Pies, Two-Crust: Finishing III

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Making a Woven Lattice
A traditional lattice is perhaps the most stunning example of a decorative top, but this woven crust only looks difficult. Actually, it is simple to execute once the pattern is understood, and it makes a magnificent cover for all kinds of fillings, particularly fruit mixtures. Just weave the strips of dough over the filling, working from the center to the edges, then secure them with the overhanging bottom crust. The pattern is developed by working methodically, always folding back the strips that are under the perpendicular strip, laying a strip across, then straightening the folded strips.

Unlike other two-crust pies, the bottom crust of a lattice-topped pie is not trimmed flush to the pie pan, but rather left with a 1/2-inch margin like a one-crust pie. Crimp the edge in any fashion; ropes and rickracks look particularly good.

Fruit fillings tend to bubble up through the openings in lattice and flow over the sides of the pie onto the oven floor. To catch the juices and save cleanup, bake these pies on a round pizza pan if you have one. A round pan permits a more even flow of air around the pie than a rectangular cookie sheet, so the pie bakes more uniformly.

A lattice pattern can be changed dramatically by changing the width of its strips, by cutting strips with straight, rather than fluted edges, by the amount of separation between the strips, or by placing the strips on the diagonal to form diamond-shaped, rather than square, spaces. The easiest lattice isnít woven at all.

Cutting the Strips
Roll out dough for the top crust on a lightly floured surface. Cut 1/2-inch-wide strips with a fluted pastry wheel, a plain pastry wheel or pizza cutter, or a knife.

Starting the Lattice
Trim bottom crust to 1/2-inch beyond edge of pie plate and fill. Lay one long strip of lattice across the center of the filling. Set a second strip perpendicular to the first strip. Then, add two more strips, one on either side of the first.

Weaving the Lattice Strips
Fold back the middle strip. Lay another strip underneath it and over the two remaining strips. Straighten the folded strips; repeat on the other side. Then fold back the two strips that are under the perpendicular strip; lay another strip across, and straighten the strips. Repeat in each direction, from the center.

Finishing the Lattice
Continue working from the center of the pie out to the edges until all the strips have been used or until the filling is completely covered with the lattice. As you get toward the edge, the strips will have more overhang.