Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crumb Crust

Crumb Crust

(This is Maida's recipe for a basic graham cracker crumb crust. I have tried this recipe twice with dismal results. I think it simply too much work and I've never been able to get the crust to stay together. The crust is dry so perhaps adding more butter might make it more moist. But really, a graham cracker crust is easy to do without going to this much trouble. Here is a good one.)

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Adjust a rack to the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375°.  In a bowl, mix the crumbs with the sugar and nutmeg.  Then add the butter and stir with a rubber spatula until the butter is evenly distributed; the mixture will not hold together.  Although the crumb mixture can be pressed into place directly in the pie plate, I line the plate with foil first, and then remove the foil before filling the crust.  This guarantees easy serving - the crust cannot stick to the plate.  It is a bit more work (or play) but I think well worth it.

For a 9-inch pie plate (I use a glass one), use a 12-inch square of foil.  Turn the plate over on a work surface.  Place the foil shiny side down over the outside of the plate and, with your hands, press it firmly against the plate all around.  Remove the foil.  Turn the plate over again and place the shaped foil in the plate.  Press the foil firmly into place in the plate with a potholder or a folded towel.  Fold the edges of the foil down over the rim of the plate.

Turn the crumb crust mixture into the foil-lined plate.  Using your fingertips, distribute the mixture evenly and loosely over the sides first and then the bottom.  Then press the crust firmly and evenly on the sides, pushing it up from the bottom a bit to form a rim slightly (barely) higher than the edge of the pie plate.  Be careful that the top of the crust is not too thin.  To shape a firm edge, use the fingertips of your right  hand against the inside and press down against it with the thumb of your left hand.  After pressing the sides and the top edge firmly, press the remaining crumbs evenly and firmly over the bottom.  There should be no loose crumbs.

Bake for 8 minutes.  Then cool to room temperature.

Freeze for at least 1 hour, overnight if possible.  It must be frozen solid.

Remove from the freezer.  Raise the edges of the foil and carefully lift the foil (with the crust) from the plate.  Gently peel away the foil as follows: Support the bottom of the crust on your left hand and peel away the foil, a bit at a time (do not tear the foil) with your right hand.  As you do so, rotate the crust gently on your left hand. 

Supporting the bottom of the crust with a small metal spatula or a table knife, ease it back into the plate very gently in order not to crack it.  It will not crack or crumble if it has been frozen long enough.

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