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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Making a Lattice-Top Pie Crust


Making a lattice top is not a complicated process; it just takes practice. The techniques shown here can be used for more than just fruit pies: woven lattices are a great way to dress up quiches, pastries, and tarts.

Prepare your dough. It should be chilled at least half an hour before you begin rolling it out and making your lattice. Roll out half the dough and line the pie plate. Refrigerate.

1. On a lightly floured surface, roll reserved dough out to a ¼-inch thickness. Roll it in a circle, as though preparing a double-crusted pie. Transfer the dough to a small cutting board, baking sheet, or other rimless pan that will fit in your refrigerator.

2. Carefully cut the dough into strips approximately ¾-inch wide. You can use a sharp knife, pizza cutter, or scallop-edged pastry wheel. If you're worried about cutting straight, use a ruler as a guide.

3. Cover the pastry strips with plastic wrap and place the pan of dough in the refrigerator to relax while you prepare the pie filling and transfer it to the pastry-lined pie plate.

4. When you're ready to weave, moisten the rim of the pie with a small amount of water. Start with the longest strips and lay the first two in an X in the center of the pie. You can arrange them at 90 degree angles or at a sharper 45-degree angle. Alternate horizontal and vertical strips, weaving them in an over-and-under pattern. Use the shortest strips for the edges of the lattice. If you're having trouble removing the dough from the cutting board or pan, roll the strips up like a rug and unroll them onto the pie. Press the ends of the strips firmly to the lip of the pie and trim away any excess dough with kitchen shears or a paring knife.

5. The amount of filling left to peek through the lattice is entirely a matter of style: thin strips of dough make a more elegant lattice, while a few wide strips give the pie a more rustic look. You can even twist the strips of dough as you form the lattice, so they look like festive paper streamers.

6. Once the pie has been covered with the lattice, brush the top with egg wash (an egg beaten with a tablespoon of water or milk) or milk for a brown, shiny crust. Dust the top with cinnamon-sugar, if desired.

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