Friday, April 22, 2022

My Edge.

I often come up with my own knitting methods instead of using traditional ones, and picking up & working edge stitches is no exception. The traditional method works well for sweaters, but I don’t think it’s the best method for socks. 

In this post I will cover the following:

  • Brief review & recommended tutorials for traditional method of picking up and knitting edge sts
  • Tutorial for my method, and why I prefer it to the traditional one
  • Details specific to working flap & turn heels from the toe up, like JSPH (Jeny's Square Peg Heel)

I will start with a brief word about the last point above, because JSPH has completely transformed the way I think about working edge sts. If you’re working a flap & turn heel from the toe up, picking up and knitting the flap edge stitches is only part of the picture. You also have to pick up and purl on the opposite side of the flap, and also work decreases with picked up sts on the first row. Neither of these is hard to do, just slightly fussy.

If you prefer learning by video rather than still images, I made this video just for you. 

0:00 - Pick up and knit
4:23 - Pick up and purl
6:58 - Working decreases with picked up sts 

Traditional Method

Here is an example photo of what the traditional method of picking up and knitting sts looks like worked in stockinette, RS and WS.

There are lots of tutorials available on the internet on “How to pick up and knit edge stitches.” These generally all demonstrate the same method. I personally recommend this photo tutorial on Modern Daily Knitting written by Kate Atherley, and this illustrated tutorial by TECHknitter (“Added Yarn Method” section). Bear in mind that with socks, it’s not necessary to skip every 2nd or 3rd stitch as you would need to do if you were making a sweater or large garment. 

My Method

Let me explain why I don’t use the traditional method when I’m making socks. Look closely at the photos above. The RS looks ok, but on the WS you can see there is a prominent seam. This is fine for sweaters, but for socks it is potentially uncomfortable. 

Whereas, this is what I get when I do it my way:

Viewed from the RS, the two methods just look a little different.

But, viewed from the WS, you can see that my method eliminates the bulk of the seam.

I do think the traditional method looks nicer on the inside than mine does. But if it's on the inside, I'm much more concerned about comfort than I am about appearance. 

There are two key structural differences between my method and the traditional one: 1) I pick up and work through only the outside leg of the edge stitch, rather than both legs; 2) I twist the leg in a particular way as I work it. 

Tutorials on the traditional method often state that working edge stitches through both legs makes the joint more secure, but that's not necessarily the case. The real game changer is to twist the picked up leg as you work it. 

Let’s zoom out for a minute...

See how the traditional method is taller at the joint? And the gauge of the new sts (off-white) is slightly expanded right there? And the edge sts (purple) pooch out a little bit? These are all subtle indicators that the traditional method is looser and therefore less secure than mine. Again I’m sure it works well for sweaters, but for socks I think my method works better.

Tutorial - My method

Here is what the flap looks like just before I start working edge stitches. The example shows a sock heel sample. The colors indicate different parts: the purple section represents the foot, the blue section is the flap, and the magenta working yarn represents the first row of edge stitches. Rows begin and end in the middle of the flap.

It's easier to see the stitches on the WS. There are exactly 12 edge stitches that I'm going to pick up, numbered 1-12  below. Stitch #1 is immediately below the last stitch worked, and stitch #12 is actually below the first turn of the flap; the color change indicates that this stitch was worked in the round. 

The stitches can each be picked up and immediately worked, or you can pick them all up first and then work them. I personally prefer to pick them all up before working any of them. I start at #12 and work my way up to #1, but the direction of pickup doesn't matter.

To pick up: I insert the R needle into the middle of the edge stitch, then continue to the next. I typically use a needle 1-2 sizes smaller, because these can be tight.

The resulting row of sts will sit on the R needle just like normal stitches, leading with right leg in front.

Once the stitches are all picked up, knit each one through the back leg. (Note that stitch #1 has been worked once already.) This will twist each stitch and tighten up the joint.  

*Note that if you are working a toe-up flap & turn heel, there will be an ssk at the end of the row. This decrease and the p2tog on the other side are worked a little differently from normal. This is discussed in more detail in the last section.

The picked up stitches can be twisted either way, but I prefer the look of them when they are twisted as described above. Below is a comparison example - the stitches on the right half were twisted in the other direction. These are slightly looser and  more prominent. 

Toe up flap & turn heels 

So far I’ve given you everything you need to know for using my edge stitch method with a standard cuff down flap & turn heel. For working toe up, there are some remaining details to cover.

Picking up and purling

(Jump to 4:23 in my video)

Picking up and purling is slightly trickier than picking up and knitting, but it is not difficult. I find it easiest to hold the flap WS facing me with the edge at the bottom, then rotate it in order to work the purls. Note that even though you have worked down and back from the other side, there are the same number of rows on this side from which you will pick up stitches. Once again, stitch #1 is immediately below the one just worked, and stitch #12 was worked in the round just below the flap.

To pick up: I insert the R needle into each edge stitch, then continue to the next. 

This time, the stitches sit on the needle in the opposite direction, leading with the right leg in back.

Now purl each stitch through its front (left) loop. When you turn it to the RS, you will see that the picked up stitches twist in the opposite direction as those on the other side of the flap. 

Working decreases with picked up stitches

(Jump to 6:58 in my video)

If you are working a toe up flap & turn heel, your first RS and WS row of the heel back are worked as you are simultaneously picking up and working sts. This calls for a bit of jiggery-pokery.

In both cases, if you work the decrease normally you will get a hole. This is what the ssk would look like if worked normally:

So in order to hide this hole, you will twist only the front stitch. When working the ssk, slip the first st purlwise so that it still sits on the needle leading with right leg in front. Slip the next st knitwise. Now both sts lean towards each other on the back side of the needle. 

Slip both sts back to the L needle purlwise, then k2 tbl. The resulting decrease twists to the left, just like all the other edge sts that were picked up and knitted (tbl).

To work the adjusted decrease on the purl side, you do something very similar. Both sts are already in the position you need -- they lean towards each other on the front side of the needle. 

With the sts in this position, work a p2tog. When you turn back to the RS, you will see that this decrease now twists to the right, matching the other edge sts.

I work these adjusted decreases on the first rows only; for subsequent rows I work regular ssk's and p2tog's. 

Thanks for reading! 


Saturday, April 2, 2022

Jeny's Square Peg Heel

Meet Jeny's Square Peg Heel, or JSPH. Because I am nothing if not a square peg!

JSPH is an original variation on a traditional square heel. But before I dive into the details of JSPH and why I think it's so cool, I need to start with this... 

There is no such thing as a cuff down heel. Just about every book, video tutorial or blog post about sock knitting classifies standard heels into cuff down or toe up. But any heel that can be worked from one direction can also be worked from the other, it just takes a little reverse engineering. I enjoy knitting socks all kinds of ways, and I won’t let any part of the sock constrain me on how I work. Because I am the boss of my knitting.


Flap & turn heels in particular are thought to be cuff down only. When you work a flap & turn heel traditionally, a "heel flap" is worked in the back, then turned at the bottom. But if you work from the toe up, the term "heel flap" becomes imprecise, as I will demonstrate shortly. So for this post, I am using the following terminology for flap & turn heel anatomy: 

  • Gusset (purple) - Where more stitches accommodate the widest part of the foot/ankle.
  • Heel Back (red) - Goes around the back of the heel.
  • Sole (blue) - Goes under the weight bearing area of the heel.

The remainder of this post consists of two sections:

  • Tutorial on working my basic square heel from the toe up.
  • Tutorials on working JSPH from both directions.  

Gauge & Sizing

All instructions below are based on standard sock gauge of 32 sts x 44 rows = 4" in stockinette using fingering weight yarn on US size 1 needles. Stitch counts conform to standard sizes XS[S, M, L, XL] in which unstretched sock circumference is 6[7, 8, 9, 10] inches.

Section 1: Basic square heel, toe up

When working a square heel using the traditional cuff down method, first you work a flap, and then you turn it at the base. Hence the name "flap & turn." Then you pick up sts along the sides of the flap and work gusset decreases in the round. 

Toe up, you simply work in the opposite order:

1. Increase by the number of desired gusset sts.
2. Work the sole as a flap.
3. Pick up the edge sts around the sole flap, then work back-and-forth across the heel back, working the last stitch on each side with a gusset stitch on each turn. 

Hopefully you can see now why I want to avoid using the term "heel flap." It's used to describe the flap worked at the back of the heel. However, when you work toe up, the sole is the flap, and the heel back is the turn. 

The traditional proportions for the Dutch/square heel are 1/2 of total stitches for the back of the heel, and 1/3 of those stitches for the sole. This creates a small gusset and a narrow band at the sole, like this. 

 Source: Folk Socks, Nancy Bush (Interweave Press, 1994). 

I personally prefer to work my sole over 2/3 of the heel back. This simple change improves the fit greatly IMO; the sole (blue) is now the same width as the weight-bearing part of my heel, and it leaves more room in the gusset.

If you work a flap & turn heel from the toe up, you have to know how many stitches and rows you'll need in the different parts of the heel before you knit it. So I’ve put together a chart with the numbers you'll need. (Note this is not a custom fit worksheet. For custom fit socks, Kate Atherley is your guru.)

Click on the chart to see a larger image.


Detailed instructions 

1. Work the gusset increases

It's up to you to determine where to begin your gusset increases. I start mine at about the middle of my arch.

Starting with 48[56, 64, 72, 80] sts, increase by 2 sts every other round until you have increased by 9[10, 11, 12, 13] sts on each side of the sock.  

2. Work the sole as a flap.

Select the desired location for the sole of the foot. From the center of this location, k 8[9, 10, 11, 12] sts, turn. Sl 1 pw, p 15[17, 19, 21, 23] sts, turn. 

Black: foot. Purple: Gusset. Blue: sole flap.

Work the sole flap back and forth over a total of 8[10, 12, 14, 16] rows. You should be able to count 4[5, 6, 7, 8] sts along each edge of the flap, starting 1 row below the live sts on the needle, up to & including in the last full round below the flap. 

For a detailed tutorial on how I pick up and work the edge stitches of a heel flap, please see this companion post on my blog.  

Stitches along the RS left edge. The purple stitch is from the last round worked before the flap. This sole flap is 8 rows high. 

3. Work the heel back.

Pick up and knit tbl 4[5, 6, 7, 8] sts along the RS left edge of the sole flap, working the last into an ssk with the adjacent gusset stitch to its left, turn. Sl 1 pw, purl back to other edge of the sole flap, pick up and purl 4[5, 6, 7, 8] sts along WS left edge, working the last into a p2tog with the adjacent gusset stitch, turn.

* Pro-tip #1: The ssk and p2tog on this first set of turns will each have a gap if you work them traditionally. For the ssk, slip the first st pw instead of kw. For the p2tog, slip the first st kw, then slip back to left needle and p2tog. In both cases this twists the leading stitch and hides the gap.

The image below shows stitches picked up along the R edge of the sole flap (viewed from RS). Note how the sts lean the opposite way from normal. When you purl these sts (from the WS) they will twist in the opposite direction as the sts on the other side of the flap. 

Now that you have incorporated the sts along both sides of the sole flap, work back and forth across the heel back, each time ending with an ssk (RS) or p2tog (WS), until you have decreased all the gusset sts you created earlier and you have returned to your original stitch count of 48[56, 64, 72, 80] sts. The heel is now complete and you can resume working in the round. 

