Hi, it’s me here with a friendly reminder: Make your pie dough early, and maybe even make a little extra so you can have pie for breakfast. On Thanksgiving Day, you’ll have about a thousand other things to do, and imagine how good, how badass, how prepared you’ll feel to be able to pull fresh, ready-to-roll pie dough from the fridge. If you’re buying pie dough from the store—I mean, that’s totally fine. We all have to pick our holiday cooking battles. But if you’ve never tried making your own dough, you really should try it. You’ll be surprised at how straightforward and flakey and buttery and perfect it is. (Plus it’s good to get your hands in dough once in awhile.)
You will also, having made your own pie dough, feel very disinclined to waste any of it once you’ve rolled it, filled it, and trimmed off the excess hanging from your pie dish. They’re just scraps, sure, but there’s usually quite a bit—and you worked hard to make that dough. Might as well reward yourself with breakfast pie. There’s never enough left over to make a whole additional pie, but there’s usually enough to form into a little scrappy ball, which you can roll out, set on a sheet tray, and fill with with whatever you’ve got lying around in the days leading up to what’s arguably the year’s biggest food holiday.
It could be a bit of cranberry sauce, some roasted sweet potato mashed up with a little brown sugar or a handful of mini marshmallows, some garlicky sautéed greens, the bottom half of any lingering jar of jam in your fridge, half a sliced apple tossed with sugar and cinnamon, a fat scoop of ricotta, a tangle of caramelized onions—really, whatever you’re trying to get out of your fridge now so as to make space for tomorrow’s leftovers and get yourself some pie for breakfast.
Photo by Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
This is what my father, our family’s resident pie maker, does. Dad makes the pie dough Wednesday night, then rolls them out for the pies—apple and pumpkin and mincemeat and pecan—first thing on Thursday morning while he has his coffee. With the scraps, he makes these tiny, informal pies—pie-lets!—that become the best cook’s treat, or our breakfast with the second pot of coffee. We would look forward to them almost more than the actual pies.
Roll your little ball of dough into a rough circle, spoon your filling of choice onto one half of it (leaving about half an inch of room), and fold the dough over the filling so that it looks like a half-moon. Crimp the edges—do something fancy if you like, or just use a fork to seal—and then brush with an egg beaten with a splash of water. Cut a small, quick slit into the top of your little pie with a sharp knife, then bake at 400° F until golden and crisp, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of your pie-let. Eat (thankfully) for breakfast, with a cup of something hot.
All-Butter Pie Dough
3 cups flour (I like all-purpose, but you can substitute half or even all of it for whole wheat, although the sweet butter flavor doesn’t come through as cleanly)
1 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2/3 cup ice water
How to Make It
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt with your hands or a fork. Add the cubes of butter, tossing them together with the flour so that they’re well coated before rubbing the cubes between your fingers, breaking them up and smushing them into the flour; you don’t want the pieces to be too small—I like them to be about the size of walnut halves.
Fish the ice cubes out of your ice water, making sure you have 2/3 cup. Drizzle it over the flour mixture, then gently mix it together with your hands until you have a rough ball of dough; it should just come together—some errant crumbs are okay. Divide the dough in two and shape each portion into discs. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour or up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.