Elevate Homemade Pie Crust With A 2-Step Sunflower Crimp

While you could argue that every season is pie season, there's just something extra special about baking homemade pies during the holidays. And when family gatherings become opportunities to show off your latest baking skills, why not deliver a show-stopping pie that looks as good as it tastes? Pie crusts can be so much more than mere shells to hold fillings together, and a few simple techniques are sure to take your pie from a regular meal to edible art.

You've probably already seen crimped pie crusts — when a baker pinches the edges of the dough — but with two easy steps, you can bring your crimp to the next level. Baking Coach Erin Jeanne McDowell developed the sunflower crimp, a quick crimping method that's almost as easy as the classic fork tine crimp, but much more whimsical. The resulting pie crust is lined with small triangles of dough that curve into graceful points, giving the appearance of sunflower petals.

To achieve this look, first line a pie plate with your dough. Place one of your forefingers on the inside edge of the dough, pushing outward as you pinch the indentation into a point with your other forefinger and thumb. Repeat this technique until the edge is fully crimped, and looks encircled with sharp spikes. Next, take the dull end of a utensil, and press a small line into the dough between each point. This creates extra definition between points and rounds out the bases to more closely resemble sunflower petals.

Tips for achieving the perfect sunflower crimp

'Tis the season for both sweet and savory pies, from a praline pumpkin pie, to an ube sweet potato pie, to a classic chicken pot pie — all of which would pair excellently with the gorgeous sunflower crimp. Warm flavors and flaky crusts are the perfect antidotes to winter weather, so whipping up a homemade pie is a great solution for full calendars and empty bellies. Now that you're determined to make your pie a masterpiece, there are a few tricks to ensure a result that tastes decadent and looks the part too.

Start with reliable recipes for the pie crust and pie filling. If you're using homemade crust, be sure to properly chill your dough, so that the crust is malleable enough to mold into sunflower petals, but firm enough to hold its shape. Plus, keeping the dough cold is a cardinal rule for pie making, because the chilled fats create flaky pockets in the crust once baked. Flour your work surface and rolling pin before rolling out the dough — this helps prevent it from sticking and snagging.

Whether making your own crust or opting for a store-bought one, protect your edges from too much heat exposure in the oven. Crust edges, especially the delicate points of sunflower petals, bake more quickly than the crust beneath heaps of filling, so try silicon edge protectors or aluminum foil to prevent burning. This crimping technique makes a pie for a special dinner, or a festive family function, and might even outshine the main course!