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"Flavored" pie crust?

Do you "flavor" your pie crusts with things like spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)? What about something like rhubarb water? Or chocolate or espresso powder?

Someone was telling me the virtues of doing this, saying essentially it adds a whole new dimension to fruit pies and the like. Blah blah blah ...

Color me skeptical.

You?

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  1. While I would not deny that it offers a whole new dimension to pie crust, it's clear that mixing dill pickle juice into my coffee would offer a whole new dimension - but it's not something I would do.
    IMO, pie crust supports the primary subject of the pie. (e.g. we call a pie made with apples, apple pie) I want a tender flaky crust that unobtrusively contrasts with the luxuriousness of the filling. I don't want a flavored foundation. But, that's simply my personal view on the subject.
    Color me VERY skeptical....

    1. I mostly do this with the crust for savory tarts (herb crusts with fresh rosemary, etc) or lots of black pepper (or chili spices) in the crust for certain chicken tarts, etc. However- I made a BlackBerry pie this summer with an almond flavored crust and it was stunning. I certainly am game to try flavored sweet pie crusts again.

      1. Not exactly flavoring the crust, but I sometimes brush melted dark chocolate over the base of the crust on certain fruit pies. Blackberry and plum come to mind. Yummy!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Leepa

          I slosh some ganache around the bottom and sides of the baked crust for a banana cream pie. Originally I did it to keep the crust from going soggy but it was such a hit I now do it because it would be missed if it weren't there.

          But that's a different thing than flavoring the pastry.

          1. re: rainey

            I agree, it's not the same. But I thought it was worth throwing it out there.

            1. re: Leepa

              AND worth *doing* to seal a blind baked shell. I'm with you, babe!

        2. I do. A little lemon zest mixed into the flour before cutting in the butter adds a lovely element to a blueberry or apple pie. I'll sometimes do cinnamon or nutmeg, too. Not only does each bite of pie benefit, but the last few bites, of just the crust, taste much more interesting.

          1. The best cheesecake crust I've ever tasted was made from ginger snap crumbs in place of graham crackers. As a rule, I make nut crusts or none at all these days, but depending on what kind of pie it is, I might add cinnamon or lemone zest.

            1. Does lard count?

              Mcf, I think there might be something particularly good about ginger snaps with cream cheese. I had a sweet amaretto cheese ball the other day with ginger snaps, and it was so good. I often prefer a crunchy cookie crust to regular pie crust, but I'm not sure whether ipse was just asking about adding stuff to flour & fat pie crusts.

              9 Replies
              1. re: jvanderh

                I don't know if I would count lard, but I was thinking about experimenting with a bacon fat pie crust. Not sure what filling I'd put with it though - it would probably be good with something savory like chicken pot pie or quiche, but I could also see it with chocolate, or maybe with a sweet and savory blend of ingredients. I will have to think on this more!

                1. re: biondanonima

                  I think it would be great with a pumpkin pie! Bacon loves squash products!

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    I read a detailed pie crust investigation once that said crusts made with half animal fat and the other half shortening or butter worked well for sweet pies. Haven't tried it myself, though.

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Bacon fat in a crust worked for me; did it on a wild impulse for a quiche. WOW. Seems to me I didn't have any short and did not believe oil would work - always have some BG in freezer or frig. Then, with the leftover scraps, made Mrs. P's "cookies", simply topped with sugar & cinnamon. Uh Huh...
                      Give it a try!

                      1. re: MartiniGenie

                        I've never made crust with it but I always save bacon fat and cook with it. Cholesterol be damned! That's GOOD stuff!

                        Great idea BTW.

                      2. re: biondanonima

                        lawdy lawdy bio, as i read your post, what uncontrollably popped into my brain was an Elvis pie. wasn't he a big fan of bacon banana peanut butter sandwiches or some such thing?
                        Sounds like something for a retro theme party or something...... Well hey, YOU brought it up...!!

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          Hm, now I'm envisioning a bacon crust with bananas, peanut butter cream, drizzled with chocolate and garnished with candied bacon...and I don't even like bananas!

                          1. re: biondanonima

                            bio, i KNEW you would run with that one:-}}
                            (how 'bout a bacon crust filled with peanut butter mouuse or peanut bjtter ganache w/ siced bananas folded in, etc......)!! yikes yikesola.

                      3. re: jvanderh

                        No, lard does not count.

                        Neither does butter, bacon fat, crisco, oil, shortening, or anything of the like.

                        And for that matter, salt doesn't count either.

                      4. Do you ever use the ATK method of using vodka for part of the liquid? I used limoncello instead of plain vodka for the last crust I made for a fruit pie. My family noted the difference and said they really liked it.

                        Encouraged by that success I put some cinnamon in the crust that's in the freezer and slated to become part of our Thanksgiving apple pie.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: rainey

                          Ever since I discovered this method I have never made any other type of crust! However, I did discover (thanks to Chowhound) that you can get away with less vodka and use all butter to make the crust even better. Adding limoncello sounds delicious - it would be great with blueberry pie for sure!

                          1. re: rainey

                            Alton Brown did a variation and used applejack for apple pie. Sounds good to me! I think rum would work well w/ different pies, too.

                            1. re: chowser

                              You know, I think I could have seen that half a million years ago and had it in the back of my head. I know I saved his crust recipe. ...altho I abandoned it once I discovered the ATK technique.

                              1. re: rainey

                                Yes, I do use the ATK vodka method.

                                The thing with flavoring is, I really want my crust to be more about texture and mouthfeel and less about flavor.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  It doesn't seem like most flavorings would even be noticeable with the filling. But, truthfully, I find even all-butter pie crust boring, and amazingly tasteless for the number of calories. I'm not sure why- I love biscuits and the like. If I thought I could do anything to really amp the flavor, I'd do it. I wonder if I could mix in some caramel . . .

                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                    j, maybe you'd achieve that flavor w/ added texture by making a nougatine (hard crack stage caramelized sugar w/ ground nuts added) and grinding some before adding to the pastry dough and then rolling out.

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                      That sounds very interesting. Do you think the hard crack sugar and nuts would stand on its own, without being mixed into pastry?

                                      1. re: jvanderh

                                        Think of nougatine as a florentine. The french use nougatine as a 'shell' for pastries that are not then baked (otherwise the nougatine would burn) so i think not. But it would work if you were going to use it as a tart shell for a ganache or pastry cream or mousse. you'd need to search further about what types of filling work- and which make the nougatine soft/ undesirable. Nougatine can be poured/spread into tart shells or poured out to make a flat disk (say, in a springform or cheesecake pan. Let harden and then top with filling; chill, pop out and serve.

                                        I think, but am not sure, that adding a bit of nougatine to a pastry dough to be baked- would not end up producing blackened/burnt bits in the pie crust.

                              2. I haven't done ANYTHING yet, but was just this morning thinking about making either apple pie with cheese in the pastry dough, or blueberry pie with orange juice as the liquid in the dough. Or, for either, a pat-in-the pan crust that is oatmeal cookie dough using pinhead oatmeal. with an oatmeal cookie crumb topping instead of a full top crust. Haven't done any of these things before, and am undecided which to make.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: greygarious

                                  I've had cheese in the crust of an apple pie and it was fantastic! I sometimes use a cream cheese pastry for apple/cranberry/walnut pies that is really good.

                                  1. re: sarahjay

                                    Ooh. A cream cheese pastry, I could get behind. Cream cheese makes everything better.

                                    1. re: jvanderh

                                      brilliant idea. the cream cheese dough i use from paula peck is so tender when i use it for empanadas and turnovers. and so easy to work with.

                                    2. re: sarahjay

                                      I make a cheddar crust for my apple pie, and I also use the same crust recipe for savory pot pies.

                                      1. re: sarahjay

                                        I love cheese cream pastry dough, and especially in savory little crab or mushroom moons.

                                      2. re: greygarious

                                        hi greygirl, the thing about liquid is- don't you only use 1T. or so per crust? I would be surprised if 1T. of a liquid were able to impart that much flavor. Along that line of inquiry, i might suggest using OJ concentrate and/or orange zest in the crust (great idea btw, but i love all things orange!)
                                        Apple pie/Cheese for sure- but it would need to be a good xsharp cheddar imo.

                                      3. depends on the pie. but yes, i do it often - extracts, spices, cocoa, espresso powder, citrus zest...scoff all you want, but it can add another dimension of flavor. it also helps bridge the flavors of the filling and the crust.