Crimping a pie crust is as individual as you are. It’s a necessary step to a successful pie and the one you create becomes your signature.
In Webster’s Dictionary, crimping is defined as “To cause to become wavy, bent or pinched as in to pinch or press together in order to seal”. Well said. Now if Webster’s had a sense of humor they would finish the definition with : “Because if you do not seal properly, you’re going to have a blow out and a heck of a mess to clean up”. That’s the truth. Even though it’s a necessary step, it’s a decorative step as well. Remember, if the pie looks amazing, it’s already starting to taste amazing.
The different styles depend on how you’re feeling that day or if you have developed your own signature way. At some point you’ll make enough pies that you develop your own style. Mine is the simple yet effective “pinch”. The pinch is when you take your thumb and pointer and create a “v” with your tips. Then you take your opposite pointer and press it into the “v”. Each time you will place your thumb in the last crimp. This is a very popular method. The clown ruffle is a crimp that is smooth and looks just like the ruffle around a clown’s neck. Use the same thumb and pointer on one hand and then turn the opposite thumb flat to create the shape.Some others are the dreadful looking fork press. Just take a fork and smash the two crusts together. Not attractive at all but it’s out there so I’ll just consider this a for warning. Remember, what you do outside the crust, reflects the inside. If you’re ever with someone who is doing this, now’s the time to show them a beautiful decorative crust. Best excuse for you to rescue them and cover up that mess. The decorative look is after you finish the crimp, make small cut outs like little leaves or circles. Egg wash the entire crimped crust and then lay each leave on the crust overlapping the last. Leaves are especially nice for this in the Fall. I have posted the pie crust with the circle overlay to show you. I have also posted a picture to show you how to do the entire crust with circles. This is a nice trick because you can create vents without intentionally puncturing the crusts. Just leave small vents when you lay the circles down.
If you’re making a gluten-free crust, working with small circles is a very easy way to work with that crust. It can be a challenge to move a large circle without cracking it. Whether you’re gluten-free or not, these tips work very well for any pie.
If you are making a single shell, it’s a really good idea to make the complete shell already with the crimping done and then freeze it. You only have to freeze it for an hour but remember, you have butter in the crust (you better be using butter!) and as soon as it hits that oven, it might want to relax. This is just an insurance to be sure your quiche or cream pie (heavens!) will hold up. I like to make a batch of pie dough and then make them all single shells and have them ready to go in the freezer.
So that’s my lesson on crimping. I never thought there was that much to know but I guess once you start talking about it, there’s more than you think. There’s more than I thought! Feel free to add any ideas you have. Remember to have fun. Making pies with kids and watching them create their own styles (sorry about the mess) is actually more fun than eating the pie itself. It’s almost time for the holidays so you have plenty of time for a few dress rehearsals. How bad can that be? Here’s a quick tip: If it’s that bad (including the blowouts): Regardless of what it looks like, save it by putting a serving of the pie mess in a dessert glass and add a scoop of ice cream and another scoop of the filling. People will think you made the best dessert ever! And do you know what? You just did.