Pie Crust Designs

Inspiring pie crust designs on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Welcome back to the Monthly Baking Challenge! And day 3 in Pie Week. So far this week:

November’s baking challenge is pie. I mean… were you really surprised?! But instead of a specific pie recipe, I’m challenging you to get a little creative: decorate a pie, any pie, with fun and festive pie crust designs. Terrified of pie crust? Good. This is the time to face your fear. You CAN do this. You CAN create pies like this.

Inspiring pie crust designs on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I love making pie. You know this. But up until a few years ago, it terrified me. Obviously a piece of pie didn’t give me the creeps, but the actual *thought of making pie* definitely scared me to pieces. Far too complicated. Let’s leave it to the pros. But guess what? The hardest part is finding the courage to start. And once you do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t begin sooner. Nothing is more satisfying than making a pie completely from scratch. Until, of course, you eat a slice.

Pie crust tools on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Before I show you my own pie crust designs and walk you through some simple techniques, here are 5 tips that will help you pick up that rolling pin.

5 Tips for Pie-fection

1. The hardest part is finding the courage to start.
Like I mentioned above, the hardest part about working with homemade pie dough is actually mustering up the courage to work with homemade pie dough. Starting is, without a doubt, the biggest hurdle. It’s easy to resist something if it intimidates you, but something (anything!) has to start somewhere, right? Such is the case with nearly any goal or dream we have. I didn’t wake up one day and have confidence with pie dough, lattice toppings, and artful crust designs. You’ll practice, it will feel daunting, you’ll improve, you’ll succeed.

2. Use a quality pie crust.
You’re ready to begin making pies from scratch, so don’t sabotage your efforts with a lackluster pie crust. Pie crust is essentially 3 things: flour, fat, liquid. It’s the types of each and the ratios that make a real difference. My beloved pie crust is the only one I use when I make pie. I mix both butter and shortening together for the best flavor and texture. Don’t add too much water or your dough will be flimsy and fragile. Not enough water and your dough will crack and crumble when rolled out. I break down the entire recipe and include tons of tips/tricks/pictures in this super thorough pie crust blog post.

3. Keep everything COLD.
Now that you have a solid pie crust recipe, let’s… um, keep things solid! Keeping your pie dough as cold as possible is imperative because it helps prevent the fat from melting. If the butter melts inside the dough before baking, your pie crust will lose shape in the oven. The sides will shrink down and, even worse, the crust will taste greasy instead of tender and flaky. Basically any design you arranged on top of the pie will shrivel up. Remember this: the colder the pie is before going into the oven, the better your pie will taste and the more your pie crust will hold its shape.

4. Use an egg wash. And some sparkle!
Do you know why we use an egg wash? It’s to help develop a golden brown crust. Without it, the pie crust will brown but will look extremely dull. An egg wash, a mix of milk and egg, creates that golden sheen we see on bakery pies AND it even gives the crust a little extra crisp flavor. For a little sparkle, I always sprinkle pies with coarse sugar prior to baking. Gives the top a lovely crunch and looks pretty, too.

5. Take your time and have fun.
Always take your time when working with pie dough. It’s not a race! Treat the dough with a little TLC. You are not angry at the pie dough. Don’t roll it out too forcefully or rush through a decorative topping. Set aside enough time in the day to really concentrate on it, invite some friends or family in the kitchen, and enjoy the process. If it feels like a chore, this might not be the best monthly baking challenge for you. But I promise it’s worth it!

Buttery flaky pie crust recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

That’s beloved pie crust! ↑ ↑ It’s my one and only.

Did You Know?

See all those chunks of butter in the dough? That’s a very good thing. I’ve had readers ask if the butter should be completely mixed in. No no no! You see, as the crust bakes, the butter’s water converts to steam. And steam creates flakes in the dough. If the butter is over-mixed in the dough, you won’t have as many steam pockets. And, therefore, not as much delicious flakiness.

So visible butter in dough = flakiness. Yum.

