I don’t know about you, but when I look through slick magazines and see pictures of “fancy” pie crusts, I am totally intimidated! Just making the crust and pie filling is hard enough right? Making the pie crust look magazine-worthy is just asking too much! Well, my daughter Britta completely changed my mind (and blew my mind at the same time!) this week when she decided to see if she could not only make her first pie EVER, but make it beautiful as well. It was a humbling and awe-inspiring experience to be sure. :-)
Today she’s breaking down the steps for us. It’s much easier than you think!
Making a braided crust is just a little bit tricky, but the result is so worth the effort! You’ll start by rolling out your crust to around 10 or 11” and putting it in your 9” pie pan. Take the overhanging edges and tuck them under, creating a smooth and rounded edge. Place the pan in the fridge to keep it cool while you create your braid.
Using some extra crust, roll out a long, thin section and cut it into thin strips. Take three of the strips and braid them together. When you reach the end of a strip, attach another strip to the end of it using some water. (This is the hardest part! Just be patient and don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t look absolutely perfect. We’re not trying to compete with Martha over here!)
Once you’ve braided a circle the size of the edge of your pie crust, take your pan out of the fridge and brush the edge with some water to moisten it. Carefully (and hopefully with a helper!) transfer your braid circle to the edge of your pie crust. Press lightly to help the braid stick to the crust.
Brush the inside and top of the crust with an egg-wash (if you want!), then fill and bake as normal.
The cut-out crust is definitely easier than the braid crust, with results that are just as dramatic! The thing I love most about the cut-out crust is that each cut-out has so many delicious, flaky layers once it’s baked. Who could resist that??
This crust starts out the same as the braided crust, by placing your rolled out dough into your pan and tucking the overhanging edges under. Roll out some extra dough and use a small cookie/pastry cutter to cut out a couple dozen dough pieces. (Using my decorative rectangle cutter, I needed 27 pieces to line the crust entirely.)
Once your pieces have been cut out, moisten the edge of your crust with some water and begin placing the pieces around the edge. You can also moisten the back of each piece to make sure it stays put.
Overlapping each piece slightly, keep placing your cut-out pieces until the whole crust is covered. Brush the crust with an egg-wash if you want, and fill and bake as normal.
Fall Foliage Crust
This crust is definitely the simplest to do out of the three crusts we tried, and it also gets bonus points for being extra festive! I love the rustic look of it!
With your crust in the pan and the edges folded under, use the tines of a fork to create a simple design around the edge. We did a cross-hatch pattern by pressing the tines at an angle one way, and then the opposite way, all the way around the crust.
Roll out some extra crust and use a fall-themed cookie cutter to cut out a few pieces to go in the center of your pie. Since our leaf cutter was a pretty decent size, we only used 3 pieces.
Important Note: If you’re making a pie with a liquid filling like pumpkin or sweet potato, you’ll want to leave your pieces OFF of the pie at first. If you try to put them on now, they will just sink to the bottom. So fill the crust with your liquid filling and let your pie bake for about 20 minutes or so, just long enough to let it set up a bit, before placing your dough pieces on top. This way the pieces will still bake all the way through, but they’ll stay on top of your pie where they belong! If you’re making a pie with a thicker filling, like apple or pecan, go ahead and place your cut-outs on before baking.
And here are a few more beautiful pie crusts from around the web for more inspiration!
This pie was made by rolling out a top-crust and cutting out a doily-type pattern into it. A lovely way to dress up a traditionally open-faced pie!
Leafy Crust “Cookies”
Leaf “cookies” are made by rolling out some extra pie crust, brushing them with some butter and sprinkling with cinnamon sugar, and baking until golden brown. The leaves are placed on the pie atop dollops of whipped cream for a festive finish!
A crust flower is made by cutting out tapered strips of dough and layering them around a circle cut-out. Make the strips several different lengths to add dimension!
Rainbow Crimped Crust
This simple but beautiful crust is made by crimping the crust edges with the side of a pastry cutter wheel. I love the delicate, scalloped look of this one!
Floral Swirl Crust
If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can attempt something like this! These flowers were made using long strips for the stems, with leaves and flowers layered on top. This would take some time, but it would definitely be a showstopper at any gathering!
Thank you Britta!
If you now feel inspired (like I do!) to try making your own beautiful pies…here is a link to my most recent blog post for the Blendtec blog: How To “Grind” Your Own GF Flour + Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie, which includes the recipe for my Mom’s Pumpkin Pie Filling – which I personally think is the BEST! (But I might be a little prejudiced.) The pie crust isn’t nearly as pretty as Britta’s, but gluten-free dough is a pain! :-)