* Pro-tip #2: To avoid having a gap at the top of the heel back on the right side, after you work the last ssk, continue working around the front of the sock, and work that last decrease as a k2tog from the RS. In the image below, do a k2tog into the first 2 sts on the L needle.

* Pro-tip #3: I always get loose stitches on the left side of my heel back. To help with this, I use the hungry stitch method to tighten up this side. Even after using hungry stitch, I still manually distribute the slack across the rows as needed. In the photo below, the stitches in the lower half of the heel back have been manually adjusted, and those in the upper half have not. 

Section 2: Jeny’s Square Peg Heel (JSPH)

JSPH morphs and moves around the parts of the square heel and yet somehow ends up with a fit that is identical to the wide turn heel described just above. I really enjoy coming up with designs and techniques that seem like they can't possibly work, but then they do! JSPH is like that. 

If you look at the JSPH sample next to my square heel, you can see that the sections of the heel have different shapes and positions, but still have the same fit.

Left: My square heel. Right: JSPH.

With JSPH, the gusset is worked above the heel, rather than as part of the foot. Because of this structure, JSPH gives you design opportunities you wouldn't have with a standard flap & turn heel. Brenda Dayne's Funky Grandpa socks below demonstrate this nicely. Because the gusset is worked above the heel turn, the stripes worked in the round can extend an additional 2" further down compared with a traditional square heel.  

(c) Brenda Dayne, 2022.

JSPH can be worked either toe up or cuff down. Let’s continue with the toe up direction for now, because the method is similar to that of my basic toe up square heel.  Below is the chart you can use for finding your JSPH size and numbers. This chart applies to working either cuff down or toe up. 

Click on the chart to see a larger image.

JSPH Toe up

The basic method for working JSPH toe up is the same as the basic square heel, except that working the gusset now happens last, and is worked in decreases rather than increases. And of course the shapes of the heel back and sole are quite different. Please refer to the previous section for images of working a sole flap, picking up edge stitches, or the pro-tips.

1. Work the sole turn as a flap.

Work the foot over 48[56, 64, 72, 80] sts until you would normally begin working gusset increases (for me, this is about the middle of the arch). Select the desired location for the sole. From the center of this location, k 8[9, 10, 11, 12] sts, turn. Sl 1 pw, p 15[17, 19, 21, 23] sts, turn.

Work the sole flap back and forth until you can count 13[15, 17, 19, 21] sts along the RS left edge of the flap, starting 1 row below the live sts on the needle, up to & including in the last full round below the flap. 

2. Work the heel back

Pick up and knit tbl 13[15, 17, 19, 21] sts along the RS left edge of the sole flap, working the last into an ssk with the adjacent gusset stitch to its left, turn. Sl 1 pw, purl back to other edge of the sole flap, pick up and purl 13[15, 17, 19, 21] sts along WS left edge, working the last into a p2tog with the adjacent gusset stitch, turn.

* Pro-tip #1: See above.

Work back and forth from edge to edge, each time ending with an ssk (RS) or p2tog (WS), until you have decreased by 4[5, 6, 7, 8] sts on each side. Your heel back will be a total of 8[10, 12, 14, 16] rows high. 

* Pro-tips #2 & 3: See above.

3. Work the gusset decreases

Working in the round, decrease by 2 sts every other round until you have returned to your starting stitch count of 48[56, 64, 72, 80] sts. 

JSPH Cuff down

This method is essentially the same as working a standard flap and turn heel except 1) you work the gusset first, as part of the leg, and 2) the shapes of the heel back and sole are very different!  

1. Work the gusset increases

Starting with 48[56, 64, 72, 80] sts, work the leg to the point where you would normally start working the flap for the heel back. Instead, work the gusset. Increase by 2 sts every other round until you have increased by 9[10, 11, 12, 13] sts on each side. 

