Pie Demystified

Tried and true tips — from fillings to crust

Photos by Michael Kartes

Blueberry-Pie-17 Pie is comforting, warm and easier to make from scratch than you may think. Issaquah cookbook author and former restaurant owner Danielle Kartes shares two of her favorite end-of-summer pie recipes — and tips and tricks she learned when she was a little girl baking pies alongside her mother.

Spiced Caramel Apple Pie

  • 1 butter pie dough
  • (see recipe next page)
  • 5-6 Granny Smith or any tart apple, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour

In a medium saucepan, add brown sugar, butter, pumpkin pie spice and sliced peeled apples; simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat until apples begin to lose a bit of crunch. I love using pumpkin pie spice in apple pie; you get four or five sweet warm spices in one bottle. Once you’ve got a great sauce going, take off the heat, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the flour over the apples and mix thoroughly. Pour the filling into a pie dish that has the rolled bottom crust.

To make the lattice, roll half prepared crust into a 10-by-10 round and slice into eight strips. Once pie is filled with apples, lay four strips across each other. No weaving; who’s got time for weaving? Use your fingers to pinch and crimp the edges of the lattice strips to the edge of your pie crust.

Tips for Flaky Light Crust

  • Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.
  • Allow the crust to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before you roll it.
  • Flatten pie dough into a disk or two disks for a double crust before chilling.
  • Shortening in pie crust (think Crisco) makes for even flakier layers.
  • Don’t overwork it. “Rustic” or messy-looking always wins because it tastes better.

Butter Pie Dough

I definitely cannot take any credit for making a pie dough recipe! You can’t mess with or add to perfection. This perfect crust is a French cooking benchmark.

  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ to ½ cups ice water

In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a pastry cutter, mix the butter and flour until it’s crumbly and resembles large or coarse ground cornmeal. Slowly add enough ice water while the mixer is on the lowest setting to bring your dough together. Transfer pie dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and form into a disk. Wrap tightly and chill for 30 minutes or up to three days. Allow pastry to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before rolling out on a floured surface.


Blueberry Pie

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup butter

Mix everything except the butter in a bowl and pour into pie crust. Dot the top with butter. I used the leftover pie trimmings to make a crumbly top. Bake for about 60 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven on a baking sheet to catch overflow.


  • Use pie dough scraps for a crumbly topping shortcut — no waste.
  • Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to overripe fruit intended for pie filling to bring back a fresh tart taste.
  • Skip flour or thickeners for under-ripe fruit so you get a bit of juice in your pie.
  • Don’t throw away scraps of dough. Simply lay them on the baking sheet you intend to cook your pie on and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  • Adding a sprinkle of salt in pie filling brings balance to the flavor profile.
  • If your pie’s edges begin to darken, tent with foil to finish baking. For a glossy bakery crust, beat one egg with one tablespoon of water and brush over the pie’s crust before baking and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  • Basic Filling: “When I was a little girl my mom always said, ‘¼ cup of sugar to 4 or 5 cups sweet, perfectly ripe fruit and 1/4 cup of flour,’” Danielle Kartes said. “Or ½ cup of sugar if the fruit was tart. I’ve been making basic pie filling without a recipe my entire life.”
  • Why weave lattice? Just lay strips of dough on top of each other to fake it and save time.


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