Oct 12, 2010

How to Make Store-Bought Pie Crust Taste Better

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Now, before we begin, let’s just get one thing straight right now. I’m not typically a store-bought pie crust kind of lady. I stand by my favorite pie crust recipe with the same enthusiasm normally reserved for my Thursday night Us Weekly-reading ritual. I’m of the school of thought that it’s so easy and so far tastier to make your own crust from scratch, that’s there’s really no reason not to. Except hey–maybe there is.

Because maybe you’re the sort of person who, despite being poked and prodded, will just never have the desire to make a scratch crust. Or perhaps you have a general fear of the “everything must be freezing cold during the process lest you be swallowed up by the Earth” rules of pie crust making. Maybe trying to roll a perfect circle of even thickness gives you the sweats (I feel you, dear reader). Or maybe you’ve been asked to bring dessert to something at the last possible moment and every minute counts. Whatever your reasoning for not making a scratch crust, I’m here for you. And I bring with me some fancy tips for making ready-made pie crust taste a heck of a lot less like the package it comes in.


First, what you want to do is find yourself a nice, crunchy, neutral-flavored cookie. Something not terribly sweet. Graham crackers, animal crackers and little wafer cookies all work well. Throw a few handfuls of cookies and some granulated sugar into a food processor (about 3 parts cookies to 1 part sugar), and grind until fine. Depending on how you’re using the crust, you can even get fancy and toss in a little cinnamon or something. Then generously sprinkle this magical cookie dust mixture on your work surface in place of flour as you roll it out a bit with a rolling pin. It adds all sorts of great flavor and texture to the finished crust. And as a nice bonus, it adds a little barrier between the filling and the crust to keep it from getting all soggy.

To add even more pizazz and a touch of richness, you can brush it lightly with butter after you fit the bottom crust into the pan, and then brush a bit more butter on the top crust. But it’s really the cookie dust that does the trick in eliminating that sort of waxy mouthfeel and one-note flavor that store-bought crusts usually have.

And now you really have no excuse to avoid pie-making during this fine apple season. Hooray!

Jazzed-Up Store-Bought Pie Crust

Any crisp, lightly sweetened, relatively neutral-tasting cookies will work here. I particularly like animal crackers and thin wafer cookies. Feel free to add a bit of spice according to what kind of pie you’re making to bump up the flavor even more. Brushing a bit of melted butter on the rolled crusts can give a nice richness if that’s what you’re after.

Makes 1 double-crust pie

1 cup crisp, lightly sweetened cookies (see note)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional–see note)
1 15-ounce box refrigerated pie crust (2 single crusts), softened according to package directions
2 tablespoons butter, melted (optional–see note)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cookies and the sugar and cinnamon, if using. Process until very finely ground. Dust a work surface generously with the cookie dust. Carefully unroll one of the pie crusts onto the work surface and sprinkle with more cookie dust. Use a rolling pin to roll the crust slightly thinner and press some of the cookie dust into the dough.

Fit the pie crust into the desired pan. For a slightly richer tasting crust, brush lightly with melted butter. Refrigerate until firm before filling the crust as desired.

Repeat the dusting and rolling process with the second crust, and drape it over the pie filling. Crimp the top and bottom crusts together. Brush the top crust lightly with melted butter. Chill for 10 minutes before baking according to the pie recipe you’re using.

16 Comments

  • Oh man, this is SO right up my alley. I am definitely in the "never have the desire to make crust" camp, but I do love me a good apple pie. Thanks!

  • Thanks Shauna for sharing this idea!

  • Some really great ideas/ Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow, you're totally speaking to me! I love making everything from scratch, but had some awful crust experiences back in my "every baked good must be lightened" phase (many, many years ago :) I'm talkin' crumbly, dry, cracked when it was rolled. So I avoid making pies b/c I hate using store-bought crust. Or better yet, I make everything into a graham cracker crust! I will definitely try this trick, but I will also try to make some of the foolproof crust recipes I've saved– you've inspired me!

  • That's an awesome idea! Thank you a lot, you always give the best tips!!

    -Amalia

    http://buttersweetmelody.wordpress.com/

  • I have the smallest kitchen and don't have a food processor or a rolling pin so making pie crust intimidates me.
    I usually buy a ready made pie crust from Whole Foods and line the inside with a thin layer of filo dough and that tastes amazing. This cookie dust sounds too magical not to try :)
    Thanks for the tip!

  • Great tip–thanks for sharing! Although, I've gotta say, storebought crusts in France are something else compared to their US counterparts!

  • Thanks for the tip! This sounds like it would really add flavor to the pie crust!

  • I usually make my own pie crust, but I'm certainly going to try sprinkling that mixture on next time. Right now I'm dreaming of blending homemade grahams with maple sugar!

    Cheers and thanks for the idea,

    *Heather*

  • Is this related to the "magic cookie dust" that you learned about at Chez Panisse? (Great video, by the way!)

  • Laura S–You know, I didn't even think about that! You are right though, in the Chez Panisse kitchen they use ground-up cookies to create what they call "moondust" which they sprinkle on a lot of their fruit tarts. Of course, they'd never use store-bought pie crust, so I think in their case, it's more of a moisture barrier than a flavor booster. :)

  • What a fresh idea! i would definitely wanna try this soon. Thanks for sharing!

  • yep, that perfect circle = the sweats scenario, that's me! So until I find my inner "Lion" (think Wizard of Oz)this option will do nicely. And as usual you have swooped in to save the day just before the Holiday frenzy sets in. :-) Thank you!

  • perfect for me. i am not a scratch crust girl. lazy is where it's at for me. no excuses.
    I am all about jazzing up the perfectly round pie crust..great tips!

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