2. Work the heel back (flap)

From the center of the heel back, k [24, 27, 30, 33]  sts, turn. Sl 1 pw, p 41[47, 53, 59, 65], turn. Continue working the flap from edge to edge until you have worked a total of  8[10, 12, 14, 16] rows. You should be able to count 4[5, 6, 7, 8] sts along the RS left edge of the flap, starting 1 row below the live sts on the needle, up to & including in the last full round below the flap.

3. Work the sole

Work to the halfway point of the flap, then k 7[8, 9, 10, 11], ssk, turn. Sl 1 pw, p 14[16, 18, 20, 22], p2tog. Work back and forth, each time decreasing the last sole st into the flap, until you have integrated all the flap sts into the sole.

* Pro-tip #3: See above.

From the present location of the working yarn, pick up and knit 4[5, 6, 7, 8] edge sts along the heel back flap, k across the front of the foot to the other flap edge, then pick up and knit another 4[5, 6, 7, 8] sts. Your present stitch count should now be your original 48[56, 64, 72, 80], and you can continue working the foot in the round.

You made it to the end! 

Congratulations! Now, would you like to hear something else fun?

Epilogue. If you take any heel + gusset assembly and work it upside down in your sock pattern (i.e., work a supposedly "cuff down" heel and gusset from the toe up), it's likely it will fit you just as well as if worked as instructed. You may have already noticed that JSPH visually resembles a square heel flipped upside down. The pictures below show that both of these heel structures fit me equally well worn upside-down or upside-up.

Left: My square heel.   Right: JSPH.
Worn upside-down:

Worn upside-up:

I dare you to play with this. Welcome to my sandbox! 

Please stay tuned for upcoming designs featuring this heel structure, there are several in the works.  

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Stretchy Cast Ons!

Do you have a knitting BFF? I do, and her name is Brenda Dayne. 💕 Despite being separated by 8 time zones and almost 5,000 miles, Brenda and I often find time to text and videochat about knitting. She has been podcasting about knitting for many years, long before we met in person. This week she and I get into the nitty gritty of stretchy cast ons. We discussed the three methods below in particular. For details on each, listen to our conversation on the latest episode of her podcast, Cast On.  All of her episodes are available at

There are many videos online about these techniques. Note that the way I do #2 and #3 is a little different from the standard method.

  1. Slip Knot Cast On (known by many names, but still just a series of slip knots.)
    My video from 2009 is here.
    Hand's Occupied's take on my method is here. A great interpretation of what I originally did.
    Janel Laidman Vaisbort's video is here - structure is slightly different than mine, and a little easier to tighten.
  2. Long Tail Cast On my way is here
  3. German Twisted Cast On my way is here

Soon I will be sharing with you a new heel design I have come up with recently, affectionately named "Jeny's Square Peg Heel" or JSPH for short. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 17, 2022

My Pie.

Everyone has their own favorite way of making pie, especially the crust. I believe that a pie maker should follow whatever method they most enjoy. The most important thing is to have fun! The method documented below is what is most fun for me. It just happens to also look and taste awesome.

In brief, this is what I do. Note that some parts of my process defy traditional methods.
  • I make an all butter crust; butter is integrated in two separate steps using different mixing methods.
  • When cutting in the butter, I leave the chunks large (marble-sized). 
  • Ice water is mixed in by hand, not in the food processor.
  • Crust can be rested and then rolled, or rolled and then rested; order doesn’t matter. (Some bakers think this is heresy, but it works for me.)
  • Crust is rolled out between sheets of plastic wrap, not on a floured surface.

And now in not-brief, here is my definitive process of making pie.

What makes a flaky crust:
The primary thing to many pie bakers and eaters, and possibly the most contentious, is how one achieves the perfect balance of tenderness, flakiness, and taste. Many people swear by a combination of fats — part butter and part Crisco or lard. Here I can offer a food-science explanation for why a combination of fats typically results in a flaky crust, and some different ways to achieve that.

