The Washington Post

Painted Cutouts for Topping Pies

Painted Cutouts for Topping Pies 8.000

Mark Weinberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Erin Jeanne McDowell

Nov 18, 2020

You may think these pie topping cutouts are fancy, but if you can press out shapes with cookie cutters and use a paint brush, you can make this pie topping, which looks far more impressive than the skills needed to make it. If you can, use gel food color for the most vivid hues on your cutouts. This pie topping technique uses this All-Butter Pie Crust recipe.

Make Ahead: The cutouts need to be baked and completely cooled before use.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings; makes enough for one 9-inch pie crust

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting the counter
  • 1 recipe All-Butter Pie Crust, shaped into a disk and chilled for at least 30 minutes (see related recipe)
  • Gel food coloring, as needed (gel color will be stronger than liquid, which may need less vodka or it can become diluted)
  • Vodka, as needed

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Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter or pie stamp, cut as many cutouts out of the dough as you can. Transfer the cutouts to the prepared baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes. (You can use the scraps to re-roll up to 2 additional times to get more cutouts.)

While the dough chills, position a baking rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine a few drops of the food coloring (if you're using gel, you only need about 1/8 teaspoon) and 1 to 2 teaspoons of vodka and, using a small craft paintbrush, mix to combine. Repeat as desired if you're aiming for multiple colors.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and uncover. Using the brush, apply the "paint" to the surface of the pie dough.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the dough appears golden brown on the base (use a small offset spatula to gently lift the dough to check the bottom); the timing will depend on the size of your cutouts. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

The cutouts can be used to decorate the top of a cooled pie as desired — or placed on a warm pie just from the oven (in this case, they tend to "stick" to the filling a bit better, which can allow for easier slicing).

Recipe Source

From cookbook author and recipe developer Erin Jeanne McDowell.

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (using approximately 3/4 the dough): 128

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 8g 12%

Saturated Fat: 5g 25%

Cholesterol: 23mg 8%

Sodium: 56mg 2%

Total Carbohydrates: 11g 4%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 0g

Protein: 2g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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