Meet Ragmuffins, the No-Waste Way to Enjoy Every Bit of Pie Crust
I grew up learning at the hip of one of the great pie makers — my great-grandmother. Nanny, as I called her, gifted me her pie dough recipe and what to do with the dough leavings once the crust is cut.
Ragmuffins are made by rolling out all the little scraps of leftover dough, smearing them with room temperature butter and dusting them with brown sugar. There is more excitement in my house about Ragmuffins than any pie I might be baking. They are bite-sized pieces of delicious.
Nanny grew up during the Great Depression, and the lessons of that time of want were etched into her being. She never wasted anything.
There was always a heavy stock of preserves, pickles, and cured meats in her pantry. I did not appreciate this thriftiness as a teenager, but later when I was a poor, single mother struggling to put food on the plate, those lessons were gold.
One of the things we regularly made was pie. There were huge stalks of rhubarb planted outside the house and rows of strawberries in the garden. The best, though, were the wild blackberries covering the trail leading to the grazing pasture. They were thorny, but delicious.
We were making pies for the church bake sale when Nanny taught me the secret to ragmuffins. I got out my kitchen stool and watched her begin to do her magic. She never had anything written down; it was all in her head. She knew exactly how much flour to pull from the canister, how much cold, sweet, freshly-churned butter to pull out of the mason jar and just the perfect amount of clean water from the well to drip onto the now-forming ball. She rolled her dough ball up and set it in a bowl in the fridge to rest.
After what seemed an eternity, we retrieved the dough and rolled it out, I with my pint-sized rolling pin and her with her hefty oaken one. Clouds of flour and laughter would swirl around us as we diligently rolled out our disks on Nanny's old yellow Formica-topped kitchen table.
Recipe to Try: Easy Homemade Pie Crust
Nanny loved a lattice crust and taught me how to weave the perfect one. After popping the pies in the oven, she gathered up all the dough leavings, and I thought she would throw them away.
I should have known better. She rolled them back out and spread some fresh butter and then dusted them with dark brown sugar. She rolled them up like a jelly roll. I was intrigued. Next, she cut little pinwheels and put them on a baking sheet rimmed with parchment paper. She popped them in the oven with the pies and ten minutes later, they were ragmuffins.
We took our sweet treat out to the porch for our afternoon tea party, a ritual with us. We would set up my little ivory plastic tea set on the porch in front of the old swing. Nanny "brewed" a pot of Earl Grey Tea for refreshment. (Really it was apple juice, but we never divulged our secret.) Then we would sit on the porch and look at the trees to see what faces we could spot in their leaves, or talk about what needed tending in the garden, or whatever else struck our fancy on a lazy summer afternoon.
The ragmuffins that day long ago were delicious, like everything else I experienced at Nanny's house: flaky in the right spots, gooey in the right spots and perfectly sweet. Climbing the crabapple tree over the barn, growing sunflowers in old tractor tires, and white elephant sales at the church all contributed to the recipe of me. I make ragmuffins today in Nanny's honor. I always make them with my pie dough leavings, just like Nanny taught me, and they are an everlasting hit. The kids know when they see the rolling pin come out they will be dining on Nanny's ragmuffins for breakfast. Perfect with a cup of earl gray tea, or apple juice.
What to Do With Leftover Crust
Ragmuffins are my family's favorite way to use up leftover dough, but here are some other ideas if you are game.
Hand Pies are one of my favorites. You can make them with fruit fillings, vegetable fillings, or even like mini pot pies. Start with these Apple Hand Pies.
Galettes are a delicious, very easy dessert or savory item. Try these Summer Fruit Galettes.
Slab Pie is another easy way to use less than half a dough batch. Browse these 10 Slab Pie Recipes.