My pie crust recipe is enough dough for 2 pie crusts. It’s plenty for a bottom crust (essential, of course) and a decorative crust on top. Most of my decoration skills revolve around a lattice top, which is the typical woven pie topping you see. I admit it looks pretty intimidating, but it’s surprisingly simple if you use a quality pie crust and take your time.

Inspiring pie crust designs on sallysbakingaddiction.com

See more pie crust designs below this lattice tutorial.

How to Create a Lattice

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Roll out the bottom crust: On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough (keep the other one in the refrigerator). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. Spoon the filling into the crust and place in the refrigerator while you work on the lattice.
  2. On a floured work surface, roll out the second half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Pie dough is easiest to work with when it's cold, so if the dough has softened too much as you work-- place any rolled-out pieces on a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for a couple minutes.
  3. Design the lattice: Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into strips-- the width is up to you. I usually cut them 1/2-inch - 1-inch wide for a traditional lattice top. Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Lay out 6-8 parallel strips of pie dough (depending how thick you cut them) on top of the filling with about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch space between them. Fold back every other strip, then place another strip perpendicular to the strips. Unfold the folded strips over the perpendicular strip. This is the start of your woven lattice.
  4. Fold the parallel strips that are underneath the perpendicular strip back over the perpendicular strip. Place a 2nd perpendicular strip down. Unfold the parallel strips over the 2nd strip. Continue this process, weaving the strips over and under. This video is super helpful.
  5. Trim the edges of the strips around the pie dish, leaving about 1/2 inch over the sides. Crimp the edges to secure the strips with the bottom pie crust.
  6. The next step is written out in all of my pie recipes, but here it is to remind you. Brush the unbaked pie (the crust) with an egg wash, sprinkle with coarse sugar, and chill in the refrigerator as the oven preheats. Remember, keep everything cold prior to baking. Have fun!

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

This month, put your personalized touch on pie crust and make it stand out on the Thanksgiving table. Let your imagination run wild and create some edible art. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be beautiful. As long as you try it.

Here’s some more pie inspiration for you!

Inspiring pie crust designs on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Above: I created a simple lattice with 1-inch strips of dough and added two strips of braids on the edges. Braids are three 1/4-inch strips of dough. Here’s a video tutorial for more braid inspiration. I also added some acorns on top using a cookie cutter.

Inspiring pie crust designs on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Above: Also a lattice top, though I used 1-inch strips. I cut 4 of the 1-inch strips in half to create those thinner strips.

Inspiring pie crust designs on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Above: This is my cranberry almond apple pie. A lattice top created with 1/2-inch strips grouped into three’s. I also added leaf cut-outs all over the top.

Inspiring pie crust designs on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Above: This is my apple cranberry pie. It’s a lattice top with a braided edge and two apple cut-outs. The lattice strips have a pretty ruffle edge. I cut 18 1/2-inch strips with a fondant ribbon cutter. For the braid: with a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut six 14 inch long, 1/4-inch wide strips. Gently braid three strips. Brush edge of crust with egg wash, the carefully place braid around half of the pie and press lightly to secure. Repeat with remaining strips, then attach the two braids by pressing one into the other. Here’s a video tutorial for more braid inspiration.

Inspiring pie crust designs on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Above: This is my homemade cherry pie. Another lattice top using four strips 2-inches wide and four strips 1-inch wide.

Inspiring pie crust designs on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Above: This is my cherry pie with toasted almonds. The 1.5-inch strips in this lattice top are cut with a pastry wheel.

Below: This is my American flag pie. I included a video in that post for how I created the flag topping.

American flag pie on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Deep dish apple pie on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Above: This is my deep dish apple pie. I simply covered the pie with pie crust and used any extra dough (from trimming) to make a few apple shapes.

Below: This is my great pumpkin pie recipe. Nothing complicated here! See the notes in the recipe for how to make and add the shapes to the baked pie.

The great pumpkin pie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

If you’re not into pie crust designs, here is the alternate November Baking Challenge:

After you make the baking challenge recipe or alternative, share your photos throughout this month using #sallysbakingchallenge on Instagram or email me, tweet me, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group.

You can do this! I’m cheering for you.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make these decorated pies.

