Kitchen Confidence

6 Ways to Fancy Up Your Pies

By • November 13, 2013 • 8 Comments

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: How to make fancy edges and fancy toppings -- and up your pie game this holiday season.

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My sincere love of pie has had me experimenting in the kitchen for years. I’ve eaten my share of last slices straight from the pie plate at midnight. And many, many pies later, I’ve discovered a few surprises. The truth is, there are tons of ways to take your pie up a notch, without even straying too far from the basics. Impress dinner guests (and yourself!) with these fancy pie tips and tricks. They really are as easy as...well, you know. 

Decorative Edges

decorative pies from food52

1. Rounded Crimped Edge: You’ve mastered the classic crimped edge, which makes a fluted edge with points. With this new technique, the bowl of a spoon guides the finishing of the edge, making a slightly rounded, more fluid edge.

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The larger the bowl of the spoon, the bigger the waves will be. Dip the bowl of the spoon lightly into flour and press it gently into the crust, moving outward and using your fingers to guide the outer edge. Repeat all the way around the crust.

pies from food25

2. Dotted Edge: Roll out pie dough scraps to 1/4-inch thick. Lightly flour a small circular cookie cutter (in a pinch, you can use a shot glass or even freehand it), and cut out enough circles to cover the entire edge of the pie.

pies from food5129 pies from food52

Brush the edge of the crust with water, and lay the circles around the edge, overlapping slightly. Any shape can be used, just remember to keep the dough pieces small. Pieces that are too large are more likely to become misshapen in the oven.

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3. Braided Edge: Roll out pie dough scraps to 1/4-inch thick -- it’s best to keep the piece of dough as long as possible. Cut long, thin strips (about 1/4 inch wide) using a chef’s knife or pastry wheel. Pinch three strips together at the top, and braid together.

pies from food52 pies from food52

When the pieces are almost fully braided, pinch the ends together to seal. Hold the strand at both ends and stretch gently. Repeat until you have enough braids to cover the entire outer edge of the crust. Brush the edge of the crust lightly with water and press the braids into the edge, overlapping the pieces slightly to achieve a seamless effect. This technique also works well with just two pieces of dough, twisted together.

Creative Crusts, Toppings, and Fillings

pies from food52

4. Ruffled Phyllo Crust: Place a piece of phyllo onto a work surface. Brush with melted butter, and top with another piece of phyllo. Place the second piece slightly off kilter, so the edges don’t match up, and the points of the dough are askew from the first piece. Repeat until you’ve layered 7 pieces of dough. Transfer the dough to a pie plate, and crumple the overhang around the edge. From here, the crust can be blind baked or paired with a filling and baked.

5. Cut Out Double Crust Pie: Roll out pie dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes from the dough. Working from the outside inward, layer the dough pieces around the pie filling, overlapping slightly. This is a simple and eye catching alternative to a standard double crust pie -- and is far easier than lattice work.

6. Toasted Marshmallow: Love the look of meringue? Try an easy (and delicious) alternative -- marshmallow topping! Cook sugar and water until it reaches 250 degrees, then add melted gelatin and whip the heck out of it. From there? Mound it on the top of your favorite pie and toast to perfection in the oven or with a torch. 

What are your favorite ways to fancy up pies? Let us know in the comments!

Jump to Comments (8)

Tags: baking, holiday, pie, how-to & DIY, pie week

Comments (8)


10 months ago Eliz.

Cut out leaf shapes to strew over lattice top. Egg wash and turbinado sugar. A little quince mixed in with apples so that pink juices ooze over all of the above. (Thanks for this week of pie and congratulations on the book!)


10 months ago gay judson

Thanks for the directions for the lovely pie crust rims! I just asked about the braided rim and presto--it's there waiting for me!


10 months ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks for such a great article! I think I'm going to go with the circle edge for Thanksgiving this year. Cross your fingers for me...


10 months ago juleeclip

I've been really wanting to try the braided crust but always get worried about it getting too warm (and then tough) while I'm working.


10 months ago ZombieCupcake

I like to put praline on top of piped whipped cream


10 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I do the double crust cut out trick shown above, but use tiny seasonal cookie cutters, such as maple leaves for autumn pies, stars for Independence Day, small reindeer arranged in concentric circles, or candles, or stars for Christmas. Can't wait to see others' comments here! ;o)


10 months ago gay judson

Antonia, do your cut-outs distort in the baking? Mine did last time and you could not tell what they had been. But I will do them again--love the idea, especially when they hold their shape. I was using stars for the 4th--and they curled up and went every which way.


10 months ago Valerie

Great ideas! I think I'll have try a few (or all) of them to be ready for the holidays.