9 Creative Ways to Decorate Eye-Popping Pie Crusts
If pretty pie has previously eluded you, this could be your year to shine! We're sharing techniques for making creative edges and top crusts that let you add a personal touch, even if you start with store-bought dough. And just in case you need it, we've got an awesome, easy recipe for homemade pie dough.
By Nichole Aksamit
Give it an Edge
1. Finger Flute
Pinch outer dough edge with left thumb and pointer finger while poking inner dough edge with right pointer finger; work your way around the pie. Make your pinches small and pointy for a zigzag effect or loose and loopy for an exaggerated wave. The final look will reflect the unique size and shape of your fingers.
2. Geometric Cutouts
With a cookie cutter or a knife, cut about 60 small (1-inch) triangles—or other shapes—from rolled dough. Brush pie dough rim with water. Apply cutouts, brushing back sides with water, overlapping, and pressing gently to adhere as you work your way around.
3. Rope Twist
Hold left and right pointer fingers parallel, spaced about ¼ inch apart. Rest them at a 30-degree angle on dough rim. Press down to leave an indent, then squeeze dough between fingers to create a raised ridge. Rotate pan and repeat at same angle, working all the way around.
4. Fork Crimp
Press fork tines into dough edge, working your way around the pie. Set tines perpendicular to pan for a ridged border or angle them slightly to the left and right for a crosshatch effect. You can try this method with other utensils, such as the bowl of a melon baller or the handle end of a wood-handled spoon, for a different look.
5. Brush & Sprinkle
Want to add color, flavor, or texture? Brush your pie crust with cream, melted butter, or beaten egg, and sprinkle with sugar, spices, or chopped fresh herbs just before baking.
- Cream + Cinnamon + Sugar
- Egg + Coarse Sugar
- Butter + Herbs
Put a Lid On It
6. Random Shards
Cut a 6x12-inch rectangle of dough crosswise into four 3x6-inch rectangles. Cut rectangles in half diagonally to form 8 triangles, then cut 2 of them into smaller triangles and shards. Arrange randomly over filled pie, overlapping in some parts and leaving some parts uncovered. Trim overhang; flute or crimp edge as desired.
7. Monogram Cutout
Roll out dough to a 12-inch circle on a baking sheet or pizza pan lined with parchment paper. Chill 10 minutes. Use a cookie cutter or a stencil and a sharp knife to cut out and remove a monogram initial or other design. Slip hands under dough and transfer to filled pie. Trim overhang; flute or crimp edge as desired.
8. Fat Lattice
You don't need basket-weaving skills to make this easy lattice. Using a few wide strips in each direction does the trick. Cut a 14-inch circle of dough into six 2¼-inch-wide strips. Lay 3 strips parallel, spaced 1 inch apart, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fold alternating strips back to weave 3 remaining strips through crosswise. Chill 10 minutes on sheet. Slip hands beneath lattice and transfer to filled pie. Trim overhang; flute or crimp edge as desired.
9. Cable Knit
Cut a 12-inch circle of dough into eight 1½-inch-wide strips. Working in pairs, press strips together at tops; gently lace and wind them together without twisting dough. Lay finished strips parallel over filled pie. Trim overhang; crimp or flute edge as desired.
Homemade Pie Dough
Use this recipe: Flaky Food Processor Pie Crust
For single-crust pies with unbaked filling:
Transfer dough to a pie plate, trim overhang to 1 inch of rim, roll edge under, then crimp or flute as desired. Prick sides and bottom with a fork to avoid air bubbles. Chill 10 minutes in freezer or 30 minutes in fridge before baking. Line crust with foil and bake in a 450°F oven 8 minutes; remove foil and bake until golden, 6 to 8 minutes more. Cool and fill.
For pies with baked filling:
Transfer dough to a pie plate and fill pie (generously mounding if using fresh fruit, as it will shrink). Roll or shape top crust (if using), then lay over filling. Pinch top and bottom dough edges together to seal. Trim dough overhang to 1 inch of pie plate edge, roll edge under, then crimp or flute. Cut a few slits in the top crust (if using). Chill 10 minutes in freezer or 30 minutes in fridge before baking. Bake at 450°F 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F and bake until filling is bubbly and pie crust is golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes, depending on filling.
Using shortening and butter, with minimal water, makes this crust flavorful, flaky, and flexible. The key is to start with cold ingredients and work quickly so the dough stays cold.
Gluten-Free Pie Crust Variation
Use 3 cups Gluten-Free Flour Mix instead of flour, and add 4 teaspoons sugar before pulsing. Make and chill as directed. Roll dough out between 2 sheets of wax paper, chill before and after shaping, and then follow your pie recipe for baking. This dough is a little bit stickier to work with, but the chilling and wax paper help. It bakes and holds its shape beautifully.
Gluten-Free Flour Mix
Whisk together 11/2 cups white rice flour, 11/2 cups potato starch, 1 cup sorghum flour, and 2 teaspoons xanthan gum in an airtight container. Cover and store at room temperature up to 3 months. Makes about 4 cups.
Get it to the Pan in One Piece
For a 9-inch pie, roll dough into a 12-inch round. Fold into quarters or roll loosely around a rolling pin, transfer to pan, and unfurl.
Check out our collection of Pie Recipes.
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.