Pizza Cutter | Coarse Sparkling Sugar | Autumn Cookie CuttersMore Fall Cookie Cutters | Pastry Blender | Rolling Pin | Scalloped Glass Pie Dish | Pie Crust Protector | Silicone Pie Crust Protector | Pastry Brush

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.
 How to create beautiful pie crust designs! Plenty of inspiring pies you can make at home on sallysbakingaddiction.com

41 Comments

Comments

  1. Natalie on November 1, 2017 at 12:36 am

    Love this post, Sally! All of the designs are so unique!

  2. Kim on November 1, 2017 at 12:42 am

    Gorgeous pies! I can’t wait to start creating! ❤️

  3. Miriam on November 1, 2017 at 4:56 am

    I usually like simple, no-fuss recipes, so my first reaction to this challenge was, “Oh, no! Skip it.” But tip #5, to take your time and have fun, convinced me to try to turn this challenge into a date night. Challenges are always easier with a partner. Thanks for the idea, Sally!

    • Victoria Starkey on November 1, 2017 at 9:50 am

      What a smart idea to make it a date night, I love that!

  4. Amy on November 1, 2017 at 6:40 am

    I do love making pies-hubby would rather have pie instead of cake for his birthday. I had a favorite recipe but it uses a food processor. Since I couldn’t bring mine and am not going to buying one. Your pie crust recipe looks great! Looks like I will be making pie in France!

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:25 am

      I much prefer making pie crust by hand with a pastry blender. You get a much better feel for the dough and the fat isn’t incorporated as much, which is a great thing.

  5. Rashmi Asharam on November 1, 2017 at 6:43 am

    This looks amazing Sally, you make it looks so easy 🙂
    I really want to try make your pie crust for this months baking challenge.
    I just have a few questions please, I am based in South Africa and I don’t know what all purpose flour is, can cake flour be substituted because we don’t have all purpose flour here, also we don’t get shortening here either, could I leave it out?

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:24 am

      Hi Rashmi! Do not use cake flour– unfortunately, all-purpose is the only option. As for the shortening– it’s also a must in my pie crust recipe. I would find an all butter pie crust you love instead. I love this all butter pie crust recipe, but it makes 3 crusts instead of 2.

    • bsgaston on November 4, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      Rashmi…do you have lard? It makes a beautiful crust using same measurements as for shortening.

  6. Patricia @Sweet and Strong on November 1, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Oh I’m so excited for this!  I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year and my mom is coming and we’re going to make her apple pie the night before.  We’ll totally have to come up with a fun design!  

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:23 am

      Have so much fun!

  7. Tanvi Vaidya on November 1, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Hi Sally! These designs look amazing! Can’t wait to try ’em out. One question : can I completely replace the shortening with butter? It isn’t available where I live. Thanks! Just received your third book. Wow! Will be trying out those recipes too, soon. Thanks

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:22 am

      Hi Tanvi! It wouldn’t be a 1:1 switch. I would find an all butter pie crust you love. I love this all butter pie crust recipe, but it makes 3 crusts instead of 2.

  8. Theresa on November 1, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Such beautiful designs! I’ve never made a pie before, so I look forward to making my first! Thanks Sally!

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:21 am

      Let me know how it goes! You can totally do it.

  9. Melissa on November 1, 2017 at 8:33 am

    I am going to my boyfriend’s house for Thanksgiving this year and I really want to wow them with a pie! So this is perfect!! I was wondering — how do you make your egg wash? Is it just eggs? Eggs and water? Eggs and milk? I’ve read a lot of different suggestions and I was curious what you recommend!

    Thanks!

    • Sally on November 1, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Melissa! The egg wash is included in most of my pie recipes. It’s an egg with 1 Tbsp milk. (Though heavy cream, buttermilk, or even water work.) This is what I always use and recommend.

  10. Sue on November 1, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Like you, I love to make pies. Following is a tip I use in the hot weather. I place a bag of ice cubes on my counter for 10 minutes before I roll out my dough. The cold counter allows my dough to roll easily without sticking.

    • Laura B. on November 1, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Cool tip, I’m gonna have to try this!

