A slice of pie with a perfectly flaky and buttery crust and a warm berry filling (and a scoop of ice cream) can be many people’s favorite way to end a meal. Whether served as a sweet dessert or a savory main dish, adding a homemade pie to your menu makes everyone feel warm and cozy. To really make an impressive display, a decorative piecrust takes your presentation from standard to standout. Start with our Test Kitchen’s expert tips on how to flute a piecrust, then move on to other easy designs. As a bonus, most of these will require nothing more than your hands or ordinary kitchen tools.
Easy Ways to Make Decorative Piecrust Edges
These piecrust edges will work for recipes calling for a single-crust pastry. If you’re making a fancy piecrust, such as a braid, circle, or leaf shape, make an extra half batch of dough for the cutouts—you don’t want to run out mid-decoration. For covered pies and lattice piecrusts, you’ll use a double-crust recipe. Once you roll out the crust, trim the pastry to ½ inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. After trimming, use your fingers to fold the pastry under, so that it’s even with the edge of the pie plate. From there, proceed to one of the following edges.
Pies with a generous amount of filling—which is most pies, really—will benefit from the classic fluted edge. Here’s how to flute:
- Place an index finger against the inside edge of the pastry.
- Using the thumb and index finger of the other hand, press the pastry from the outside onto your finger.
- Continue around the rest of the pastry’s edge.
Pressed Flute Edge
For a slight variation on the fluted edge, follow the above steps but make the flutes a tiny bit larger, then flatten them slightly. Press the inside flutes with the tines of a fork. This edge works well on pies like berry fruit or chocolate pecan.
For a decorative pie edge, save your pastry scraps and use them to make cutouts. Here’s how:
- Roll out the pastry scraps until the dough is very thin.
- Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut the dough into tiny squares. You can also use a mini cookie cutter to create small circles or other desired shapes.
- Flatten the edges of the pastry shell slightly and brush them with water.
- Arrange the cutouts on the edge of the pastry shell and press lightly so they adhere.
The crisscross edge is one of the easiest edges to make and works well for both single- and double-crust pie recipes. Here’s how to do it:
- Flatten the edges slightly.
- Hold a fork at a slight angle to the edge of the pie.
- Lightly press the tines into the pastry.
- Continue around the pie, switching angles at every other pressing.
For a variation on the crisscross edge, hold the fork perpendicular to the edge of the pie instead of at an angle when pressing the tines into the pastry. This simple edge works nicely with nut pies like pumpkin-pecan.
The scalloped edge is ideal for an old-fashioned double-crust fruit pie or a single-crust custard pie. Here’s how to make it:
- Follow the steps above for a fluted-edge pastry, but make the flutes a bit larger than you would for a simple fluted edge.
- Press the bowl of a spoon lightly into the center of each flute.
Tabbed-Edge or Weave Piecrust
A tabbed edge is an easy way to give a professional-looking finish to pies. Use kitchen shears to snip ½-inch slits into the pastry about a ½-inch apart along the edge. For the woven edge, press every other tab in the opposite direction.
The rope edge is a variation on the traditional fluted edge and gives a down-home, country-style look to any double-crust fruit pie. Here’s how to make it:
- Crimp around the edge of the pastry by pinching it.
- When pinching, push forward on a slant with a bent finger and pull back with your thumb.
Braided Piecrust Edge
For a polished finish to your edge, try using the braided technique. If you want to use this method, you’ll definitely want to have at least an extra half recipe of pie dough in order to cover the whole pie. Here’s how to do it:
- Cut the rolled-out pastry into long narrow strips.
- Lay three strips next to each other and braid.
- After first brushingthe edge of the pie shell with water, press the braided strip onto the edge, gently pressing to adhere.
For a decorative touch that’s perfect for fall or Thanksgiving pies, create a leaf-edged piecrust. Here’s how:
- Roll out the pastry scraps until the dough is very thin.
- Use a leaf-shaped cookie cutter to cut out several leaves.
- Press the leaves onto the edge of the pastry shell, overlapping them slightly and pressing lightly to adhere.
Tips for a Perfect Piecrust
In addition to creating decorative edges, here are some general tips to help you achieve a perfect piecrust:
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- Keep the dough cold: Cold dough is easier to work with and ensures a flaky crust. Chill your dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.
- Use a light touch: When rolling out the dough, use gentle pressure to prevent it from becoming tough.
- Roll from the center out: Start rolling from the center of the dough and work your way out in all directions. This helps to create an even thickness and shape.
- Don’t stretch the dough: When transferring the dough to the pie plate, avoid stretching it. This can lead to shrinkage during baking.
- Vent the crust: For pies with a double crust, make sure to cut slits or create decorative vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
- Brush with an egg wash: For a golden and glossy crust, brush the top of the pie with an egg wash (a beaten egg mixed with a little water) before baking.
- Protect the edges: If the edges of your piecrust are browning too quickly during baking, you can cover them with strips of aluminum foil to prevent burning while the rest of the pie bakes.
- Cool completely before serving: Allow the pie to cool completely before cutting into it. This helps the filling set and ensures neater slices.
With these tips and decorative edge techniques, you’ll be able to create a beautiful and professional-looking piecrust that will impress your family and friends. Enjoy your delicious homemade pies!