EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 8, 2013

Cookies from crust

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — One of my favorite food memories is of my mom baking pies when I was growing up. She was a champion pie baker, as were my grandmother and great-grandmother, but what I absolutely loved,was what they would make with the leftover pie pastry.

As my grandmother did before her, Mom would roll out the scrap pastry and spread on some butter — actually margarine. Then she would sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the buttered pastry, roll it up and cut them into the roll-ups you see pictured.

When asked for the recipe, I call them “Cinnamon Roll-Ups,” but in our family and among close friends, these treats have been known as “Just-A-Minutes.” They got that name many years ago when eight children, father, grandfather, and uncles would smell those baking and consistently ask “are they ready,” “aren’t they ready yet?”, and my mother’s answer was always — you got it — “in just a minute.”

To this day, many of us are just as happy to forego a pie if we can get plenty of “Just-A-Minutes.”

When it comes to food memories, you can never forget the smell of pastry and cinnamon when baking in the oven. I make these every Memorial Day weekend when my brother visits for a week from his home in Buenos Aires — these are his one request.

If you are going to bake pies for this Thanksgiving and Christmas, make some extra dough and try these cinnamon roll-ups. Whoever is in the house while you are baking will find his or her way to the kitchen very quickly, and you might find yourself creating a new family tradition, and a delectable food memory.

Cinnamon Roll-Ups

The following is my mother’s favorite pie crust recipe. She used it consistently, whether for savory or sweet pies. It always came out flaky, tasty, and seemed to hold up terrifically when rolling out.

It can be wrapped well in plastic and kept refrigerated for three or four days or frozen for several weeks.

Pastry recipe for double-crust pie:

Mix together:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

Add 3/4 cup solid shortening.

Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in shortening until crumbly.

Mix together:

1/3 cup water

2 teaspoons vinegar

1 large egg

Shake or whisk well; add to flour and shortening mixture, mixing together with a large fork until formed into ball.

Roll out dough into a rectangle shape until dough is as thin as you can get it without tearing.

Using approximately 3/4 of a stick of very soft butter, spread with your fingers to cover dough, right to the edges (use only enough butter to lightly cover the dough).

Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar until dough is covered with a good amount, but do not over-do.

Starting with the long side closest to you, roll up dough keeping it as tight as you can (the first couple of inches will test your patience, but then it goes smoothly). When at the end, use your fingers to moisten the edges lightly with water so it will stick to the roll.

Use a pastry cutter or non-serrated sharp knife to cut the pastry into 1-inch pieces.

Place roll-ups an inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pastry begins to get golden brown.


Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com.


Pastry Tips Liquid: Most recipes call for water to allow the flour to form gluten and let the dough stick together. Add too little liquid, and you'll have trouble molding a crust, but overdo it, and your pie bottom will be too hard. Acid: Vinegar can serve two useful roles in pie crusts -- it promotes tenderness and can keep the crust from getting too brown. The acidity of vinegar reduces gluten in the dough, making it more flaky and tender. The dough will also roll out more easily, shrink less during baking, and in essence be more forgiving and patchable. Any pie crust recipe can be easily modified by substituting 1 tablespoon of white or cider vinegar for the same amount of water. Fat: Fat lends flavor -- especially if you're using butter. Plus, it gives the dough a flakiness because chunks of butter coat the flour. This is why you don't want to cut the butter too small or have it at room temperature. When making pie crust, I use half butter and half solid shortening such as Crisco. Salt: Even in desserts a little salt peaks the flavor.