The Crust(s) of Life

Crusts:  officially denoted as “the tough outer layer, a hardened layer or coating, or a deposit on layer of something soft”  followed by the listing of several synonyms that include but are not limited to:  covering, layer, coating, cover, coat, sheet, thickness, film, skin…etc.

A crust indeed is the essential to every pie, creme brulee, or bread.  It’s the definition of a light layer of ice, the opening of a volcano, and perhaps it defines the many layers we use to protect our inner self.

Food and life are intertwined.  Food resembles emotion, passion, moods, the future, and sustainability.  All the things that we struggle to achieve balance in our own lives.    The start of a recipe is similar to the start of life.  We take a few key ingredients, heat it up just right, and poof, out comes life!  It’s so similar, yet so different.

This rant on crusts is not my take on life.  No, it’s in fact the surprising ways we use and depend on crust itself.  After flipping through my recipes that included “crusts” and after spending more time on my favorite new cookbook “The Pie Cookbook”  I realized how important crusts are to those of us who love to cook, but more specifically to those of us who love to bake.  The crust was for me a most feared item in baking.  I knew when I tasted a great crust on any dessert-it was the golden seal that made the dessert a success.  I’ve failed as many times as I’ve succeeded with crusts.  Through all the ups and downs, I’ve learned one thing here with crusts.  It takes consistency.  Consistency in following the written recipe, until it’s perfected.  But if you’re like me, recipes are read, but not always followed to a tee.  For some reason, the gentle combination of what usually is butter, water and flour is all based on a science.  Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m no stranger to crust.  But until I took the recipe from “The Pie Cookbook” it was really a shot in the dark, even with a recipe.  I think I’ve faced my fear and mastered, or at least have begun to master, the sweet success with crusts.

So, after all this, here’s my conclusion.  Crust is the hard outer layer, where in almost every circumstance, is protecting the delicate fine inners.  The soft doughy bread below the crust, the delicate cream under the creme brulee,  you see the pattern?  Go ahead, work with crusts, build yourself a comfort level to them, because always, always, always, what awaits in the center of the crust is just truly amazing!

Crusts

Ingredients

Simple Pizza Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 potato boiled
  • 1 TBS yeast or 20 grams fresh yeast
  • 1/2 cups water
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt

Simple Pie Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups flour 200 grams
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 125 grams cut into small cubes
  • 3 TBS water very cold

Basic Quark Torte (also good for cheesecake)

  • 180 gram flour
  • 80 grams sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 80 grams butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt

Savory Pie Dough

  • 1 1/4 cup flour 200 grams
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter 125 g. butter/cold
  • 3 TBS water cold

Instructions

Pizza Dough: or Pizza Crust

  1. combine all dry ingredients, add warm water, and mix in mixer or by hand until dough is well combined and not sticky.  Set aside on a wooden board, and cover with moist warm towel and let rise until dough  doubles in size.

Simple Pie Dough: or Pie Crust

  1. Combine dry with butter, add water and mix until well combined.  Put in fridge for 30 minutes, then roll out and put in pie plate.  No need to bake the dough prior to putting the filling in.  This dough cooks evenly and has an amazingly buttery crust.  Very impressive. 

Quark Torte Dough: or Torte Crust

  1. Combine dry with butter and egg.  Mix by hand until dough is soft and well combined.  Put this dough in a spring-form pan and bake in a 200 degree (Celsius) oven for 20 minutes, or until light golden brown.  This dough is very complimentary to a cake such as quark, or cheese cake.  It's spongy, yet very stable for those types of cakes. 

Simple Savory Pie Crust:

  1. in a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and pepper.  cut butter into small pieces, and combine until mixture is coarse.  Add water and mix with hands until dough comes together. 

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