The inside of the pie is certainly important, but regardless of what’s inside, there’s one thing you can do that will always make your pie look like a rock star: the classic lattice crust.
The secret is a strategy that you may have used in kindergarten with construction paper.
Here’s what you need to make a delicious apple pie with a perfect lattice crust:
- Two pie crusts
- 6-7 tart apples
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
While making this pie, I actually made the pie crust two days ahead of time and it rested for both of those days in the fridge. I found that it behaved better than any pie crust I’ve made before. So I’d suggest giving it at least an hour in the freezer if you can’t make it a day or two ahead of time.
Another thing that is really important: make sure you are working on a temperature-neutral surface. Heat will make your pie crust behave very badly. Don’t work too close to your preheating oven or on top of your dishwasher. To begin, roll out the bottom crust between two sheets of saran wrap and use the saran to flip it over into your pie dish. Don’t trim the edges just yet. You will need them to anchor your lattice top.
Next, peel, core and chop your apples into 1-inch pieces – you should end up with over six cups of apples. Another thing to remember about this pie is that the apples will cook down significantly, so it might look like you are over-stuffing the pie crust, but they will cook down. A slightly over-filled pie crust is much better than a pie that sinks down in the middle.
Mix the apples with the dry seasonings and fill the bottom half of the pie crust. Cut the butter into small, flat-ish pieces and place them on top of the apples. Okay, now it’s time to make the lattice. Are you ready? You’re ready. It’s not that tough!
Start by rolling out the pie crust between two pieces of saran wrap. It is a good idea to make your dough’s shape slightly oblong this time – you will need some pieces of dough that are longer than the diameter of the pie. Try to keep the consistency of it fairly thick and smooth. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into strips – you need seven good ones – three long ones, a few inches longer than the diameter of the pie, and four strips that are no shorter than the diameter of the pie. Be very, very, VERY slow and gentle when you pick up these strips. They will stick a little bit, and patience is key.
Take three strips: one long and two short, ,and place them on the pie parallel to each other and about an inch and a half apart (spread them equally on top of the pie). I’m going to call these the “vertical” strips, because that’s what they should look like as you look at the pie. Then, verrrry gently flip the long middle strip back so it gently bends and reaches back behind the pie.
Pick up an additional smaller strip of dough and place it perpendicular to the vertical strips, about 1 inch from the pie’s edge. This is your first horizontal strip. Since you flipped back the middle vertical piece, the new horizontal strip will rest on top of two vertical strips and underneath one.
Once you’ve placed the first horizontal strip, change the vertical ones. Gently take the middle vertical strip and bring it towards you, laying it over the horizontal strip you just placed and across the pie to the near edge. Take the two side vertical ones and gently lay them back over the horizontal strips and over the back edge of the pie out of the way. You are now ready to lay your second horizontal strip. After laying it down gently about 1 inch away from the last strip and making sure it can reach all the way to the edge of the crust, switch the vertical strips again and continue with two more horizontal strips.
If you have a strip of crust break, it is probably either too dry or getting to warm. At this point it’s a little late to deal with dryness, but you can deal with the crust being too warm. There are several options. First of all, you can just pick it back up off the pie and re-roll it out (it will help if you stick it in the freezer for a few minutes before trying to roll again). But if it’s covered in pie filling, that might not work so well and it won’t look as pretty. My advice? Eat it. Then just use some more pie crust. There should be enough pie crust in one dough recipe to make 8 to 9 strips and in my opinion, a standard-sized pie looks best with seven one-inch strips.
After you’ve finished placing and weaving the lattice strips, use your fingers to smoosh the ends of the strips into the edge of the bottom crust, gluing them together. Trim off anything that hangs over the edge of the pie pan, but leave anything that rests on the outer edge (I like to turn them upward a little bit – no reason except aesthetics). Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, placing aluminum foil over the edges of the crust after 20 minutes to prevent more browning.