September 12, 2011

Lessons in Lattice

One of my favorite ways to top a pie is to use a lattice crust. It's so stupidly easy, but incredibly impressive. In my humble pie opinion, it makes your pie look professional, and it hides a multitude of crust sins.

After searching around, the crust recipe I've been using for a while is Mark Bittman's recipe. I like that you can make it in the food processor, and it comes together really quickly. I make his double-crust recipe, and use one for the lattice top. I also like to make little rolled cookies with the dough scraps.

I learned my lattice lesson from none other than Alton Brown, and his technique is foolproof. Once you try it, you'll be all like "Pshaw. Look at the bakery window and their lattice topped pies. Anyone can do that!"

Crust Recipe: (double for lattice crust)
⅛ cups (about 5 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus some for dusting work surface
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
8 TBS (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
About 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the container of a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.

Place the mixture in a bowl and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over it. Use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to gradually gather the mixture into a ball; if the mixture seems dry, add another ½ tablespoon ice water. When you can make the mixture into a ball with your hands, do so. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten into a small disk, and freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for 30 minutes); this will ease rolling. (You can also refrigerate the dough for a day or two, or freeze it almost indefinitely.)

You can roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, usually quite successfully; sprinkle both sides of it with a little more flour, then proceed. Or sprinkle a countertop or large board with flour. Unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface; sprinkle its top with flour. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes; it should give a little when you press your fingers into it.

Roll with light pressure, from the center out. (If the dough seems very sticky at first, add flour liberally; but if it becomes sticky only after you roll it for a few minutes, return it to the refrigerator for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Continue to roll, adding small amounts of flour as necessary, rotating the dough occasionally, and turning it over once or twice during the process. (Use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.) When the dough is about 10 inches in diameter (it will be less than ¼-inch thick), place your pie plate upside down over it to check the size.

Lattice Instructions:
Stolen from both Alton Brown and Smitten Kitchen

I'm not going to type it all out again, because this link (and Deb's awesome Microsoft Paint images) explain it in great detail. It's a really easy method.

I hope you try it on your next pie!