Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A "Healthier" Pie: Fruit with an Oil Crust!

Since I have had a little more free time this summer, I have been experimenting in cooking all kinds of things from scratch that I've always wanted to try. One item I've been playing around with is fruit pies, which are the ultimate summer dessert in my opinion! 

I first thought of making a pie when I found myself with a bunch of cherries in my fridge that I didn't know what to do with. I bought them on sale and I thought I would enjoy snacking on them, but I didn't. They stained my fingers and I just didn't like them on their own. So I thought..."Hey, I've got these cherries, and a couple apples... why not a pie or a tart?" 

I found a recipe for a butter crust with items I had on hand at the time, made a simple syrup, and tossed in the fruit. The result? Well... let's just say I didn't take pictures for a reason. Turns out, that crust was dry and brittle (can you describe a pastry as brittle? Lol...), and there really wasn't enough fruit. However, my husband ate it anyway. :)

Then, a few weeks ago, yellow peaches were on sale. I decided to try my pie experiment again. This time, I used an oil crust recipe, this one to be exact. The benefits of using an oil crust are many: no butter or lard, easier to roll and cut, and 100 times more of the "good fats" that we are supposed to eat. The recipe calls for canola oil, but I decided to try it with extra virgin olive oil instead. It's so easy because there's only four ingredients! 

The measurements I used for the crust were: 
2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup oil, and 1/2 cup milk. I cut down the flour a bit from the original recipe since a few posters had mentioned it was better that way. It was very easy and rolled out beautifully. 

While the dough was chilling, I cut up the fruit. I used the yellow peaches and some green apples. Then I made a simple syrup, as follows:

Combine in a pot 2 parts brown sugar, 1 part water, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon. Stir, boil, stir again until all is dissolved and then turn off the burner, move the pot to a cool burner and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. 

After that, I rolled out 2/3 of the dough and laid it carefully in my pan. (I used an 8 inch round cake pan since I couldn't find my pie plate and it was fine!) Then I tossed the fruit in the syrup (just enough to coat) and carefully spread it in the pan. With the remaining dough, I spread it out and cut it in strips to make a basic latticework:

unbaked pie, raw pie, apple, peach
Before going in the oven!

After sprinkling some sugar on the top, I put the pie in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, checked, turned it, and it cooked another 20-30 minutes. At that point, I took it out because I was worried about the crust being too done. I later learned from some more experienced cooks that I should have put some foil on top for the first 1/2 of baking, to avoid burning the crust while allowing the pie to cook longer. Here is the finished product:

baked pie, peach apple pie, apples, peaches


This was definitely a better attempt than the cherry one, but I learned quite a bit and I would do a few things differently:
  • The oil pie crust is a win! It was flaky and delicious. The only change I would make would be to use Canola oil instead of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The crust was still good, but it had a slight olive oil taste that would have been better with a meat pie, not a fruit one.
  • Tart peaches do not make good pies. I didn't realize the peaches were a little sour, and even after being drenched in syrup, they were still too tart. I'll stick to apples!
  • I need to cover the top with foil for the first half of cooking so that I can cook the pie longer without burning the top. The pie could definitely have cooked probably about 20 or so minutes longer. 
So that is my adventure so far with pie baking! Feel free to add your comments or experiences below, or suggest a recipe for me to try out.

Thanks for reading! Until next time,


  1. Looks like you are learning just fine. Savers (Savers in a non-profit second hand store here in Las Vegas) has a bunch of cook books and are having a buy 4 get one free. Have fun finding us reciepes! Ask Grandmama too!

    1. Awesome! I actually don't buy recipe books because I end up not using them. I find many of my recipes online or in magazines! :)