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I just made a lattice pie crust for the first time. The best I can say about it is that it wasn't a total disaster. So I would like to know what is the proper way to make it.

  1. How much dough do I actually need for one lattice (let's say for a 26 cm pan)?
  2. What crust thickness is optimal for the strips? (I had 3 mm, and it seemed a bit thin, they tore sometimes).
  3. How many strips do I need?
  4. What length should my strips be? Obviously, they should be longer than the finished lattice's size, because they weave over and under. But how much extra length do I need for that?
  5. Is there a good technique for weaving which helps me make an evenly weaved crust? I had lots of trouble managing the strips in the middle (widest) part.
  6. Once weaved, how do I keep the strips from moving around while I transfer the lattice to the fridge and to the pie?
  7. How do I attach the upper crust to the lower crust? My pinching didn't produce too good a result.
  8. (maybe part of the above) How do I make the edge of the pie aesthetically acceptable? Mine is one long lump.
  9. How do I prevent the liquid in the filling from squeezing through the crust holes and flooding the crust?
  10. (should probably have come first) Are denser or looser lattices easier to make?

I made a rather loose lattice, like this one:

loose pie crust

But I have seen much denser pie crusts too, like this one.

dense crust

I know this is a rather long question, if you people think it is better, I will split it into many small ones. Feedback welcome in the comments here or in chat.

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are two keys to this. First, work right on the pie and start in the middle. Second, fold strips back to make it easy to do the over/under.

enter image description here

This picture, from http://localfoods.about.com/od/preparationtips/ss/latticepiecrust_8.htm, is kind of the aha! moment for me. Fold half of the vertical strips back, lay a horizontal strip, unfold the folded strips and fold the ones that weren't, repeat.

Trim extra length from the strips, and use eggwash to glue them to the bottom part of the pie, where it comes up at the edges.

You'll have extra dough what with the trimmings and all - just use it to make a freeform gallete or the like. If you have no extra pie filling, use jam, or butter/brown sugar/raisins. Way less trouble than trying to make exactly the right amount of dough for the lattice.

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So, I am supposed to weave it on the pie itself? This will sure take care of the wiggling during transfer problem. But don't I risk getting the strips dirty on the upper surface this way? And thank you for the folding idea, it looks like a big improvement. –  rumtscho Apr 1 '12 at 21:02
    
It's a treatment that's best done on a filling that is pretty dry when it's raw. Apples or peaches, for example, as opposed to pumpkin puree or something custardy. Not for what the finished pie is like, but for keeping the strips clean while you weave them. –  Kate Gregory Apr 1 '12 at 21:08
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I'll begin by saying that a lot is up to your own personal preferences.

  1. It's quite common to just double the amount of dough if you want a lattice. So you can buy two pie crusts in the store, or make the double amount of dough yourself and divide it by two. But you will have left-overs. The amount of dough needed for the lattice depends of course on your type of lattice, and this is up to you.

  2. If you use store-bought dough, you can use the dough as it is, thickness-wise. If you use home-made dough, I would make it a bit thinner than your crust, perhaps 0.5 cm (1/5 inch). Too thick won't be nice to eat, too thin will be prone to tearing.

  3. This is completely up to you. If you use wider strips, it's common-sense that you'll need less strips. It also depends on how much dough you want on top. I think I use about 12 strips (and I make them quite thin, about 1 cm (a big 1/3 inch)).

  4. You don't need a lot of extra length for it. Using store-bought dough is very handy for this, since you can make shorter strips (at the side of the dough) that you can place at the side of your pie. If you use home-made dough, I'd suggest you roll it out till you have a circular shape and you can work like you would've bought it.

  5. If you want to have a real lattice (like in your first picture), it will take a bit of time. I think this picture shows it better than I can explain. You have another method (like in your second picture), which is very fast, but I think it doesn't look very good. For the second method, you put all the strips for one direction on top and then all the strips for the other direction. There is however a third method, which I prefer and it's in between. I can't seem to find a good picture for it, but I'll try to describe it: you start with one strip in direction A, you put one strip on top for direction B, then again one for direction A, again one in direction B, but now you hold up the second one for direction A so that this new strip can go under and so one. It's not a 100% pure lattice, but it looks a lot better than the lazy version in my opinion. Another thing you can do for a bit extra is twist the strips so you have something like this. In this case, it's not very noticeable if a strip goes under or over another one.

6., 7. & 8. My trick is to put a bit of beaten egg yolk on top of the end of my strips and fold the remaining pie crust from the bottom over the end of my strips. The egg yolk works as glue and the folded over pie crust makes it better aesthetically, in my opinion.

  1. I haven't had this problem. I don't think you can do a lot about that. Doesn't that give it a home-made look?

  2. I think the degree of difficulty is more in the width of the strips than if the pie is denser/looser. At least for me, wider strips are more easy to handle.

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