I love a good lattice crust. It’s one of those things that impresses the hell out of people and is so damn satisfying when you get it right. Sure, anyone can throw some streusel on a pile of fruit or even lay a flat sheet of dough on for a top crust but a perfectly woven lattice is a sight to behold. “Oooooh! You MADE that?” Hell yeah I did. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not that hard really. If you ever made those little potholders as a kid on the loom with the nylon circle doo-dads, you can do this.
A couple tips:
– Dough temperature. The dough needs to be cool but pliable. If your kitchen is hot, you can power through but may become frustrated as the dough will be too soft to cooperate. If it’s too cold, it will crack when you fold up the strips. What I find works best is to roll, cut and chill the lattice until I’m ready to fill the pie, then let it sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before starting, to give it a chance to warm up just a bit.
– Rolling the dough. Your instinct is to roll the dough into a circle before cutting. Don’t – roll it into a rectangle instead. With a circle, you’ll have long strips in the middle and short ones on the end. Too many short pieces are a pain because you usually have to smoosh them together to make a longer strip. If you roll it into a rectangle, slightly wider than the width of the pie pan, you’ll have plenty of long strips and can trim them to what you need rather than having to patch together short ones.
– Dough thickness. I roll the dough about 1/8” thick. Any thicker and they crack while weaving/folding, any thinner and they tear. Short of getting out a ruler, which is silly, keep in mind that they need to be able to fold. Use that thought as your guide.
– Strip quantity. The more strips you have, the tighter your lattice can be, i.e., the less space between each strip. This all really depends on how large your dough rectangle is to begin start. Larger rectangle = more strips.
– Strip width. This is a matter of personal preference. Thinner strips are more intricate – and more work – but look pretty cool with a tighter weave. That said, I’ve done pies with thick lattice strips that look like tartans and made beautiful pies. There are no hard and fast rules – go with what you like and are comfortable with. Use a long knife to cut the strips or better yet – a pizza cutter. If you have a fancy fluted pastry wheel, now’s the time to bust it out.
– Crimping the edges. You can make this as easy or as complicated as you wish. Easy: press the tines of a fork along the edges of the pie plate. Classic: flute or crimp the edge with your fingers. More complicated: cut out leaf or other shapes with small cookie cutters and glue to the pie crust edge with a little egg wash. I call this “the Martha Stewart treatment.”
– Egg wash. Make sure to brush the top with an egg wash for a beautiful glossy pie. You’ve done all the work, don’t skip out now. Egg wash can be as simple as one beaten egg or you can add a little dairy (cream, milk) and a pinch of sugar and salt. The additional ingredients contribute to browning and gloss and are nice if you have them on hand but not necessary. I also like to sprinkle the top with a little sugar, large coarse grain if you have it, to give a nice crunch. Plus it looks pretty.
Now to the actual weaving part. This is not difficult but takes some thought and concentration. Remember you’re weaving – up, over, under, up, over, under. It will be much easier the second, third and sixty-fourth time you do it. And remember, if you screw it up no one needs to know. If a strip tears, patch it together and move on. Make sure to give that spot a little extra egg wash and sprinkle of sugar. If it really bugs you, cut a little shape – like a leaf or small apple – out of scrap pie dough and stick it right on top. Really, no one needs to know.
1. Roll out lattice crust: Roll out top crust on a sheet of parchment to a rectangle 1/8” thick and a little wider than the widest part of the pie pan.
2. Cut strips approximately ½” wide – or as wide as desired
3. Slide the parchment sheet with the dough strips onto a sheet pan and refrigerate until needed while you make the filling.
4. Assemble: Remove the pie plate and the lattice crust from the refrigerator. Let the lattice warm up a bit – about 5 minutes while you fill the pie. The strips should be cool but pliable
5. Start with the center lattice strip of the rectangle and work to the left. (Strips to the right of center will be used for the horizontal strips.) This helps you know how many strips you have to work with and how tight you can make your lattice.
6. Lay the strips vertically across the filled pie, with the longer strips in the center positions and spacing as desired. Space between the strips will be based on how many strips you have. Fewer strips = looser lattice. More strips = tighter lattice.
7. Next fold every other strip up halfway (here’s where the cool but pliable part is important.)
8. Lay a strip lengthwise over the unfolded strips in the center of the pie. (Be sure to use the longer strips in the center, with the shorter strips as you work toward the edges.)
9. Unfold the folded strips over the lengthwise strip.
10. Then fold up the strips that were previously unfolded up and over that horizontal strip. You’re basically weaving pie dough.
11. Again, lay a dough strip lengthwise, unfold and continue this fold/lay/unfold process to the edge of the pie.
12. Turn the pie around and do the same with the other side – fold up every other strip, lay horizontally, unfold and continue.
13. Trim off excess lattice ends by lightly pressing the lattice strips to the edge of the bottom crust.
14. Trim any stray pieces of dough with kitchen scissors to clean up the edges.
15. Crimping: Use your thumb of your right hand and the thumb and index finger of your left hand to create evenly spaced fluted edges. Form your left thumb/index finger into a “v” about ¾” apart.
16. Place your thumb/index finger “v” along the inner lip of the pie plate (your left hand will be lightly resting on the pie center.)
17. Take your right thumb and push the dough edge into the “v” space between the left thumb/index finger, creating a “v” shape in the dough.
18. Continue this process around the entire crust. No worries, this takes a little practice. If your dough is warming up and your fingers are sticking, lightly dust them with flour and continue.
19. Egg wash: Brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
And there you have it. Just takes a little concentration and an understanding of the correct dough temperature and you’re good to go.