Pie 101

I loooove pie but was always thought it was too difficult to make.  A year or two ago I learned that with a few shortcuts pie is really easy to make.  Dangerously easy, in fact.  I cannot be held responsible if you get into a pie-making rut and make a LOT of pie.

Ingredients 

  • frozen pie shell
  • 10-12 oz fresh or frozen fruit for filling
  • cornstarch
  • lemon juice
  • butter
  • sugar
  • flour (plus some oatmeal, if you wish)

Turn your oven on to 425 F.

Put your fruit in a medium-sized bowl with 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/2 cup sugar.  If you’re using frozen fruit like me, it needs to warm up a bit.  The picture below is what it should NOT look like. My fruit is so frozen that even after stirring you can still see the dusty corn starch and grainy sugar.  Also, my butter is a big chunk.  Cut that butter into Cheerio-or-smaller-sized pieces, stir some more, and let it sit to thaw a bit.

Meanwhile, for the crumble topping, melt half a stick of butter (4 tablespoons, 1/4 cup) in the microwave.  I usually do this in a large coffee mug, and have found it’s best to do 30 seconds, wait 1-2 minutes, 30 more seconds to keep the butter from melting so fast that it boils over and makes a mess.

Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour to your melted butter (or, if you like the texture, 1/4 cup plain uncooked oatmeal instead of flour).  Stir them together with a fork.

Now you’re going to begin adding flour (no oatmeal from this point on) 1/8 cup at a time to your melted butter mixture, stirring in between each addition with your fork. You want to get your mixture to just the consistency of a crumble top and looking kinda like popcorn (see below).  For this pie, when I used oatmeal, it took four additions.  Don’t over-flour this; as soon as it comes together, stop adding flour.  Here’s in process pictures between flour additions:

Now go back to look at your fruit.  After some a bit of thawing and stirring, this is how it’s supposed to look (with chunks of butter).

Pour the mixture into your pie crust.

Grab the crumbles and spread them all on the top.

Put the pie on a cookie sheet and put it in your 425 oven for 40 minutes.  (There’s also a thing you can do where you put foil around the edge to get perfectly browned crust, but I’m too lazy and it doesn’t matter much.)

Your pie may ooze a little during cooking like mine has, which is why you have the cookie sheet to catch the mess.

It’s tempting to go, “Mmm, pie!” and dig right in, but DO NOT DO IT!  The inside of your pie is all soupy and hasn’t set yet.  Let the cornstarch do its sciency magic thing by letting your pie cool for at least an hour so that the middle can “gel”.  If you like hot pie, you can always pop a slice in the microwave later.

But afterwards, by all means, enjoy that homemade pie of yours!

Notes: My frozen raspberry bag was 10oz, so I used half the bag and a 6 oz box blackberries.  As long as you have 10-12 oz, you can use fresh, frozen, or a combo of both.  

This recipe works well with just about any berry (or combination of them) and also frozen peaches (cut them into bite-sized pieces first).  I have not tried this recipe with cherries or apples.  

If you use a “deep dish” sized frozen pie crust you’ll want an additional 5-6oz of fruit, but otherwise the recipe is the same.  

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