux lattice” by simply cutting out rows of squares.

Flop the crust, parchment-side up, onto the filled pie. Carefully peel off the parchment.

Press the top and bottom crusts together; make a simple crimp.

IMG_7466

Sprinkle the crust with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired. It’s pretty and glittery, and adds sweet crunch to your finished pie.

In case you’re wondering why that filling peeking through the crust looks rather brown and “sandy” – it is. I sprinkled the filling with a thick layer of cinnamon-sugar before adding the top crust – just because.

IMG_7467

Want to go the extra mile? Press some of the cutouts around the edge of the crust. I made some of these small stars out of the larger stars and trimmings.

Bake the pie.

IMG_7499

My, oh my…

A couple of hints:

Cold, firm pastry is much easier to work with than warm, soft/sticky pastry. As soon as your crust starts to stick – to the cutters, the parchment, or your fingers – give it a quick chill in the fridge.

Don’t expect perfection. The filling bubbles as it bakes, and inevitably it’ll spill up and over some of your pretty design. And that, friends, is why we use the word “rustic.” It justifies a multitude of culinary mishaps.

Enjoy!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Pat

    Simple and brilliant! Why does it sometimes take us so long to realize we are in a box and need to think out of it. ;-) I will definitely be adding this to my next pie.

    Reply
  2. naughtysquirrel

    good idea keeping it on parchment – I have tried those large circles with cutouts to make the decorative crusts and they are so hard to deal with (for me) – another job well done…NS

    Reply
  3. sonja

    The crust is pretty, but I love the idea of the parchment round! The most difficult part of pie-making (for me) is rolling out the crust to the right size, so I am totally doing this next time!

    Reply
  4. Connie S

    I do a variation on this. I cut out the stars or hearts and create a design on top of the pie. It works great on mini pies.

    Reply
  5. Lynn Ross

    That was a great idea! So helpful! I usually make a crumb topping on my pies as I don’t like so much crust. But this was a good way of eliminating some of the crust and making it look beautiful!

    Reply
  6. member-saramcclendon69

    Now that I have retired, I have time to re-learn to bake. It is just for me so learning to cook for 1 is a challenge. Reducing this idea to single pie sizes sounds like fun. Now looking for small cutters. Small stars, leaves, pumpkins, trees, snowflakes to decorate with. Already have the mini pans. Thanks again for your good idea.

    Reply
  7. David Earls

    Such a great idea. I only make little 6″ pies, but there are “micro cutters” out there – half-inchers – so I am all over this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Sorry, David, we’re not set up to do that – yet. But we hope at some point we’ll have the facility for customers to add their own photos to particular recipes on our site. In the meantime, we encourage you to either post to Instagram using #kingarthurflour, or to our Facebook site. I’ll look forward to seeing your photo! PJH

    2. "david earls"

      So sorry, I don’t use Instagram or Facebook. Luckily that doesn’t stop me from baking – blueberry pie today!!! Better yet, my wife seems to have tired of pie, so I may have to eat the whole thing myself…

  8. PoopseyMarie

    How brilliant PJ!!
    I am one who has looked at a beautiful lattice crust and yes, I too, turned the page. Your idea for the design and the parchment are ingenious. I’ve finally found a fix for all my pie woes. This makes such a lovely presentation and they’ll think I’ve slaved over that pie for hours!! LoL
    P.S. Love reading your posts

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Thanks – we’re sisters under the skin, I can see. I don’t think of it as laziness so much as… well, a desire to use my time effectively. Right? :) Enjoy – PJH

  9. Shirley

    She had a lot more small stars to go around the outside of the crust???Where did she get the crust???

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Shirley, read the blog and you’ll find out! But if you can’t wait – those are little stars I made out of the crust scraps. :) PJH

  10. Anna

    I like to use maple leaf cutters for my apple pies, so pretty…

    I’m up to eyeballs in blueberries (like 16 lbs worth from my 5 bushes in the backyard!) and I plan to can homemade blueberry pie filling in quart jars and gift them to busy folks.
    Lucky folks! What a good doobie you are! Susan

    Reply
  11. Joeleah

    PJ,
    What a wonderful post! A easier/faster way to a beautiful end product.
    .
    Susan’s reply to Anna made me smile, however. Do you mean a Do-Bee as in Romper Room (the children’s program)? It was always good to be a Do-Bee, a model of good behavior. On the other hand, the definition of “doobie” is quite (ahem) different. (I know you meant a compliment…) Regional expression?
    Best to you both, always.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Romper stomper bomper boo, tell me tell me tell me, do… Ah, all those alternate spellings! Yes, should have been Doo-Be, as in Mr. Doo-Be. (Boy, we are REALLY dating ourselves here, aren’t we? Millennials, pay us no mind!) Thanks for the correction – I’m sure she meant the friendly bumblebee version, not the [ahem] version. :) PJH

    2. Susan Reid

      Susan here. I guess I wasn’t old enough to read when I was still watching Romper room, or I never saw the term Do-Bee spelled out. I think I must have reverted to my “Doobie Brothers” default. And I know what that other thing is, too, I’m not COMPLETELY naive. Just didn’t occur to me!!! Susan

  12. Esther Smith

    Great pie! I have made it twice. Today I used a star cookie cutter to cut some of the top crust, attached the stars to the edges. The blueberries shrunk like I thought they would, but the crust did not. Can you tell me why? I did brush the crust with milk and cinnamon sugar.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Esther, it’s not unusual for pie crust to hold its shape, while the filling shrinks; this happens because the crust sets into its final shape long before the filling does, creating that gap (or ripple effect) you often see in top crusts. One thing you can try is cooking down the filling about halfway before spooning it into the crust; another is to make your crust with all butter, which melts more quickly than shortening, meaning the crust has more chance of “following” the filling as it shrinks. Good luck with your future pies, and remember – you can always call our baker’s hotline to chat – 855-371-2253. Cheers – PJH

  13. Mary Bowes

    Wow! Love the suggestion. This is better than lattice. You can use different cut outs for the different holidays. And parchment paper, super idea. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re very welcome! I hope your next pie is not only a breeze to make with these tips, but also equally as delicious! Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Katherine- Either works just fine. We sell both 8″ and 9″ parchment rounds on our website (which I must say are a wonderful convenience), but if you don’t have the ability to get the pre-cut rounds, you certainly could cut your own as well. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  14. SUZYQRN

    Here’s something I started doing years ago, because not only don’t I like to mess with lattice tops, but I don’t like to try to get the top crust “just so” and make a mess of it.
    Soooo. I started using various sizes of cookie cutters and cut the top crust into whatever size and shape I wanted to use. Then, starting at the outer edge of the pie would lay them, slightly overlapping and work my way to the center leaving the center open. Apply a lite coating of half & half with a pastry brush, sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake. So much easier and very pretty.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That sounds like a great alternative…ease and beauty, what more could you ask for? Thanks so much for sharing! Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *