I’m all for preparing whatever I can ahead of time and freezing it. Who can’t use that kind of time savings when it comes to preparing dinner or dessert? My problem is that my kitchen is city-small, with a freezer to match. So, whatever I freeze must really count. The more ways I can use whatever it is I’m freezing, the better!
Pie dough is one of those things I love to freeze. If I’m going to make one crust, why not make a few and freeze them? It keeps for about three months (although it never lasts that long around here!). However, I just don’t have the freezer space to store disks of both sweet dough and savory dough. I finally realized I didn’t have to store both… I could make and freeze a “neutral dough” and work in whatever flavors I need when I decide to use it. It was kind of my own little “a-ha!” moment!
You can use whatever happens to be your favorite pie crust recipe. Whatever recipe you use, for the purposes of freezing a “neutral dough”, if it calls for sugar leave it out. Don’t worry – we’ll take care of adding that sweetness in later!
Let’s start with the savory dough. A savory dough may be used for anything from a mushroom tart to a chicken pot pie. You can flavor it with any of your favorite herbs and spices, depending on what your filling will be: crushed red pepper, paprika, chopped chives, and fresh rosemary are but a few options. Here my plan was to make a vegetable crostata (a rustic, free-form tart) filled with some cheeses, bacon, and an asparagus-mushroom-tomato mixture. I decided to build up flavor in the crust by adding salt (I would recommend always starting with some salt if you do not have dietary restrictions), black pepper and chopped fresh thyme.
Start by rolling out your dough to a little less than half the diameter you want to end up with. I knew I ultimately wanted to roll my dough out to about 14”, so I paused at about 6”. Then it was all about the sprinkling: first some salt, then pepper, then thyme.
Now let your rolling pin do the work! Continue rolling the dough until it is the thickness and diameter that you need for whatever you’re preparing. Your herbs and spices will become integrated right into the dough. You’re off and running!
Now let’s get to that sweet dough. Pies, tarts, fruit-filled crostatas – your sweet dough will work with any of these. Remember that sugar you left out so you could make this freezer-friendly “neutral dough”? Well, now is your chance to add that back in. Of course, you can add in other flavorings as well: orange, lime or lemon zest, vanilla bean seeds, caraway seeds, a sprinkling of cinnamon, some fresh nutmeg. In my case, I was making a crostata filled with nectarines, plums, and strawberries – all that seasonal goodness! – so I decided to keep it simple, just adding some sugar.
Once again, I rolled out my dough to about 6”, but this time it was sugar that I sprinkled on top. It won’t really need a lot, maybe a tablespoon or two, depending on how sweet your filling will be and if you are building in other flavors into your dough. And yes… once again, I let my rolling pin do the work and just roll all that sweetness into the dough until I rolled it out to the 14” I needed.
In the end, I had two wonderful crostatas: a savory one for dinner and a fruit-filled one for dessert. Although I wouldn’t recommend serving both at the same meal, they really do demonstrate how easily the same dough will give two completely different – and deliciously flavorful! – results!
Can't wait for a class to start making pies? Our Owner/Chef Shelley Young shows you how to make pie crust in this video: