Perfect Pie Dough 101 — Lattice Pie Crust

 

With very few ingredients you can make one of America’s most beloved desserts, the pie. We start with the crust, the frame which holds the filling, in this case, white peach and raspberry. It should be tender and flaky, buttery and a lovely compliment to whatever you have put inside. I am forever hunting for what I consider the perfect pie crust. There are as many recipes as there are households. Every family seems to have their own prized recipe. If you are having a tough time recreating your grandmother’s crust, it may not be the fault of the recipe, but the technique you are using. Try following my instructions on how to make this dough, with a lattice pie crust. I got the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s latest tome Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Perfect Pie Dough 101

Find all the equipment I use here.

Hint before you get started, everything should be as cold as possible. On a really hot summer day I will even freeze my flour before I get started so that it doesn’t melt the butter as I’m mixing. At any point in the process if your butter seems too soft just throw the whole thing in the freezer for a few minutes.

“Good for almost everything pie dough” from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For a 9-inch double-crust:

3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (you can replace 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour)

1/4 cup (50g) sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 sticks (283g) very cold (frozen is good) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces (*if you are using Kerrygold or other European or European-style butter, you don’t need the extra vegatable shortening. See my Apple Galette IGTV video for more explanation.) 

*1/3 cup (63g) frozen vegetable shortening cut into tablespoon-sized pieces

About 1/2 cup ice water – have more on the ready just in case

Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

Sugar for sprinkling

 

To make the dough, see my Pie Dough 101 Video on Instagram

Equipment (see bottom of post for my recommendations):

Cuisinart 7-Cup Food ProcessorMarble Rolling PinPastry Wheel used to trim the lattice strips

Pastry Brush

The following directions are mine and Dorie may or may not agree with me! 

There are many ways to cut the butter and shortening into the flour, but I prefer to use a combination of my Cuisinart and my hands. The Cuisinart breaks up the fat quickly, so there is less time for it to get warm.

Put the butter in the machine in 3 parts and pulse 2-3 times. By the time you’ve added all of the butter, some of it will completely blend into the flour and some will be in large pea-sized pieces.

Add the ice water to the dough 3 tablespoons at a time and pulse just once to combine. If you pulse too much at this point you will continue to break down the butter too much.

blueberry pie | ZoeBakes

Once you’ve added all of the water pour the dough out onto the counter, or into a large flat bowl. It may still need some water, so I like to do the rest by hand so that I don’t end up breaking down the butter too much.

First try pressing the dough together to determine if it is too dry. If it isn’t holding together, or there is still powdery flour then add a couple more tablespoons of water and try pressing together again.

The dough should come together without falling apart, but not be too mushy with water.

Press into a log and cut into 2 pieces.

Form the dough into disks and wrap well with plastic. See the whole pieces of butter in the dough, this is what you want to create the flakiness. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Once the dough is chilled sprinkle flour onto your counter.

      

Roll the dough out from the center, adding a little flour and turning the dough a 1/4 turn to make sure it isn’t sticking too much to the surface. If you use a rollpat or vinyl you will end up using less flour.

Make sure the dough will fit the pan you are using. There should be about 2 extra inches around the pie plate.

Use your rolling pin to transfer the dough to the pie plate. Put the rolling pin in the middle of the dough and fold the dough over the pin to lift it.

Place the dough in the pie plate, don’t force or stretch it or it will shrink away from the sides as it bakes. Put the pie plate with dough into the refrigerator to rest while you make the lattice.

Roll the next disk of dough out just as you did the first one, but this time you need to build it on a sheet of vinyl or a rollpat so it can be lifted. Now you will use a pastry wheel to cut strips in the dough. Depending on your personality you can measure the strips or eyeball them. When you are finished cutting the strips remove every other one and set aside.

See my Lattice Pie Video on Instagram.

Fold up every other one of the remaining strips to the middle point. Lay one of the pieces that you had set aside over the strips that are laying flat. Unfold the strips and repeat with the next set.

Continue until you get to the end of this side and then start this on the other side.

Once the lattice is prepared slide the vinyl or rollpat onto a cutting board or baking sheet so that you can easily transfer to the refrigerator. You need to let this chill so that it is easier to slide onto the filled pie.

Once the lattice is chilled it will slide easily onto the pie shell filled with fruit. Then you will need to trim the excess length off of the lattice strips.

They should fit just over the filling.

Fold up the sides of the pie shell and then crimp them in whatever design you choose.

Brush the surface of the lattice, but not the edge of the pie shell, with egg wash.

Sprinkle with sugar, I then stick the pie into the freezer for about 15 minutes while the oven is preheating to 425. Freezing the dough will help to set the dough so that it won’t blow out your design when it goes in the oven. The length of time to bake your pie will be determined by the filling. My peach-raspberry pie took about an hour.



