The simplest pie crust

Our neighbor in Miravet, Àngels Molins de Ca Mingo, will whip up a bread or pie in what it takes to explain the latest town gossip. Her secret is a recipe for crust that is about to become a no-secret because she has generously shared with us. Thanks Angels! Now even the busiest of us can put a spectacular pie on the table these Holidays.

Let’s talk crust: Catalan flat breads are traditionally made with fermented dough, just make a basic bread dough (or buy it at the baker), and enrich it by kneading lots of olive oil into and let rise again before stretching and adding toppings. But, what happens if you are totally craving a flat bread or even a fruit pie like RIGHT NOW? Enter this amazing crust!

It takes literally 5 minutes to throw together plus 30 resting that you can use to prepare the filling or toppings. That’s all. I use it for flat bread, crackers, and rustic pie crusts or galettes. See the pictures above. It admits endless variations, you can replace the beer for white wine (may be a bit less crumbly), or the oil for melted butter, yum. A sprinkle of garlic and herbs, and even a handful of a very dry cheese makes wonderful crackers. Experiment and tell me what you learnt. Or just write to say thank you, because this recipe will make you bake pie at the thought of it. You are welcome.

This crust can also be used for savory flat breads, what we call “coca amb recapte” in Catalan, which literally means a “compiled flat bread” because you can through at it anything you have. Traditional ones have a base of onion and red peppers, and they are topped with a long piece of sausage and/or salted sardines or anchovies. It would be the Catalan version of pizza, see the images below for both savory and sweet versions.

Ingredients:

  • 125 ml or 1/2 cup of beer, the darker, the tastier. Go for malty brews and avoid hoppy brews like IPAs, the flavor will be overpowering.
  • 125 ml or 1/2 cup of olive oil or another fat in liquid form.
  • 250 gr or 2 cups of all-purpose flour.
  • A pinch of salt.

Preparation:

  • In a medium-size bowl, mix all the ingredients and stir with a spoon. The dough will look runny but it will come together after 20 seconds or less. The more you stir, the more gluten the dough develops, and the tougher the crust.
  • Rest for 30 min, prepare the toppings or fillings during this time, while sipping on what’s left on the beer bottle. You are welcome again.
  • After 30 min, stir the dough again to incorporate the fat that may have separated.
  • Stretch the dough with your finger over parchment paper, I go for 2mm thick, about 1/8 of an inch
  • If you are making a flat bread, move straight to a baking sheet and cover with toppings.
  • If you are making pie, move the parchment paper to a pie plate and press against the sides. Add the filling and pull the edges towards the center, it will look beautifully rustic, this dough is too soft for neat, crimped edges. Sprinkle with sugar, the edges will be toasty, almost candied when done.
  • Note: If you rip the dough, no big deal, the high fat content will prevent it from becoming soggy
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C. / 350 degrees F. , 30 min for flatbread, at least 50 min for pies, or until nicely browned. Keep an eye on it because each oven is different and the moisture of the filling also affects browning.
  • Enjoy!

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