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:20 am

      This is so helpful, thanks for sharing Sue!

  11. nancy k on November 1, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Such lovely, creative designs. I will be attempting a couple for my Thanksgiving contribution to 
    dinner.
    Also, I love a bargain so I wanted to post that  the King Arthur Flour site offers a 15oz container of white sparkling sugar for $6.95 compared to the Wilton’s sugar 8oz container for $5.95. KAF has lots for random free shipping offerings so I often wait for those to order what I need to stock up on.

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:20 am

      Thank you so much for sharing!! I need to order from KAF more often.

  12. Diana on November 1, 2017 at 9:21 am

    I am really not a fan of fruity pies b/c I dont like mushy baked fruits. But…i love how the posts are so scientific and explain the whys of baking. Maybe I’ll give this a whirl for the husband who misses his Grandma’s apple pie.

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:19 am

      Thanks so much Diana!

  13. Laura B. on November 1, 2017 at 9:40 am

    As a seasoned pie baker, homemade crust STILL scares me, ha! But it’s SO much better than pre-made. I always make a little more than necessary just to make SURE it’s enough, then with the extra I make little hand pies filled with jam (my grandma used to do it, she calls them jelly pigs!)

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:19 am

      Jelly pigs!! I love that.

  14. Diana on November 1, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I have to admit I am getting slightly less intimidated with pie dough! This will be a challenge though!!!! Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone!!!!

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:18 am

      You can do it!

  15. Cindy on November 1, 2017 at 10:46 am

    I just ordered some cookie cutters to use for my pie crust top challenge! I do have a question though – in the past, when I’ve cut out little pumpkin or apple shapes, they tended to get overbaked. Should I wait to put them on the top of the pie until the last few minutes? Any tips?

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:18 am

      That can happen. You can definitely wait to stick on later during the bake time.

  16. Cindy Smith on November 1, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I love all homemade pies. It’s hard to pick a favorite!

  17. Lisa on November 1, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    So my problem with crust is twofold – rolling it out — and then getting it off the counter. I always flour my counter (and the rolling pin), but invariably it sticks. And laughs at me, mocking, “Ha – you think you can make dough? I’ll show you!” I’ve taken to rolling out a {cough} premade dough (thank you Pillsbury) between two sheets of plastic wrap, when I get it to the shape and thickness, I remove the top sheet of plastic and use the plastic to tip over the dough into a half moon shape, then a quarter and I transfer it to the pie plate — no extra flour and I don’t physically touch the dough until fitting it into the plate… I know it’s cheating… but…

    How thick do you want dough, btw?

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:17 am

      Hey, whatever works! For the thickness, I’d say between 1/8 and 1/4-inch.

  18. Paige Flamm on November 1, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    These are all so pretty!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:16 am

      Thanks Paige!

  19. Lindsay Boyer on November 1, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Hey Sally! I am planning on making one of your pies for Thanksgiving this year (thinking your cranberry and apple one – yum!) but am having one issue: the egg wash. I know it’s really important for the pie (as depicted in this article) but my little brother has a severe egg allergy. Is there any other substitution I can make, maybe oil or water or something along those lines? Any type of milk is also out (in my family we have dairy, soy, and nut allergies!).

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:15 am

      Hey Lindsay! That’s a great question. Simply skip the egg and brush the crust with milk, heavy cream, or buttermilk instead. Works like a charm.

  20. Ann Nguyen on November 1, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    I’ve been putting off making pie crust from scratch for a while now because it definitely looked intimidating but with a few potlucks coming up this month, I’ve decided I’m going to put that fear aside and just do it! So exciting!

    • Sally on November 2, 2017 at 2:15 am

      You can never improve on something you don’t at least *start.* So happy that you’re giving homemade pie crust a go!

  21. Lynda on November 2, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Oh, Sally, homemade pie crust …… the thought just sends me into therapy!

  22. Earl Williams on November 7, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    The American Flag pie we made this past summer based on your recipe, had made us famous in the family. They couldnt taste how great the pie tasted but the overall design elevated us to high caliber bakers. Thank you Sally!

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