HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Do you create unique foods? Get great advice

Pie Crust top crust designs, any family traditions?

Kevin Andrew Murphy Jan 25, 2007 08:43 PM

I just made three pies last night, remembering my grandmother who'd taught me how to make pie crust years ago. One other thing she'd taught me was how to make a design with the vents on the crust. Rather than making a cross or star, she'd draw three wavy lines coming down close together at the bottom, then cut vents on each side, angled like the vanes of feathers or the individual grains of wheat. Then she'd add a small line for the ground and told me, "Other people do stars and such, but this is what my mother taught me, and her mother before. In fact, this pattern is what all the ladies in neighborhood did."

The neighborhood, in this case, would have been Eddyville, Iowa, circa 1930.

That was of course as a kid, but as I got older, and saw a bit more, I realized the pattern was a stylized wheat sheaf or maybe a three feathers motif. It's very beautiful and also has the feeling of being very old, something I could easily see a pioneer woman making, or in colonial days, or in some old Dutch master's still life, or even on a medieval table or before.

Anyone have any particular patterns they were taught to make, any family traditions?

  1. doctor_mama Jan 26, 2007 05:29 AM

    This isn't a family tradition, but--

    My sister-in-law's husband is a pie-baking whiz. During an October 2004 visit to them we went apple-picking and he made pie from the apples we picked. The Red Sox were about to face the Yankees for the AL champoinship.

    He vented the pie by cutting slits that said "Go Sox." I'm convinced to this day that's why they won the World Series.

    1 Reply
    1. re: doctor_mama
      macca Jan 26, 2007 06:30 AM

      Great story- but I with your BIL had made some pies before our Patriots played the Colts!!
      Back to the food- My grantmother always made leaves out of pir crust, and put them on the top of the pies. Than an egg wash and sprinkle of sugar. I still do this!! Also- every Thanksgiving, I make one of my nephews his oen apple pie to take home ( ho LOVES apple pie). i carve his initial out of the pie crust trimmings, and pop it on the top.

    2. Allstonian Jan 26, 2007 08:02 AM

      My high school boyfriend's grandmother made apple and mince pies for Thanksgiving. She cut "TM" in the crust of the mince pies for " 'Tis Mince," and "TM" in the crust of the apple pies for " 'Tisn't Mince."

      1 Reply
      1. re: Allstonian
        nlgardener Aug 8, 2012 11:53 AM

        So "TM" for both pies? Just a small prank?

      2. Kajikit Jan 26, 2007 08:47 AM

        I always make a leafy pietop decoration out of the piecrust trimmings then make them into a rosette with the airhole in the center. I'm not artistic and leaves are the only thing I can't screw up! :P

        1. Katie Nell Jan 26, 2007 09:05 AM

          Generally, my mom does leaves... I'll have to ask her what my great grandma used to do, because she was the pie baker of the family before my mom was. If around Valentine's Day, she would probably do hearts.

          1. c
            Cookiecd Aug 8, 2012 11:46 AM

            I currently live in the Kansas City area born in Oskaloosa, IA near Eddyville. I picked up a free publication called Taste Bud at the grocery and noticed a picture of a pie on the cover used the same vent pattern that my grandmother used and my mother and i use. It caught my curiosity and I looked up "pie crust vent patterns" and found your website. As I read your post i was amazed to read that it came from Eddyville. My grandmother was born within a few miles of there in 1895. My mother has baked thousands of pies with that pattern. Do you have any more information I found this most interesting.

            1. blue room Aug 8, 2012 12:37 PM

              Every Thanksgiving!

              Show Hidden Posts