Pie

Hold Onto Those Pie Dough Scraps & Turn Them into 10 Other Treats

November 13, 2016

Look at everything you can do with pie dough scraps!

So why do we throw them away? Are we scared to overwork notoriously delicate dough? Skeptical that we could make anything with such a small amount?

When you make pies for a living like I do, it's impossible not to wonder things like this at 3 A.M. Add a couple shots of espresso and you have a full-blown investigation.

See those scraps? They're about to become VERY important. Photo by James Ransom

See, pie dough doesn't want to be manhandled for a couple reasons. The longer you work in a room temperature- or summer temperature-kitchen, the more the butter slivers and shards melt prematurely. Likewise, the longer you mix and fold, the more gluten develops, which is great for (chewy) bread but bad for (tender) pastry. And this is all bad news for re-working scraps.

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But the silver lining is that these snags are totally avoidable if you think of pie scraps like you think of yourself at 4 P.M. on a Friday: worked to capacity and ready to relax. As soon as you have your scraps, swaddle them in plastic, form into a disc, and stick in the fridge (for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days) or the freezer (for up to a month). This will keep the butter in check and help the gluten loosen up. Soon enough, the dough will be ready to have some fun again.

Don't get distracted by the crimping: Keep your eye on those scraps. Photo by James Ransom

Enter these mini recipes, sweet and savory. If you have one double-crusted pie's worth of scraps, you could also have, say, an appetizer, or snack, or dessert, or breakfast. When you reroll, shoot for 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick, but no need to get ruler-exact. Bake all of the recipes at 375° F.

All this can be YOURS!

Clockwise from top left: mushrooms puffs, ham & honey palmiers, cheese straws, faux-nel cake, crackers, sandwich cookies, cream puffs, rugelach, salt & pepper palmiers, breakfast crostata. Photo by Bobbi Lin

Sweet:

  1. Salt and Pepper Palmiers.
    Season a scant 1/4 cup sugar to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Also good: cardamom, anise, or ginger.) Roll the dough into an 8-inch square, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with all but a couple spoonfuls of the sugar. Incrementally fold the top and bottom edges inward, until they meet in the middle. Sandwich together. (Like this!) Transfer the log to the fridge and chill for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven. Slice the log into cookies, about 3/4-inch thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Squash with your palm, if you'd like wider cookies. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the palmiers are deeply browned. Let cool completely before serving, preferably with pitch-black coffee.
  2. Nutella Rugelach.
    Preheat the oven. Roll the dough into a 9-inch circle and spread on a thick layer of Nutella. Slice into 8 triangles, like a pizza (with a pizza wheel, if you have one). Roll up each triangle, like a little croissant. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side-down. Bake for about 18 minutes, until the cookies' bottoms are browned. Cool completely before serving.
  3. Faux-nel Cake.
    Add 1 inch of canola oil to a small saucepan and set over medium heat until it reaches about 375° F. Meanwhile, barely mush together your dough scraps, until they form a hodgepodge web. Use a spider to carefully lower the dough into the hot oil. Fry for about 5 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the dough begins to color and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Let cool for as long as you can stand it (I lasted 4 minutes). Douse in confectioners' sugar. Eat with your hands.
  4. Sandwich Cookies.
    Roll out the dough and cut it into circles or squares (I used a wine glass). Sprinkle with raw or regular sugar. Freeze for at least 15 minutes, until firm-this will encourage the shape to hold its own and reduce excess puffing. Meanwhile, preheat the oven. Bake for about 13 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool before sandwiching with whatever you have on hand. My favorites: lemon curd, blackberry jam, melted dark chocolate, any ice cream.
  5. Topless Cream Puffs.
    Find a mini muffin pan, roll out the dough, and cut into circles slightly larger than the pan's cups. Gently nestle the circles into the cups. Freeze for at least 15 minutes, until firm. Meanwhile, preheat the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the bottoms are browned and sturdy. Cool completely, then fill with big plops of barely sweetened whipped cream.
Your pie scraps won't look as beautiful as this dough (sorry), but here's the palmier-shaping idea. Photo by James Ransom

Savory:

