Holiday Pies 101
Making a pie is a lot of work, so it’s especially disappointing when the crust is tough rather than flaky. And a filling that doesn’t set up or turns out too starchy is just as unwelcome. Luckily, the test kitchen knows how to bake a great pie. We have recipes for all the holiday classics—and several regional favorites, too.
Rolling and Fitting Pie Dough
Here's the test kitchen's method for easily rolling and fitting pie dough.
Lay the disk of dough on a lightly floured counter and roll the dough outward from its center into a 12-inch circle. Between every few rolls, give the dough a quarter turn to help keep the circle nice and round.
Toss additional flour underneath the dough as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.
Loosely roll the dough around the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the pie plate.
Lift the dough and gently press it into the pie plate, letting the excess hang over the plate. For for double-crust pie, cover the crust lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Crimping Pie Dough for a Single Pie Crust
Here's the test kitchen's method for easily crimping pie dough for a single pie crust.
1. CUT OVERHANG
Use scissors to trim the overhanging dough to a uniform 1/2 inch.
2. TUCK DOUGH
Tuck the dough under to form a thick, even, stable edge on the lip of the pie plate.
3A. FOR A FLUTED EDGE
Pinch the dough into ridges around the rim between the index finger of one hand and the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Work your way around the perimeter of the pie, using gentle downward pressure to help the crust adhere to the lip of the pie plate
3B. FOR A RIDGED EDGE
Press the tines of a fork into the dough to flatten it against the rim of a pie plate.
Making a Double-Crust Pie
Here's the test kitchen's method for easily making a double-crust pie.
After rolling out the top crust, loosely roll it around the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the filled pie crust bottom.
Using scissors, trim all but ½ inch of the dough overhanging the edge of the pie plate.
Press the top and bottom crusts together, then tuck the edges underneath.
Crimp the dough evenly around the edge of the pie, using your fingers. Cut vent holes attractively in the center of the top crust with a paring knife (drier pies only require 4 vents, while very juicy pies require 8 vents).
How to Make a Lattice-Top Pie
Here's the test kitchen's method for easily making a lattice-top pie.
1. CUT AND FREEZE THE LATTICE STRIPS
After rolling out and trimming the second piece of dough into a 13 by 10-inch rectangle, cut the dough into eight 13-inch-long, 11/4-inch-wide strips. Separate them slightly and freeze them on a baking sheet until very firm, about 30 minutes. Freezing the lattice strips makes it much easier to weave the strips together without tears or breaks. It also helps the lattice maitain its shape during baking.
2. WEAVE THE FIRST LATTICE STRIPS
Using the chilled strips of lattice, lay 4 parallel strips evenly over the filling. Weave a fifth strip in the opposite direction, lifting the strips as needed to facilitate weaving.
3. WEAVE THE REMAINING LATTICE STRIPS
Continue to weave in the remaining 3 strips, one at a time, to create a lattice. Rotate the pie as needed to make it easier. If the dough becomes too soft to work with (especially on hot days), refrigerate the pie and the dough strips until the dough firms up.
4. TRIM THE DOUGH
After letting the strips thaw and soften for a few minutes, trim the overhanging edges of the dough to 1/2 inch. Letting the dough soften for a few minutes before trimming makes it more malleable and prevents it from cracking as you trim.
5. TUCK THE ENDS UNDER
Press the edges of the bottom crust and lattice strips together and fold underneath. Tucking the trimmed dough under helps to seal the ends of the strips and makes an even, tidy edge that is easy to crimp.
6. CRIMP THE EDGE
Crimp the dough evenly around the edges of the pie using your fingers. Crimping the dough gives the pie a decorative edge and an attractive, finished look.
Three Common Pie Dough Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
The thousands of pies we've baked over the years in the test kitchen have taught us a thing or three about what can go wrong when rolling the dough. Here are the three most common problems—and instructions for avoiding them.
UNEVEN, ASYMMETRICAL PIE "ROUND"
CAUSE: Poor rolling technique, or dough too cold to roll
SOLUTION: Roll, rotate, repeat and let the dough warm up if necessary
CAUSE: Manhandling en route
SOLUTION: Use rolling pin to transfer dough to pie plate
SHRUNKEN BAKED SHELL
CAUSE: Stretched or insufficiently chilled dough
SOLUTION: Support dough when fitting, and chill before baking