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Wendy DeBord

Demo: Press-In Crusts

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This thread is open to all members to post demonstrations of their crusts. Press-in crusts are different then pastry crusts in the regard that it's not a dough you making and lining your pan with. Your using either nuts or cookies.......perhaps even other grains (other then processed whea) and pressing your mixture into your pan, not forming a dough from your ingredients. Technically a press-in crust can be formed in a pie pan or a tart pan.

Again to remind all, this is a demonstration thread and it should be narrowly focused on the information presented only. General discussions of this topic should not take place in this thread. If you desire to talk in general about press in crusts, please post on a different appropriate thread (starting one, if need be). Please include your recipe (posting it in RecipeGullet, then linking it back to your post) with your demo. You can post the recipe for the filling your making, but any discussion about fillings and how to belong on a seperate thread. I'll start one now, please feel free to discuss fillings you like and use, there.

Thanks everyone..........and I sincerely hope you all will enjoy this and share too.

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This is a demo for making a cherry pie with a nut-crumb bottom crust lined with chocolate and a streusel topping. The techniques illustrate several things:

Making and forming a nut-crumb crust (same technique as making a cookie-crumb crust);

Making a streusel topping mixture;

Lining a bottom crust with melted chocolate; and

Cooking a fruit filling on the stovetop instead of in the pie, which ensures that the fruit filling is just goopy enough without being overly sweet and overly gummy.

Before going through this demo, click HERE to review and print out the master recipe I posted on RecipeGullet.

First make the streusel topping:

1. Mise-en-place for streusel topping (flour, sugars, slivered almond, soft butter, salt, flavorings)

> Put everything except the butter, almonds, and extracts into the food processor and pulse several times.

> Add the butter and extracts and blend away. Unlike a pastry crust, you don’t need to leave lumps of butter.


2. Interior of the food processor before whizzing the nuts. When the butter has disappeared, add the nuts. Pulse only a few times to chop up the slivered almonds, but not to make them into powder.


3. The finished streusel ready to chill. The lumps are the nuts.


Next make the crumb crust (You don’t need to wash the food processor)

4. Mise-en-place for the nut crust (nuts, sugar, soft butter, salt, flavorings)


> Put everything except the butter and extracts into the food processor and keep pulsing until the nuts are finely ground. Don’t blend continuously or you’ll end up with nut butter. The sugars also help prevent making a nut butter. After the nuts are finely ground,

> Add the butter and extracts and blend away. Unlike a pastry crust, you don’t need to leave lumps of butter.

5. Interior of food processor when the crumbs are done


6. Crumbs dumped into pie pan.


7. Use a custard cup (wrapped in plastic) for sides and press the sides and bottom firmly. If the nuts stick to the plastic, chill the pan and cup for 10 minutes.


8. Crumb crust ready for oven (chilled)


9. The baked crust. You don’t need to use pie weights on a nut crumb crust because there is no rising effect as with pastry.


Coating the crust with chocolate:

10. The recipe describes melting the chocolate in a microwave. My trick for coating a baked shell with melted chocolate is to wrap the bottom from an 11” tart pan with plastic wrap, and with an offset spatula, smear the melted chocolate evenly on the plastic. Working quickly, flip the coated disk chocolate-side down onto the cooled shell, loosen the plastic, remove the disk, and allow the chocolate-coated plastic wrap to flop down and conform to the contours of the shell. Pat out any bubbles and chill. See the recipe for details. This picture (not very good) shows the wrapped metal disk coated with chocolate, ready to invert. The edges of the plastic wrap are folded under in this shot. You can barely make out the edges of the tin tart bottom.


11. Coated crust with plastic wrap showing, ready to chill until hard. The chocolate color looks weird, sorry.


12. Finished, chilled coated crust, ready to receive filling. While there are smears of chocolate on the edge of the pastry shell, they will be hidden by the streusel topping.


13. Pitting the cherries. If you don’t have a cherry/olive pitter, get one. This model only costs a couple of bucks. Bulk pitters can cost up to $250.

> It’s important to taste the cherries for natural sweetness. Add more or less sugar depending on how sweet they are to begin with. Sour cherries are better, but have a very short season. Omit the lemon juice if you’re lucky enough to have fresh sour cherries.


14. Mise-en-place for filling (pitted macerated cherries, sugar, kirsch, lemon juice, salt, flavorings, cornstarch slurry). Simmer everything except the butter and cornstarch slurry over medium-low heat, covered, for about 25 minutes. Taste to make sure the flavor is just tart/sweet enough. You can add sugar and lemon, but not take them out. Stir in the slurry and bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. The mixture will be a little soupy, as it will set up when cool. You do not want a stiff, cherry-jam filling!


15. Off heat, stir in the diced butter. This gives the filling a good sheen and mouth feel, as well as a good flavor. Let cool at least to room temp (you can chill overnight).


16. Cooled filling into prepped pan


17. Partly covered pie with streusel


18. Finished unbaked pie chilled, ready for oven


19. Finished, baked whole pie


20. Plated slice


Edited by JayBassin (log)

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I hope to revive this thread about nut-crumb and cookie-crumb pie crusts (and cheesecake bottoms!). I do a lot of nut and cookie crusts and want to get more tips.

I think they have an inherently better flavor than dough crusts, but they usually don't look as good. In particular, I've never figured out a good way to get a decorative edge (a la fluting).

Is anyone else doing press-in crusts? If so, what works for you, what hasn't? Do you ever have problems with them cutting well?

A question for those of you who cater pastries: do you get requests for press-in crusts? If so, in what context?

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