Friday, May 16, 2014

Press-Into-the-Pan Pie Crust (Sort of Whole-grainsy, Potentially Dairy-Free and Vegan)

Yesterday, for reasons the universe only truly understands, I had to have strawberry pie. Had to. Had to had to had to. We almost had it for dinner. I tried to justify it so hard. It wouldn't be any worse than pancakes for dinner, right? And I could serve it with, well with... well, something to make healthier right? And I mean, it did have strawberries in it--quite a few. And I made a crust that had both oat and whole wheat flours in it.

At the end of the day, the only thing stopping me from pie for dinner was the simple fact that I would have to admit to my children that we were having a sweet pie for dinner. I mean I didn't want my kids to get it into their dear little heads that things with names like strawberry pie are acceptable dinner options.
Me: "What would you like for your birthday dinner, dear?"
Them: "Strawberry pie."
Me: "You mean before the cake."
Them: "Well, duh, we can't have dinner after cake."

So yes, I had to acknowledge that pie for dinner would create future problems for me. Consequently, I did the responsible thing. We had popcorn for dinner. And then we had strawberry pie.

And now I know what you're asking (besides 'is this woman the worst mom ever or what?'), "Why is this post about only the pie crust and not the whole pie?" Well, because even though the pie was delicious, it did not set up. It was like a delicious crust with runny strawberry shortcake filling inside. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But the blob of goodness that made it to my plate couldn't rightfully be called pie.

The crust, on the other hand, was perfect. First of all, it's dead easy. You don't roll it out--you simply press it into the pan. Secondly, it was kind of sort of healthy containing both oat flours and whole wheat. I wasn't trying to be healthy. I made it the way I did because I remembered my mom making a strawberry press-in pie crust that had oats, flour, and sugar. It was delicious. But the recipe is lost. I wanted to try to reproduce it. The result was pretty perfect.

So while I work on my runny strawberry pie (by experimenting with 100's of strawberry pies for dinner of course), at least I can give you a fabulous and easy crust. I'd dare say that this crust will work with any soft fleshed non-cook fruit pie and probably a whole assortment of other sweet pies as well. It'd also be great with cheesecake. And, hey, maybe if you use it (come on, "whole grain vegan pie crust" sounds pretty virtuous) you can trick yourself into eating it for dinner. I won't tell.

The other thing I should tell you is that I actually made two strawberry pies--one tiny, one large. I made the tiny one because I had a bit of leftover dough from this chocolate pie hanging out in my freezer. It's a slightly cookie-esque dough with a bit of lemon rind in it. I thought it would be the perfect thing for strawberry pie and, oh mother hubbard, it sure was. It's not as easy as press-in pie crust. And you can't even try to justify feeding it to your family for dinner. But it was really delicious combined with the strawberries.

So there you go: Two out-of-the-box and extra delicious options for your strawberry pie crusts. One you can find at this link (you'll only need half that dough for an open-topped strawberry pie). The other I give you below.

And always remember--that which you can't justify eating for dinner can probably be justified for breakfast. Amen and amen.

Press-Into-the-Pan Pie Crust
adapted from The Splendid Table
Makes 1 pie crust
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Cost: $.70
flour: .05, whole wheat flour: .10, oat flour: .10, sugar: .05, butter: .40

Note: Many recipes use 1/2 C oil instead of the butter listed here. I think this would totally work (and I'm sure it's what my mother did all those years ago), but I love the flavor of butter. However, using oil would give you a vegan/dairy-free option for this pie crust. And let's face it, coconut oil would rock, especially in a strawberry pie.

1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C oat flour (you can make your own easy peasy)
1/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10-11 Tbsp butter, melted

Mix all ingredients. Plop into pie pan (I recommend greasing the pan first or even lining it with parchment paper--otherwise it's hard to get out). Press your mixture onto the bottom and up the sides until it's about the thickness of a regular old pie crust (maybe a wee bit thicker). It won't be perfectly flat liked a rolled crust. That's okay--you're going to fill it with something and eat it. If you want you can crimp the edges, but I went for my classic "rustic" look.

If using this for a cold pie, you'll need to cook the crust first and then let it cool. (well, I guess you don't have to  cook it, but then you'll have a sort of crumbly, yet still delicious mess). Bake it at 350 for 15-20 minutes until it's just becoming golden. You could use pie weights if you're compulsive and perfectionistic (and what are you doing on this blog), but I didn't.


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