One of the keys to making a pie crust that is crispy and flaky is not what specific combination of fats you use, but rather the result of how those different fats disperse when you cut them into the flour. Cold butter stays in firm chunks, whereas Crisco/lard will quickly disperse and coat the individual flour grains. The combination of fat-coated flour grains and firm chunks of fat is the goal. But it’s not necessary to use multiple different fats to get this effect. I've identified three different ways of getting this effect using all butter. 
  • Divide the butter ahead of time, keep most of it cold and let a portion come to room temperature; cut into the flour in one step just as you would butter + Crisco/lard. OR,
  • Keep all the butter cold and add in two separate steps: first blend in a portion completely until the flour grains are coated, then cut in the rest, leaving large chunks. (This is how I do it.) OR,
  • Keep all the butter cold and cut into the flour, leaving large chunks, then rub the mix with your hands until the flour starts to get slightly sticky. 

Pro-tip: cutting in butter using any of these methods also applies to making excellent biscuits and scones.

Note that you’re not limited to Crisco and lard as alternative fats. Duck, beef and lamb fat, to name a few, are also great choices especially for savory pies. Coconut oil would probably be great also, but I haven't tried that.

Here is how I make my crust.

  • 320 g flour (same weight gluten-free or wheat) This is about 2-2 1/2 cups.
  • 1 c unsalted butter (divided into 3/4 c and 1/4 c, cubed & cold)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8-12 Tb ice water
  • (GF only — 1 tsp vinegar. This is recommended by America's Test Kitchen to help with flakiness. I often forget to add it though, and my GF crust still turns out great.)


1. Put the flour, salt, and 1/4 cup of butter into a food processor. Process on high until the flour begins to stick together very slightly as it spins around the bowl. There should be no visual trace of the butter; it should be completely integrated.

2. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 c cold cubed butter into the flour mix. Pulse a few times until you have marble-size chunks. This is larger than what most cooks recommend, but this is what works for me. I prefer to be conservative, and to cut up any too-big pieces later if I deem necessary.

Pro-tip: consider making an extra bag of this flour mix and storing it in the fridge, in the event that you accidentally add too much ice water in the next step. If that happens and you add more plain flour to compensate, your result will not be as good.

3. Pour the flour mix from the food processor into a bowl so that you can mix in the ice water by hand. Mixing by hand gives you much more control over working the dough as little as possible and also maintaining the desired size of the butter chunks. Picture below shows the mix before any water is added.

4. Start with 8 tablespoons of ice water. (If you are making a GF crust, first add the teaspoon of vinegar to this water.) Stir briskly around the periphery of the bowl with a fork, occasionally cutting through the middle of the bowl. This movement should moisten everything evenly with as little working of the mix as possible. Picture below shows the mix with 8 Tb ice water incorporated. Sometimes this is enough for the dough to stick together, but not this time. It looks a little different from the photo just above, but there is not yet enough water in this dough.

5. If after adding 8 Tb of ice water your mix is still a little dry, add another 2-3 Tb. The dough pictured below has the right amount of water for it to stick together when pressed. (For reference, I find that 10 Tb is usually perfect. I never need more than 12 Tb.)

Note that the mix is still “shaggy” — you don’t keep adding water until the dough sticks together, just until it is barely and evenly moistened. (As per pro-tip, if your result is too wet, compensate by adding flour mix from your reserve bag held just for this purpose.)

6. Press the shaggy dough together gently; do not knead or compress into a firm ball. Cut into 2 roughly equally sized pieces. (If you are making hand pies, one batch of dough makes eight equally sized pieces, probably about 85 g apiece.)  Picture below shows 1/2 of the dough, after it is cut into 2 pieces.

7. Press each of these into a round flat disc about 1/2 inch thick on a piece of plastic wrap, seal and rest in the fridge for an hour or so. Picture shows a tablespoon for scale. Note the spotty surface -- these are the chunks of butter that will melt and leave thin layers of dough, thus creating the sought-after flakiness.

