2 Fall Pies Anyone Can Pull Off, for the Holidays & Beyond

One rustic, one fancy-schmancy.

November 22, 2019

We've partnered with FIJI Water to share our go-to tips for elevating any hosted occasion, from an awards show viewing party to a fall feast.

I have a confession to make: I love pie. However, and here comes the confession part, I am terrified of making them.

The thought of perfectly mixing dough, rolling it out (without tearing it to pieces or making a mess), transferring it to a baking dish (again, without tearing), and timing it so both the crust and filling are cooked through right is enough to make me swear off homemade pies for good.

But since a bubbling, golden-brown pie fresh from the oven is a must for any holiday table, I figured now was a good to conquer my fear.

So I called on Ella Quittner and Emma Laperruque, two baking enthusiasts here at Food52, to teach me their very best pie-making tips and recipes, from the basics to more advanced techniques.

Read on find out how to make two party-ready pies, from a beginner-friendly galette to a showstopping lattice slab pie, and get ideas for how to incorporate each one into a beautiful seasonal spread.

Tips for Making A Beginner-Friendly Galette

To kick things off, Ella helped me make an apple galette, essentially a freeform pie. (One of the words most commonly used to describe it is "rustic," meaning it doesn't have to look perfect to taste great.) It doesn't require a pie pan (rather, a sheet pan), but you will have to make and roll out a basic all-purpose flour dough, which are the two steps where I usually go wrong. But with a few of Ella's tips you can easily work your way through the recipe.

  • Use chilled butter and ice-cold water for the dough. When making pie dough, you want the butter to stay nice and cold (if it gets too warm, you won't have a flaky crust). To make sure this happens, use refrigerated butter and ice-cold water when making the dough. If you do notice the butter getting a little melty as you work with it, Ella says, "you can just pop the bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes to let it cool down a bit."
  • Rotate the dough as you roll it. "The easiest way to go for a circular shape," Ella explains, "is to just roll forward and backward." As you roll it out, though, rotate it to keep the shape from getting lopsided.
  • Assemble the galette on the sheet pan. Instead of filling the dough with apples and then trying to transfer it all to a baking dish, move your dough to a parchment-lined sheet pan before assembling everything.
  • Tears or cracks? No worries, just patch it. If you notice a tear or crack as you fold and crimp the galette, just grab a pinch of dough from another section and use it to patch things up.
  • Experiment with different fillings. Galettes don't have to be sweet, they can also go savory too. "I like to do them with all sorts of greens, vegetables, caramelized onions, and usually add some type of cheese, like sharp cheddar or goat," Ella says. If you want to keep it dessert-focused though, you can use all types of different fruits, like berries, pears, peaches, plums, and more.

What to Serve It With

Photo by Rocky Luten

For an unfussy holiday spread that matches your rustic galette, skip the tablecloth and fine china. For the table decor, keep things simple but chic with a few vases of flowers, mix-matched plates, and linen napkins.

Let your recipes shine in simple white serving platters (or better yet, serve the dishes in what you cooked them in, just let everything cool down a bit first) and use clear glassware for all of the beverages—a few bottles of FIJI Water, wine, and apple cider, so that the spread feels complete (and there's a drink option for everyone).

Betty Watson's Basic Pot Roast

This "basic" pot roast might be extra easy to prepare—you just brown the meat then simmer it for a few hours with vegetables, herbs, and wine—but the flavor is complex, cozy, and soul-satisfying all at once. Perfect for a cool-weather gathering.

Sweet & Smoky Roasted Carrots

These carrots make an excellent side dish for any occasion because they can be served hot or cold, and are dressed up simply with a few spices and a swoosh of Greek yogurt.

Diane Morgan's Classic Mashed Potatoes

It doesn't get more classic than these Genius-approved mashed potatoes with nothing but salt, pepper, butter, and milk. I personally like to eat them plain, but they do taste nice with a bit of this mushroom-thyme gravy drizzled over top.

How to Make an Expert-Level Lattice Pie

After mastering the galette with Ella, Emma stepped in to teach me a few more advanced techniques, namely how to lattice. Having never latticed anything in my life, the idea was intimidating.

But using Martha Stewart's Genius slab pie (perfect for a party, I might add) as our base recipe, Emma broke the whole process down into manageable steps, sharing a few of her best tips and helping to troubleshoot along the way.

  • Use a food processor to get the dough going. Once you've got a better feel for dough, you can use a food processor to speed up the process and cut down on cleanup, like we did in the video above. Bonus: Since the metal on a food processor doesn't warm up as easily, you don't have to worry about "hot hands" melting the butter.
  • Make two rounds of dough, one bigger than the other. When you're making a slab pie with a lattice, you need to separate the dough into two rounds. "We're dividing the dough into two different-size rectangles: one of them is going to be the bottom piece...the other one will be a little bit smaller because it's the top crust, and this is what we're turning into our lattice," Emma says.
  • Experiment with different flour combinations. All-purpose flour will give your dough its sturdiness and make it easy to work with, Emma explains, but you can swap in small percentages of different types of flours, like rye or whole wheat. In the video above, we did 90 percent all-purpose and 10 percent rye flour to add a subtle nutty flavor.
  • Play around with different flavors. Since it's fall, Emma chose pears as the main ingredient for our filling, with a twist: black pepper. "It sounds odd at first, but black pepper and fruit are super, super delicious together; it's like the sweetness and just a little bit of spice," she says. Other creative flavor combos you could try: apples with miso and lemon juice; peaches with cardamom; cranberry and sage.
  • Learn how to lattice. "A lattice crust looks really hard," Emma says, "but it's not." When measuring out and slicing the long strips of dough you'll need to make a lattice, use a ruler (or something similar) as a guideline to keep edges straight and a pastry cutter for easy cutting. There's a special method for doing the actual lattice-ing (check it out in the video), but if you happen to tear or rip a strip of the dough along the way, just use a bit of extra dough to patch things up (just like with the galette).

What to Serve It With

Photo by Rocky Luten

If you want to make your whole spread feel a bit more sparkly and over the top, a linen tablecloth and vintage brass candlesticks are a great place to start. Instead of plain glassware, go for an option that has a bit of shine on it, like these gold-rimmed barrel glasses or metallic-edged champagne coupes.

Same goes for the beverages: Keep wine, champagne, and a few bottles of FIJI Water in the mix, but also consider making a special cocktail, like this bubbly winter spritz. As for the food, well, you'll want to choose dishes that match the decor—and that stunning lattice pie.

Engagement Roast Chicken With Carrot Panzanella

Roast chicken is always impressive, but it's especially so when you serve it over an herby carrot panzanella on your prettiest serving platter.

Carrot & Potato Gratin with Parmesan & Thyme

Layers on layers of thinly sliced carrots and potatoes softened on the inside and crisped up on the outside with chicken stock, Parmesan, and thyme makes for a wow-worthy holiday side dish.

Savory Dinner Rolls

Dinner rolls are a must for any holiday spread, but your guests will be all the more impressed if you baked them yourself—and these cheesy, herby ones really up the ante.

What's your favorite fall pie? Tell us in the comments below!

We're partnering with FIJI Water, premium natural artesian water bottled at the source in the Fiji Islands, to share our go-to entertaining tips for all types of fall and winter occasions. FIJI Water is also giving back this season: Their parent company recently pledged $750 million to Caltech toward research combatting climate change and studying decomposable plastics, and by 2025, all FIJI Water bottles will be made of 100% recycled plastic.

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Erin Alexander is the Brand Partnerships Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.