With ripe, seasonal fruits at the farmers’ market, we’re excited to kick off our holiday baking! Here’s everything you need to know about making a classic pie, with foolproof step-by-step tips for every part of the process, from mixing the dough to creating a beautiful lattice top. Read on to master the techniques, then scroll down for some of our favorite recipes for the season.
Cold butter produces a pie pastry that’s versatile and delicious, creating flaky layers in the crust. To keep it light and crispy, avoid overworking the dough. See the full pie dough recipe here.
|Process the dry ingredients
Fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add the flour, sugar and salt to the work bowl. Pulse the machine 2 or 3 times to mix the ingredients evenly.
|Add the butter
Using a sharp knife, cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes and add them to the work bowl.
|Pulse to create coarse crumbs
Pulse the food processor 8 to 10 times. At this point, some of the butter pieces should be blended into the flour, but bits the size of peas should still be visible.
|Check the consistency
When the dough is done, it should come together in a rough mass in the food processor bowl but not form a ball. Don’t overmix, or the crust will be tough.
|Shape and chill the dough
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Shape the dough into a 6-inch disk. Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Rolling out dough and creating a neat, beautiful edge is simple — just make sure to keep your surface lightly dusted with just enough flour to keep it from sticking.
|Roll out the dough
Lightly dust a work surface, the dough and the rolling pin with flour. Rolling from the center toward the edges and in all directions, roll the dough into a round 2 to 3 inches larger than your pie dish or pan.
|Turn and lift the dough
Using a bench scraper or an offset spatula, lift and turn the dough several times as you roll to prevent sticking. Dust the surface and the rolling pin with flour as needed.
|Brush off the excess flour
Carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin, brushing off the excess flour with a pastry brush. Excess flour can make the dough tough.
|Line the pan with dough
Position the rolling pin over a pie dish or pan. Unroll the dough and center it in the dish. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the dish, taking care not to pull or stretch it.
|Trim the dough
If making a single-crust pie (shown here), use a small paring knife or a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang.
|Create the pie edge
Roll the overhang under itself to create a high edge on the dish’s rim. Using your index finger and thumb, pinch the dough around the rim to form a fluted edge or create another decorative edge of your choice.
“Blind baking” a tart or pie is necessary when the pie filling is uncooked, or when the crust needs to bake longer than the filling. The key is keeping the dough weighted down so it’s easy to fill later on.
|Line the dough with foil
Preheat the oven to 400°F or according to your recipe. Line the dough with a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure to press the foil into the fluted edges of the dough.
Fill the foil-lined crust with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice. Make sure the weights cover the entire bottom of the crust. Bake the lined crust until dry, about 15 minutes or according to your recipe.
|Check the crust
Check to see if the crust is ready by pulling up one corner of the foil. If the foil sticks, the crust is not fully dried. Return it to the oven, checking again every 2 minutes.
|Remove the weights
Carefully remove the weights and foil. Most recipes call for the crust to be baked again until partially baked, about 5 minutes longer, or fully baked, about 10 minutes longer.
|Let the crust cool
If filling a fully bake crust with an egg-based filling or for a tart that’s served cold, let the pastry crust cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.
|Fill the pie
Line a pie dish or pan with pastry dough, then pour in the filling. Because most fruits shrink as they cook, don’t be surprised if the filling is a few inches above the pie dish rim.
|Seal and make a decorative edge
Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, trim the pastry, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Roll the overhang over itself to create an edge. Embellish the dough and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
|Create steam vents
Using a paring knife, cut 3 or 4 slits in the center of the top crust. This allows the steam to escape while the pie is baking.
|Cut the dough strips
Roll out the dough into a rectangle that is 2 inches longer than the diameter of your pie pan and 1/8 inch thick. Using a pizza wheel or paring knife, trim the edges and cut the rectangle into 10 equal strips.
|Lay a row of the strips on the filling
Starting 1 inch from the edge of the pie pan, lay 4 to 6 strips about 1 inch apart over the filling. Use a thin metal spatula to pick up the dough strips gently if they stick to the work surface.
|Fold back alternating strips
Fold back every other dough strip halfway over itself. Place a strip at a sharp angle across the unfolded strips, then return the folded strips to their flat position.
|Weave the dough
Fold back the remaining 3 strips, place a dough strip about 1 inch away from the first one and return the folded strips to their flat position. Repeat to complete the lattice.
Make seasonal ingredients even sweeter with these tried and tested recipes: