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Lattice topping is a decorative topping for open-face pies. It is created by criss-crossing pieces of dough to create a pattern which resembles a lattice. Some cooks go the extra mile and actually weave their lattice topping to give it more shape and to keep it tidy. Lattice topping is usually associated with fruit pies, although it can also be used on savory pies. It looks complicated, but lattice topping is not actually that hard to make.
When a pie with a lattice topping is cooked, the topping crisps, along with the exposed parts of the pie. Lattice topped pies tend to develop more caramelization due to their exposure to direct heat during the cooking process. The topping will also stay crisp and flaky, instead of getting soggy like top pie crusts sometimes do after sitting. Lattice topped pies also have an attractive look, and many people associate them with old-fashioned baking. They go especially well with berry pies like blackberry and strawberry rhubarb, and lattice topping is also a classic choice for cherry pie.
To make lattice topping, the cook creates pie dough as he or she would normally and rolls it out into a roughly round shape before cutting into strips. A lattice cutter can assist with this task, by keeping the strips even so that the pie will look uniform. Some cooks also use a lattice cutting stamp, which punches out a lattice design in a single sheet of pie dough, rather than creating strips which must be woven.
The strips of dough are carefully layered over the pie filling and pinched to crimp them to the edges of the bottom crust. Weaving a lattice topping takes more time, but it yields a more pleasant looking result. After the lattice topping has been attached, it may be brushed with egg for a glossy finish, or sprinkled with sugar in some cases for extra sweetness. As it bakes, the lattice topping will turn a rich, golden brown.
For an extra-flaky lattice topping, cooks can used layered pastry dough or phyllo dough. Making lattice topping with strips of phyllo dough can be tricky, but the end result will be a lacy pie topping which essentially melts in the mouth of the consumer. Lattice toppings pair beautifully with wide range of pie fillings, although lumpy or discolored fillings can look slightly odd with a lattice topping.