Lattice Pie Crust
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 
Hint: before you get started, everything should be as cold as possible. On a really hot summer day I will even freeze my flour before I get started so that it doesn't melt the butter as I'm mixing. At any point in the process if your butter seems too soft just throw the whole thing in the freezer for a few minutes.
Ingredients
  • For a 9-inch double crust:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2½ sticks (10 ounces) very cold (frozen is good) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
  • ⅓ cup frozen vegetable shortening cut into tablespoon sized pieces
  • About ½ cup ice water - have more on the ready just in case
  • egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
  • sugar for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. There are many ways to cut the butter and shortening into the flour, but I prefer to use a combination of my Cuisinart and my hands. The Cuisinart breaks up the fat quickly, so there is less time for it to get warm. Put the butter in the machine in 3 parts and pulse 2-3 times. By the time you've added all of the butter, some of it will completely blended into the flour and some will be in large pea sized pieces. Add the ice water to the dough 3 tablespoons at a time and pulse just once to combine. If you pulse too much at this point you will continue to break down the butter too much.
  2. Once you've added all of the water pour the dough out onto the counter, or into a large flat bowl (pasta serving bowl works well). It may still need some water, so I like to do the rest by hand so that I don't break down the butter too much.
  3. First try pressing the dough together to determine if it is too dry. If it isn't holding together, or there is still powdery flour then add a couple more tablespoons of water and try pressing together again. The dough should come together without falling apart, but not be too mushy with water.
  4. Press into a log and cut into 2 pieces. Form the dough into disks and wrap well with plastic. See the whole pieces of butter in the dough, this is what you want to create the flakiness. Chill for at least 2 hours.
  5. Once the dough is chilled sprinkle flour onto your counter, a rollpat or a piece of heavy gauge vinyl. Roll the dough out from the center, adding a little flour and turning the dough a ¼ turn to make sure it isn't sticking too much to the surface. If you use a rollpat or vinyl you will use less flour.
  6. Make sure the dough will fit the pan you are using. There should be about 2 extra inches around the pie plate. Use your rolling pin to transfer the dough to the pie plate. Put the rolling pin in the middle of the dough and fold the dough over the pin to lift it.
  7. Place the dough in the pie plate, don't force or stretch it or it will shrink away from the sides as it bakes. Put the pie plate with dough into the refrigerator to rest while you make the lattice.
  8. Roll the next disk of dough out just as you did the first one, but this time you need to build it on a sheet of vinyl or a rollpat so it can be lifted. Now you will use a pastry wheel to cut strips in the dough. Depending on your personality you can measure the strips or eyeball them. When you are finished cutting the strips remove every other one and set aside.
  9. Fold up every other one of the remaining strips to the middle point. Lay one of the pieces that you had set aside over the strips that are laying flat. Unfold the strips and repeat with the next set. Continue until you get to the end of this side and then start this on the other side.
  10. Once the lattice is prepared slide the vinyl or rollpat onto a cutting board or baking sheet so that you can easily transfer to the refrigerator. You need to let this chill so that it is easier to slide onto the filled pie.
  11. Once the lattice is chilled it will slide easily onto the pie shell filled with fruit. Then you will need to trim the excess length off of the lattice strips. They should fit just over the filling. Fold up the sides of the pie shell and then crimp them in whatever design you choose.
  12. Brush the surface of the lattice, but not the edge of the pie shell, with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar, I then stick the pie into the freezer for about 15 minutes while the oven is preheating to 425 F. Freezing the dough will help to set the dough so that it won't blow out your design when it goes in the oven. The length of time to bake your pie will be determined by the filling. My peach-raspberry pie took about an hour.

 

33 thoughts to “Perfect Pie Dough 101 — Lattice Pie Crust”

  1. Hi Zoe. It’s nice to know that it’s not only we amateur bakers who are on a constant quest for perfect pie crust! I recently bought Dorie Greenspan’s book, so am anxious to try her recipe and your technique. One question — I notice you use a marble rolling pin. A while back I thought about buying one, but the extra weight made me think twice. If you have a second, could you share your opinion on the comparison between wood and marble? Thanks!

  2. Hi Emilie,

    I have all kinds of rolling pins and I use them for different purposes. I love my marble pin when I am dealing with a dough with lots of chilled butter. The marble tends to stay cool and therefore helps to keep your butter from melting. I like the heaviness of the pin as well. It helps to do the work of rolling out a stiff dough. I find my wooden French pin requires too much brute force and ends up irritating my hands. Everyone will have their favorites and they are all great, just use the one that seems to fit you best.