  1. Ham and Honey-Dijon Palmiers.
    Roll the dough into an 8-inch square. Generously brush with Dijon mustard, then drizzle with honey. Sprinkle 1/2 cup thinly sliced, finely chopped ham on top. Incrementally fold the top and bottom edges inward until they meet in the middle. Sandwich together. Transfer the log to the fridge and chill for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven. Slice the log into cookies, roughly 3/4-inch thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Squash with your palm, if you'd like wider cookies. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the palmiers are deeply browned. Serve warm, ideally with Champagne.
  2. Cheese Straws.
    Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated sharp, white cheddar over the dough scraps. Bring together lightly and quickly, to form a cohesive disk. Bundle tightly in plastic and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Roll into a rough rectangle and cut into 1-inch strips. Now fold a strip so that it's half the original length, then twirl the two legs together. Repeat with all of the strips, setting them on a parchment-lined baking sheet as you go. Sprinkle a little more grated cheese over each straw to create lacy, frico-like borders. Freeze for at least 30 minutes as you preheat the oven. Bake for 22 minutes, until very colorful. Cool completely before serving.
  3. Crackers.
    Roll out the dough. Cut into tiny circles or squares or goldfish. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, or coarsely ground pepper, or poppy seeds, or everything seasoning. Freeze for at least 15 minutes, until firm—this will reduce excess puffing and encourage the shape to hold its own. Meanwhile, preheat the oven. Bake for about 13 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely before serving with any soft cheese or creamy dip.
  4. Mushroom Puffs.
    Preheat the oven, find a mini muffin pan, and roll out the dough. Cut into circles, slightly larger than the pan's cups. Gently nestle the circles into the cups. Add a heaping teaspoon of duxelles to each dough shell. Pinch shut, like a tiny purse. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the crust begins to brown and the puffs have opened like shumai. Serve warm.
  5. Breakfast Crostata.
    Preheat the oven. Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a disc, then roll each into a circle (about 6 1/2 inches in diameter). To eat, add 2 tablespoons grated cheddar and 2 tablespoons cooked (and squeezed out!) spinach. Pinch and fold the edges inward, to form each circle into an individual crostata (these are rustic, which means whatever you do is right). Use your thumb to create a divot in the spinach. Bake for 25 minutes total, until the bottoms are browned and crisp. At the 12 to 15 minute mark—less time for a harder yolk, more time for a softer one—gently crack an egg into to the center of each crostata. Serve warm.
Photo by Bobbi Lin

This article originally appeared on August 30, 2016. We're re-running it because the holidays—and pies galore—are coming!

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“When mom made a pie she would roll out the scraps, and cut out rounds with a water glass. put some jam or jelly in the middle of one round, put a second on top, crimp the edges with a fork to seal, poke some holes in the top with the fork, & sprinkle sugar on top before baking. (They looked a lot like a sand dollar. And often some of the jelly would leak out.) And of course there was squabbling amongst us kids over the tarts! :-) Chris ”
— Chris G.
Comment

What do YOU do with pie scraps? Tell us in the comments!

Video by Kyle Orsosz

9 Comments

Jinnie August 6, 2017
I also would like to add that I like some of the above suggestions and will probably make some pie dough just to try them out......Yum!
 
Jinnie August 6, 2017
To this day, like my Mother use to do, I squish them all together, roll them out, spread soft butter on top, give them a generous dusting of cinnamon, then a generous sprinkling of granulated sugar, spread everything together with a knife, roll up into a long log and slice into pinwheels and bake in the oven with the pie for about 10-12 minutes..........everyone loves them!
 
Janet M. August 5, 2017
As Melisa remembers, my mom rolled the bits together, stuck them in a pan to fit, brushed with soft butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. I still do these little treats for my grandchildren if they are here, or hubs if they aren't--he would prefer this as my only use for pie crust pastry
 
Chris G. August 4, 2017
I've been around awhile, (70 years old), we kids grew up with the luxury of a stay at home mom, and we canned a lot of stuff and made we jams and jelly.<br />When mom made a pie she would roll out the scraps, and cut out rounds with a water glass. put some jam or jelly in the middle of one round, put a second on top, crimp the edges with a fork to seal, poke some holes in the top with the fork, & sprinkle sugar on top before baking. (They looked a lot like a sand dollar. And often some of the jelly would leak out.) And of course there was squabbling amongst us kids over the tarts! :-) <br />Chris
 
Melisa May 19, 2017
We lay our scraps of pie dough flat onto a piece of foil or parchment paper, brush with cream and top with dark brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake until nice and crisp. Sometimes we just want to make this with all the pie crust and skip the pie.
 
Diane T. September 4, 2016
My pie scraps are transformed into a traditional Acadien dessert call Pets de Soeurs which translate to Nun's farts. We used to love them as kids and still love them now. roll out pie dough scrap, butter well, cover with brown sugar, roll up, cut into wheels and bake.
 
Mark S. August 30, 2016
I would always love my mom would always make tarts from the leftover scraps and Welch's grape jelly.
 
Smaug August 30, 2016
I generally only make one pie at a time, so not a lot of scraps- usually just lay them on a pan as is (I might sprinkle on a little sugar and/or cinnamon if in a wild mood) and put them in with the pie for 10 min or so. I usually manage to eat them all by the time the pie's done.
 
amysarah August 30, 2016
When my kids were little, I often rolled or twisted tart dough scraps around simple cinnamon sugar and/or apricot jam - leftover from glazing the tart - and bake. (May be revisionist history to say I did it solely for their benefit.)