This Surprising Pantry Ingredient Makes Pie Crust 100x Better, According to King Arthur

published Sep 28, 2023
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A pie with breadcrumb crust.
Credit: Cory Fernandez

King Arthur is known for having foolproof recipes and tips, such as their popular apple cake and coffee crumb cake (the latter of which was named their recipe of the year). Given the brand’s success with beloved baked goods, I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon King Arthur’s recipe for “buttered toast press-in pie crust.”

While the name may be a bit of a mouthful, it’s really just a creative idea for switching up the usual graham cracker pie crust. Instead of using ground graham crackers, this recipe uses toasted and buttered breadcrumbs for the base of a pie. The end result looks quite similar to the typical graham cracker crust, but its flavor goes even further beyond what you’re likely used to.

Credit: Cory Fernandez

How to Make King Arthur’s Buttered Toast Press-in Pie Crust

  • Make the breadcrumbs from scratch: It might seem like a hassle, but the breadcrumbs are the star of the show. While you can buy premade plain breadcrumbs from the store, they lack the rich flavor of fresh bread. Plus, you can use a variety of different breads (like sourdough, brioche, and potato bread) that help add dimension to the pie. I used 5 1/2 cups of brioche bread that I diced into small, 1-inch cubes.
  • Toast the bread cubes at a low temperature: This recipe calls for toasting the bread cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 250°F for about one hour or until they are firm and dry. Although this is a relatively low temperature, I’d advise you to watch the bread very closely and remember that you might not need to use the entire hour. In fact, my bread cubes were ready after only about 30 minutes. 
  • Pulse the bread cubes in a food processor: Let the bread cubes cool slightly and then add them to a food processor, dividing the batch in half if needed. Pulse the cubes until they’re the “texture of wet sand.” For a 9-inch pie crust, you need about 1 1/4 cups of breadcrumbs. I used an aluminum pan, but you can also use a ceramic or metal pie dish.
  • Soften the butter at room temperature: Another unique thing about this pie crust recipe is that it calls for softened butter rather than the usual melted butter. Although it’s not explicitly explained why it calls for softened butter, I inferred that this may be to prevent the breadcrumb crust from burning or overcooking in the oven, similar to using softened butter for making cookies rather than melted butter.
  • Mixture the softened butter into the breadcrumbs: Use your hands to incorporate the softened butter into the breadcrumbs along with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar (I used white granulated sugar because that’s what I had) and a pinch of salt. Mix until fully incorporated. 
  • Press the breadcrumbs into the pie dish and bake: Add the breadcrumb mixture to the pie dish and use a measuring cup with a flat bottom or a short drinking glass to firmly but carefully press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Once the crust is pressed in, bake the crust in the oven at 350°F for about 10 to 12 minutes until lightly golden.
Credit: Cory Fernandez

My Review of King Arthur’s Buttered Toast Press-in Pie Crust

This version of a traditional crumb crust is truly so different from the typical graham cracker variety, but in the best possible way. Although I love a graham cracker crust for a cheesecake or a key lime pie, I sometimes find that it’s overly sweet and tastes of sugar more than anything else. A breadcrumb crust, however, is sweet but tastes much more buttery and rich. This version from King Arthur was super flavorful and had the ideal amount of richness from the softened butter.

Although I didn’t try this with other varieties of bread, I’d go as far as to say that brioche is a safe bet for the sweet version of this kind of dish. That said, though, King Arthur also says you can use this method for savory pies as well. Just be sure to reduce the amount of sugar to about 1 tablespoon. I’d argue, however, that depending on the type of bread you use, you could probably just omit the sugar altogether.