The essential first step in making the perfect pie? Fitting and crimping your crust. To do like an expert, follow our brief step-by-step guide to transferring rolled pastry to a pie plate, fitting it to your specific dish, trimming the excess dough, and folding and crimping the crust for a final flourish. The trick, of course, is in the method—four simple but precise steps that, through baking thousands of pies, our test-kitchen staff has trial-and-errored down to a science.
The instructions here are for fitting the pastry and crimping the crust for a single-crust pie as you'd use for a pecan pie or coconut custard pie, rather than a double crust pie like the typical apple pie. Single crust pies are more likely to have decorative crusts simply because there is no "roof" of pastry over the filling
Our food editors' favorite pastry for a pie crust is the test kitchen's pâte brisée. Pate brisée is the French term for short pastry, the tender, flaky dough used for sweet and savory crusts for everything from pies to tarts to quiches. Use this recipe or your favorite piecrust recipe (we hope it's a Martha Stewart recipe!). Allow time for the pie dough to thaw if frozen or to come to room temperature if it's been in the refrigerator chilling, then roll it out on a lightly floured work surface. For a nine-inch pie plate, aim for a 13-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick.
Once you've mastered this essential technique, you'll be ready to move on to more fancy designs for your crust. When that happens, please check out our guide to creative crust techniques and take your pies to a beautiful next level with braided crusts, cut-out shapes, lattice tops, and more.