3 New Ways to Top a Pie (That Aren't a Lattice)

August 27, 2013

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: Maggie Battista, a.k.a EatBoutique, shows us how to get creative with pie -- beyond the filling.

Beyond the lattice from Food52

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I have a love-hate relationship with pie. And before you gasp, let’s talk about it.

There are, perhaps, a thousand reasons to love pie. Consider the perfect ratio of a half-tart, half-sweet fruity filling, or a rich pie crust that’s at once crisp and tender, or even the scoop of vanilla ice cream or the mass of whipped cream (or both) that always finds its way to my slice. That’s almost ten reasons right there.

Pie from Food52

But once you’ve mastered the perfect piecrust or found a frozen crust you love in a pinch, the creativity of the pie presentation generally evaporates. Conditioned to simply slap a flat top crust on it or maybe a lattice design, I mentally file pie into my “least creative kitchen tasks” folder.

As a food gift lover and evangelist, I’m ashamed to admit these feelings toward pie. After all, pie is generally designed to be the epitome of food gift love, the workhorse of the food gift spectrum that keeps on giving slice after slice, a food that is both gift and gift box in one. But seriously, when I want to let loose and flex my creative muscles in the kitchen, I just don’t make pie.

A few weeks back, I stepped out of my flat-top-crust box and, with a few random kitchen tools, reinvigorated my pie making. With pizza wheel, cookie cutter, and paper and pencil in hand, I found a way to love pie -- for good. 

Flower pie from Food52 Flower pie 

Put a Flower on It

Roll out your raw pie dough onto a floured surface. With a pizza wheel, cut the dough into very thin triangles. Place the pointy side of each triangle in the center of your filled pie and lay them gently out toward the outer edge of the pie plate. Overlap many of the triangles but leave a few gaps for fruit to bubble up through the cracks. Place a small circle of pie dough in the center over all the triangle tips. Brush with an egg wash and bake.

Shingle pie from Food52 Shingle pie from Food52

Seaside Shingled Cape

Roll out your raw pie dough onto a floured surface. With square cookie cutters of various sizes, cut up the dough into small individual squares. Layer them in a slightly overlapping pattern. You may need a little extra dough to finish your masterpiece. Brush with an egg wash and bake.

Food52 pie 52 pie

Spell It Out

Roll out your raw pie dough onto a floured surface. On top of parchment paper cut to generally the same size and shape as your dough, hand-draw your desired letters or numbers. (You may also opt to print out the letters or numbers on a printer and trace them onto your parchment paper.) Once you are pleased with your drawing, place the parchment with your drawing on top of your raw pie dough. With your pencil, lightly press over the outline you’ve made so that it leaves a slight impression in the dough. Remove the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut out your letters or numbers. Carefully lift each piece of dough and place them on top of your filled pie. Brush with an egg wash and bake.

Pies from FOod52 Pies from Food52

What's your favorite way to top a pie? 

Photos by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Carol
  • Connie
  • Maurie Ange
    Maurie Ange
  • amazinc
  • Barbara Robertson
    Barbara Robertson
Eat Boutique is the go-to resource for all things food gifts, including one-of-a-kind, small-batch products and inspirational articles and recipes.


Carol July 17, 2014
Pear or apple pie with brown sugar, five spice, butter and flour topping, like a crumble. 10 minutes before the pie is done add feta or sharp cheddar crumbles. The sweet and cheesy end result is a winner.
Connie October 13, 2013
I love these ideas! I enjoy taking chicken pot pies to friends and usually put a large letter in the middle (family last name) surrounded by first name initials, either cut into the crust or cut out of extra dough. It personalizes it and young ones especially love having a piece of pie made just for them! :)
Maurie A. September 1, 2013
I'm gluten free & I finally found a recipe for piecrust that is really good, everybody LOVES it. It's off the back of boxes of ENER G Pure Rice Flour. But the dough is VERY fragile. I was making the Martha Stewart "slab pie" concept and there was no way I was going to make a one piece top crust. I'd pieced the bottom crust . So I made long rustic strips and then I filled in the open spots with stars and hearts that I cut out with a cookie cutter. Worked great and looked good too. This is a great idea.
eatboutique September 2, 2013
Oh I love that idea, Maurie! I'm going to try it. Thanks for this note!
amazinc September 1, 2013
I bake lots and give as gifts...using my initials on top of a pie is a great way to have friends think of me with every bite! Thanks Maggie for wonderful the shingles, 'tho I don't live in New England.........
eatboutique September 2, 2013
I love little shingled cottages and New England, but I also love the idea of initials - especially for a wedding or anniversary or birthday. Thanks for leaving this note! xox
Barbara R. September 1, 2013
If it's a pear pie, I cut a pair of pears with stems and leaves into the crust. Or plums, whatever the fruit is. Used to do it for my mother when I was young.
eatboutique September 2, 2013
Thanks for leaving this note! Now I want to start cutting fruit shapes. I saw someone do a raspberry recently all with tiny circles, it was adorable.
em-i-lis September 1, 2013
I love these ideas!!! I usually put little fleur de lis or fall leaves tumbling across my pies, but these designs are totally charming as well. And scraps of crust baked make a great little snack!
eatboutique September 2, 2013
Scraps of crust for snacks makes so much sense. They might be nice filled with some jam too. :) Thanks for posting!
em-i-lis September 2, 2013
thanks, eatboutique. i sometimes dust them with cinnamon and sugar before baking which is great, and smeared with jam, oh yes! :)
Ruth M. September 1, 2013
I like a crumble topping to my pie. Brown sugar, butter, oats, flour and cinnamon, maybe cardamom, coconut, chopped nuts...mmmmm!
eatboutique September 2, 2013
Oh yes, the crumble is its own unique thing that deserves it's own post. Love!
FishbonePirate August 27, 2013
What great ideas! I love using the scraps I cut off of the crust to make leaves or lace like designs on the top of the pie. I especially like the shingle technique.
eatboutique August 27, 2013
I love pie scraps too! I want to do a lace pattern next. Thanks for taking a peek. :)
heidi August 27, 2013
so thrilled to see my work here...huge fan of maggie, obviously, and food52!
eatboutique August 27, 2013
Heidi, I'm telling everyone we ate ALL THE PIE. ;)
Jill D. August 27, 2013
love this! especially the shingles. :)
eatboutique August 27, 2013
Ahh, I'm so glad you liked the shingles. I was thinking of a little cottage house on the Cape. :)