Batch baking tip: ahead of the summer berry (and fruit) season, you can get started for your pie making. Purchase foil disposable pie pans. Make several batches of pie dough, roll out and shape into the pie pans. Freeze until solid. Then you can stack several frozen pie shells in the foil tins togehter, wrap in foil and freeze.
Holiday pie freezing: Learned this from my mom, the pie maven in the family. Make the pie, bake it. Let it cool. Wrap in foil tightly, freeze. The day before Thanksgiving, Christmas etc., thaw the pie in the fridge. The day of the holiday or party, you can cut into slices while slightly chilled (refrigerator temperature) and guests either eat cool or microwave their slice. It is much easier to slice when chilled than hot.
HOW TO MAKE PIE
Whole Wheat Crust
In food processor, blitz a few times until the butter resembles pebbles of sand:
1.25 C whole wheat flour (you can sub some of the flour out for gluten free or other flours but might be more difficult to roll out the dough)
2 TB flaxmeal
1/4 tsp salt
8 TB frozen butter, cut into chunks
Now add 3 TB ice water, pulse until just combined (do not overmix).
Tips: the cold/frozen temperature of the water and butter means you are more likley to have small pieces of butter dispersed, whcih is better for texture (read up on frissage on the web for details).
Roll the dough out. I like to use two sheets of wax paper to limit the sticking. Otherwise you can dust your cutting board/work surface in a little more flour. Use a rolling pin and roll to less than 1/4 inch thickness. If it gets to warm and the dough is falling apart, refrigerate it for a few minutes to firm it up.
Carefully transfer over the pie pan. Shape into the bottom of the pan. Pinch the top of the crust and cut away the excess. Freeze as is or continue and fill the pie shell.
Combine in a bowl, mash a little with a fork so that some of the berries release some juice. Mix until combined:
4.5 - 5 C berries (this is approx 2 pints)
1/4 C flour (wheat flour, rice flour, tapioca flour all work fine)
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional lemon juice (1 -3 tsp)
Pour the filling into the prepared pie pan over the dough.
I like crumb crust instead of a second pie crust, it's like a crumbly cookie topping!
In food processor grind until the almonds are broken into almond meal/fine powder:
1/2 C almonds (or other nut of choice like walnut, hazelnut, pecan)
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C flour (rice, coconut, wheat flour all work fine)
Now add 1/3 C cold butter. Blitz until it is crumbly. Use your hands to grab a bit and squeeze it together so it makes bigger clumps. Spread the clumps and crumbs over the berry filling in the pie pan.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Bake up to 2 pies at a time in the oven.
I start with a timer at 30 minutes to check if the crust is burning (if it is and the pie is not done yet, then cover the edges with aluminum foil). The full baking time ranges from 40minutes to over an hour depending on how cold the pie crust was (did it come out of the freezer) and how many pies you are baking at once.
You'll know the pie is done baking when:
- the crust is firm and feels "crispy"
- the filling is bubbling
- the center of the pie doesn't jiggle too much
- the crumb crust topping is slightly browned in spots