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Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust

The inspiration for this crazy good pie crust came from a variety of sources, but mainly from Erin McDowell, who is my personal pie muse. Many of her recipes are featured on Food52's website, and her Instagram is the stuff of dreams: perfectly shaped lattice crusts, gorgeous crimps, flawlessly smooth dough without one crack in sight. I don't know how she does it, but she is a genius.

Anyway, she posted a cinnamon roll crust one day, and I just had to have it. The majority of recipes on the world wide web, however, feature the recipe with a store-bought pie crust. In fact, they encourage it. I refuse -- I repeat, refuse -- to ever use a store-bought pie crust, unless for some bizarre reason it becomes absolutely necessary. Store-bought pie crusts are for those of us who don't have THE most basic ingredients on hand in the kitchen: flour, butter, sugar, salt and water. And salt and sugar really aren't necessary. If you have these ingredients, a bowl, a bit of free time and a pair of hands, there seriously is no excuse for store-bought pie crusts.

Anyway, here is my recipe for a homemade, perfectly decadent cinnamon roll pie crust. I later topped it off with an apple crisp, and that recipe is soon to come. Use this crust for any of your fall pies -- pumpkin, sweet potato, apple... just be sure to cut back the cinnamon by at least a third in the filling.

Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust

For one 9-inch pie

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 stick unsalted chilled butter

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water (you won't use all of it!)

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 - 2 tablespoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar

Make the crust: Fill a measuring cup with 1/2 cup water. Plop a few ice cubes in the water and place measuring cup in the freezer while you make the dough.

Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into 1/2 or 1 tbsp. sized cubes, and toss them into the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, pick up fingerfuls of fat and flour, and press together the fat, dropping it back into the bowl. Continue until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with a few larger pieces strewn throughout.

Grab the measuring cup from the freezer, and pour a thin, steady stream of water into the fat and flour for about 4 seconds. Using the same technique as before, toss the fat and flour together. The mixture should feel tacky and slightly damp, with a few coarse crumbs still there.

Take a handful of dough, form it into a ball and toss it into the air, letting it land back in your palm. If the dough holds its shape in your hand, it is done. If not, continue adding water by the teaspoon. (You should not have to use more than 1/4 cup of water.)

Gather the dough into a ball, flatten the dough into a disc, and roll it along its side like a wheel to form a perfect circle. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, or overnight.

Cinnamon Roll Crust Time:

Take the disc out of the fridge. If it has been chilling for more than 2 hours, let it sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes.

Roll the dough out to a square about 1/4 inch thick. Be sure to rotate the dough often to prevent sticking while rolling.

Using a pastry brush, generously brush the square with the melted butter. Then sprinkle your cinnamon over the butter (I personally love cinnamon and love sprinkling it over things, so I didn't even measure it. Just be careful not to overdo it.), followed by the turbinado sugar.

Now for the fun part: Starting with the longest side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Sprinkle a little flour over the roll, and begin cutting your little cinnaminis. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch cinnamon rolls, and gently use your rolling pin to flatten them out just a smidge. Take your pie plate and begin arranging the rolls in the pan, slightly overlapping each other to cover the edges.

Using the tines of a fork, press the edges of the cinnamon roll pie crust to adhere to the plate. Chill the crust for 10-15 minutes before baking -- or if you haven't yet decided on a filling, freeze it for as long as you like. It can go straight from the freezer to the oven and turn out beautifully.

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