How To Use Store-Bought Pie Crust To Make Desserts That Aren't Pie
For some of us, there is baking and then there is BAKING. You might indulge in some serious pastry work on a lazy weekend, but that doesn't mean you don't need sweets the rest of the time. So, having some secret weapons in your repertoire is always a good idea, whether it is a super easy recipe that uses mostly pantry ingredients, or a shortcut that makes weekday baking not just possible, but a pleasure. For example, there is no shame in making a cake from a mix and whipping up the fillings and frostings from scratch. Puff pastry can be made at home, but frozen puff pastry available at the supermarket will work just fine.
For me, that secret weapon is store-bought pie crust. If I have a box of these premade, pre-rolled discs of pastry on hand, there is no end to the desserts I can create. And if you are willing to think outside the box, you too can make all sorts of sweet treats in a flash. The best part is how customizable these bakes are, especially great when the people in your house have wildly different tastes.
How to Work With Ready-Made Pie Crust
For starters, some tips about working with refrigerated pie dough:
- If it is frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
- From the fridge, let it sit at room temp for 15 to 20 minutes before unrolling so that you limit cracking.
- Bake hot and fast, around 425 to 450 degrees F is a good temperature for desserts made with pie crust, and most will be done in between 8 to 18 minutes.
- Bake in the center rack of your oven and be sure to rotate pans as you bake.
- Line your baking sheets with either parchment or silicone mats to prevent sticking.
- Ready-made pie crust does not stand up well to re-rolling, so cut out your shapes as close to edges as you can and bake up any scraps by tossing in plain or cinnamon sugar for cook's treat snacks,
- Be sure to let your bakes cool completely before frosting, glazing or filling.
Your yield will always depend on the size of the treats you are making, but for a general sense, you will get about a dozen cookies from one round of dough, four small hand pies, or two large pop tarts or hand pies.
Pie Crust Cookies
Yep, you can make cookies with pie crust. Because truly, a cookie is just a flat sweet baked thing, so with just a tweak or two, that pie crust can become all sorts of wonderful cookies. They can be as simple as just cutting out shapes and dusting with plain or flavored sugar, or a complicated as filled sandwich-style cookies or fancy ones decorated with icing. You are only limited by your imagination.
- If you are planning to make cookies from pie crust, you can use any kind of sugar to add the initial sweet hit you want: powdered sugar, basic granulated, or crunchy raw. Just sprinkle over the top of the dough and give it a light roll with a rolling pin just to gently press the sugar into the surface.
- If you do not want your cookies to puff up, dock the crust (prick the surface lightly) with a fork before cutting your shapes and transferring to your baking sheets.
- You can keep them plain or top with icing, or add sprinkles or other decorations. I particularly love to make sandwich-style cookies, filling them with dollops of Nutella, cookie butter, lemon curd, caramel, or jam. You can also dip them in chocolate and then sprinkle with toasted coconut, nuts, or sprinkles. You can even roll up the dough with fillings for slice-and-bake spiral cookies or palmiers.
Sweet Breakfast and Brunch Treats
Morning meals are extra-special when they include a pastry, whether it is a fancy filled pouch or a nostalgic "homemade" pop tart. You can make these as simple as jam sandwiched between two pieces of crust, sealed around the edges and baked, or as fancy as multiple fillings and frostings or glazes.
- If making pop tarts, dock the top crust with a fork.
- For filled pastries cut a small slit to allow steam to escape.
- Jams and preserves, nut butters, marzipan and chocolate are all good fillings.
- Seal any edges with a light egg wash and then press with a fork or the side of a spoon to prevent fillings from leaking out.
- Use a basic royal icing or lemon glaze to top if you like.
- If you prefer an open-faced style morning pastry, you can put on a thin layer of sliced fruits like apples, pears, peaches or plums, sprinkle with sugar, and crimp the edges before baking.
- For Danish pouches, cut circles of dough, place a small mound of your chosen filling, often a combination of a cheese filling and some sort of fruit, and fold over to enclose before sealing.
Stuffing delicious, sweet fillings into pastry crusts might be one of the most perfect desserts out there, not to mention the easiest.
- You can make them rectangular, triangular or half-moons, and as small or large as you like. Simply cut out either squares or circles of dough, place a small mound of your chosen filling on one half of the dough, place a layer of egg wash the edges of that half, fold it over and seal the edges by crimping with a fork or twisting the dough around the edges. Cut a small slit to allow steam to escape.
- After baking, let cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar, drizzle with chocolate, or cover in glaze.
If you have an air fryer, you might like this recipe for individual Air Fryer Apple Pies.
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