MAKES: Enough for an 8- to 10-inch tart or pie

TIME: 20 minutes

A simple crust that is great when you want to whip something together without having to chill, rest, or roll a more traditional crust. It has a slightly crumbly texture that is lovely with more structured filling like cheesecake that don’t rely on the crust to hold them together.

This is a little different from the traditional graham cracker crust, where you use melted butter to moisten the crumb-and-sugar mixture before you press it into the pan. This technique makes a more cohesive, finer crust. It’s worth the extra few minutes. If you use dried crumbs from a plain loaf of bread, you might want to increase the sugar by a tablespoon or so, depending on the filling. Taste it after mixing and see. If you use the oil instead of butter, the crust will become vegan.

11/2 cups dried bread or graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons brown sugar

Pinch salt

4 tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, or extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350В°F. Put the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a food processor or a bowl. Slowly add the butter, processing or stirring until well blended.

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of a pie or tart pan. Bake the crust until it just begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack before filling; it will crisp up as it cools.

Variations

Baked Savory Crumb Crust. This is really great with quiche: Instead of the graham cracker crumbs, use bread crumbs (either alone or in combination with cooked grains) and omit the sugar. If you like, add about 2 tablespoons minced shallot or onion; 1/4 cup chopped mild fresh herbs, like parsley, cilantro, chives, chervil, or basil or 2 tablespoons stronger herbs, like rosemary, oregano, marjoram, or thyme; and freshly ground black pepper.

Baked Gingersnap Crumb Crust. Any crisp cookie from vanilla wafers to chocolate cookies works here; if the cookie is very buttery, reduce the butter or oil by 1 or 2 tablespoons: Substitute gingersnap cookie crumbs for the bread or graham cracker crumbs.