    Hope that helps?

    Thanks, Zoë

    ps my French pin is my favorite for tart dough.

  3. Hi Zoe. I’ve tried to make lattice tops and they’ve only ever worked in Scotland, where my kitchen was cold enough. In New York, I only ever have enough time to lay the strips on top of one another–if I try to weave them, they quickly become too warm to work with. Any tips?

  4. Great step-by-step instructions. I’ve strived to make many pie crusts like my mom. I’ve tried using a food processor before but I think the butter was almost too cold! I ended up having to add more water to get the crust to come together and the end do puffed up and spilled over the side of my pie plate while cooking. I’ve always found using my hand, even just a little bit before I add the water, adds just enough heat to soften the butter, allowing everything to come together without needing to add too much water. It gets a little messy, but I think it’s worth it. Also, when rolling out, lay down two pieces of saran wrap and move a third around on top while you roll. It’s another way to save a lot of mess!

  5. Yes, that’s very helpful, Zoe. I tried the French pin a while back and couldn’t really get the hang of it–I guess because I’m so used to holding handles after all these years. But I think I will definitely will give the marble one a try now. Thanks again!

  6. Hi Michele,

    I think the trick might be to build the lattice on something that you can easily get in and out of the refrigerator. If you feel that the strips are getting too warm, just pop the whole thing in the fridge for a few minutes and then come back to it when it chills up. I know this sounds laborious, but pie dough is very sensitive to heat.

    If you happen to have a flat piece of marble or stone, you might try chilling that in the fridge for a couple of hours and working the dough on that. Anything that will stay cool will help!

    Good luck and let me know how it goes.

    Zoë

  7. Hi Bronwyn,

    I too find that trying to make the whole recipe in the food processor has me adding too much water in the end. That is why I tend to dump it out and finish adding the water by hand. I also just like to feel the dough.

    The vinyl sheet acts just like the saran wrap, but I can use it over and over again. Next time I will do it with two sheets of vinyl, just as you described.

    Thanks! Zoë

  8. Your lattice is beautiful!! I have yet to make a lattice top, because I know I’d mess it up somehow, if not being eye boggled trying to figure the strips out, or the oven would probably brown it too fast (pie crusts + ovens are not always my friend). One day I’ll have to defeat it.

  9. Absolutely flawless pie crust tutorial. And your crust looks amazing! It’s perfectly dotted with cold butter. LOVE! Thank you so much for sharing this. The internet is now officially a better place!

  10. Hi Rachelle,

    One thing to consider is to start out with much wider strips than I used in this post. That way there are fewer to keep track of. You can do it!

    Zoë

  11. Your lattice looks perfect! Santa left a pastry wheel in my stocking a couple Christmas’ ago, and I still have not put it to good use. I think I just need to get over my fear of messing up! Thanks for sharing all the photos with the instructions.

  12. Thanks Andrea,

    Once you pick up that pastry wheel you will never put it down. I use it when I am working with danish dough and to cut out the beignets from the brioche dough.

    Give it a whirl, you’ll love it.

    Zoë

  13. Hi Maybelles mom,

    This is a great idea. I hope that Rachelle from above reads your note and tries making mini pies. That is a perfect way to give lattice tops a try.

    Thanks for the idea. Zoë

  14. First — oh my gosh you have a site! 🙂 I just bought your book (Artisan Bread in 5) and am beyond excited to start trying it out! Now I can come here and get even more brilliant tips from you…like this pie dough tutorial! YAY!

  15. I do a similar method for lattice tops, but rather than constructing them on a board/counter, I do it right on the pie. If you are quick, you can do the same ‘fold every other strip back’ trick, no added refrigeration needed, and the rows come out much neater/more uniform.

  16. Hi Zoe – great info re pie crusts! I’ve been afraid to make my own.

    One follow up about the rolling pin – I seem to have read somewhere that it helps to chill the marble rolling pin, too. Do you do that?

  17. Hi Kristen,

    Great question.

    I have, but the problem can be that the pin will sweat if the room is really warm and humid. It is best just to keep the pin stored in a cool place, like the basement or a low drawer, where it won’t get so warm.

    Thanks, Zoë

  18. Hi Zoe,

    With a lattice top crust you always have to bake the filling with the crust. If you are doing just a bottom crust you can blind bake it first, if your filling is particularly wet and you want to crisp up the crust slightly.

    Thanks, Zoë

  19. whats your technique for baking blind so that the crust does not shrink? Also would you use freshly rendered lard instead of shortening?

  20. Hi Zoe,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe…it is absolutely the best!!! My pies have never turned out so well – always flaky and delicious (no more soggy bottom pies). “Thank you” 🙂

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