Food vendors in Latin America use different folds (crescent shape or rope edge) to seal off empanadas, creating a quick way to identify whether the filling is pork meat, beef, or vegetable. When making rope-edged empanadas, I realized that Indian vendors also use markers to identify whether the samosa pastry holds a vegetable filling (upright triangles) or meat (folded over triangles). The crimped dough of Cornish pasty started out for a more practical reason: The story goes that miners could hold the pasty by the thick crimped edges and eat right up to the meat-filled pasty. They would then discard the crust without worrying about having eaten with sooty fingers. A finishing seal, besides being practical, also adds a final flourish to a pastry dough. That dual purpose comes to mind given the start of pie-making season – think apple, pumpkin, pecan, meat, and fish. I decided to learn a few simple patterns to showcase pies with different fillings.
For a Lattice Topping:
Cut ½-inch wide strips of dough, making sure that you have enough strips to cover the pie (~10 strips for a 6-inch pie dish). Lay half the strips across the filled pie in one direction, spacing them uniformly. Then lay the remaining strips uniformly at right angles over the first layer.
For a Rope Edge:
The simplest way is to cut two strips of pastry dough. Fold one over the other to form a rope pattern. Press it over the rim of the dough.
For empanada dough: Do not overstuff the empanada with filling. Leave enough dough around the sealed edge to make the rope edging. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch together a small amount of the dough. Pull it up and outwards before folding back over the sealed edge. Pinch a small amount of dough from where you ended before and repeat, overlapping slightly over the first fold. Repeat the pinching and folding pattern and a rope pattern emerges. If the folds are not tightly overlapped, you will get a crimped edge.
For a Scallop Edge:
Trim the dough to be level with the edge of the pan. Shape the dough to stand up against the rim. Pinch a piece of dough from outside of the raised edge between the left index finger and thumb (3/4-inch apart). Using the right thumb, push pastry from the inside toward the fold created by the left thumb and index finger to form a scallop.
For Herringbone Edge:
Trim dough to be level with the edge of the pan. Dip a fork in flour and press the tines of the fork into the edges of the dough or pastry. Dipping the fork again into the flour, press into the dough, this time rotating the fork so that it faces the other way — creating a herringbone design.
Enjoy finishing your pies!