If you choose, you can alternatively roll out right now into the final size and shape, so long as the butter is still cold and firm. If you roll first, you will need to rest in the fridge afterwards. 

Resting the dough: This is an important step. The dough needs at least an hour of rest in the refrigerator, either before or after rolling. If it’s a wheat crust, the resting time helps the gluten to relax after mixing/rolling, which yields a more tender result. If it’s a GF crust, it needs time to absorb the moisture in the dough because the grains in GF flour are less permeable than wheat. In both cases, keeping the dough cold is important because that keeps the butter firm, which is key to a flaky crust. 

Rolling the dough: Make sure you lay out enough plastic wrap to accommodate the final size and shape you want (it may be multiple sheets wide for a full size pie). As cracks form along the edge, compress them together using the plastic wrap to apply pressure. The plastic wrap may tear as you roll it; peel and replace as necessary. 

Pictures below show a small piece of dough for a 2-crust mini tart. As you begin to roll, cracks will inevitably form along the edge. 

Below: Fold the plastic wrap over the cracked area and compress; then unfold and continue rolling. Repeat folding, compressing, and unfolding as necessary.

Below: The crust rolled out, cracked edges smoothed and compressed. Those large spots of butter are exactly what will give you a nice flaky crust!

Once rolled and rested, place into the pie plate as follows:

1. Remove one side of plastic wrap and set gently back on top.

2. Flip over, remove the other side of the plastic wrap.

3. Plastic side up, position the crust centered over your pie plate and press into the sides. Do this gently; the more pressure you apply when pressing into the plate, the tighter the plastic will adhere to the surface, the softer your dough will get, and the trickier it will be to remove the plastic without tearing the dough.

4. Carefully remove remaining plastic wrap.

Then, fill as desired. If you’re making a double crust pie, repeat the above steps with the top crust. Crimp sides as you wish. Make sure to cut vents in the top so the sides don’t blow apart.

Here is what I do for my apple pie filling.

Apple filling ingredients:
  • 5 medium sized apples, a combination of Granny Smith and some other firm high acid variety like Honeycrisp
  • 1/2 c white or brown sugar
  • 32 g flour (about 1/3 to 1/2 the volume of sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 Tb melted butter

Optional add-ins: 1/2 tsp salt, other spices like ground cardamom, coriander, or cloves, or even savory spices like red pepper or paprika. You can also add sharp cheese, or a custard or frangipani filling. Fresh halved cranberries is one of my favorite add-ins.


1. Apple pieces should be medium-thin; first peel and quarter the apples, then cut each quarter into 4-5 slices.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. It’s important to do this before you add to the apples, otherwise you might get clumps of flour.

3. Add the sugar mix to the apples and stir. Add the lemon juice, then the melted butter. Arrange the apples inside the bottom crust as desired.

4. Top with the second crust, crimp sides, cut vents, finish surface as desired. I like to dust with granulated sugar, and I don’t bother with egg wash.

5. Place in the lower third of the oven, bake at 375° with convection on for a total of 50 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking process. The pie is done when you start to see syrupy bubbles coming through the top vents and/or the crust edge. Do not judge by the appearance of the crust. If it’s getting brown but not yet bubbling, try moving it to a lower rack of the oven and/or placing a sheet of foil on top of it.

Note that if you are making a GF crust, I recommend you have some support around the side of the pie plate, because GF pie crust tends to spread over the edge and break off. If your pie plate can slip snugly into a springform pan, that’s perfect. 

Another way to provide support for GF pies is to construct a foil collar and staple it together around the periphery. The picture below shows 4" mini GF tarts in and out of their little makeshift foil pans.


I hope you find this photo-documentation useful in your pie making. I believe we each have our own ways of doing things, and I encourage you to make your pie process your very own. Trust your instincts and have fun!