Clean Eating Pie

August Pie time came after a week of gluttony on our first-ever cruise to Alaska.  I caught a bug either the last day on board or the night we ate out upon returning home, and I was pretty convinced that I was never cooking or eating again.  But I got my strength back after the better part of a week, and we made this pie to honor our pie tradition while trying to get back on track to better eating habits.  The recipe came from the August 2016 issue of Prevention.  After much searching, I’ve decided this recipe is not anywhere on the web.  So there’s no link, only the recipe for the crust and the pie as published in my print issue.

The crust came together beautifully in the food processor, although the first time I made it I added too much water.  The dough was very sticky from my mistake, so it took a little longer to chill.  Other than that mishap, it was easy to handle (I used white whole wheat flour), rolled out easily (you can patch it; it’s very forgiving), and baked well (I used this dough as a crust for another pie requiring a pre-baked shell and experienced similar success).

Basic Whole Wheat Pie Dough

In food processor, pulse 2 1/4 C whole wheat flour and 1/2 t kosher salt.  Add 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 4-6 T cold water and pulse until mixture just comes together.  Add more water if necessary but do not overmix.  Divide into 2 equal pieces, wrap each in plastic, and chill at least 30 minutes.

I hate biting into a freshly baked pie only to find that the center of the crust is all soggy and limp.  Though pre-baking is a terrible pain, it’s often worth the effort.  I was dubious that this crust didn’t call for a short pre-bake, but it turned out fully cooked after the filling did its thing.

Cleaned-Up Blueberry Streusel Pie

Serves 10
Prep: 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

6 cups fresh blueberries
1/3  cup tapioca flour
1 T lemon juice
2 t lemon zest
1/8 t nutmeg
3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
1 t cinnamon, divided
pinch salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 T unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 recipe basic whole wheat pie dough

Heat oven to 425°. Combine blueberries, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, 1/2 t of the cinnamon, and the salt.  In a separate bowl, combine oats, almonds, butter, remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and remaining 1/4 t cinnamon.

Roll dough into 12″ round, press into 9″ pie plate, and crimp edges.  Add blueberry filling and top with oat mixture. Bake until topping begins to brown, about 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 375° and tent pie with foil.  Bake until filling bubbles, 40 to 50 more minutes.  Cool before serving.

I realize that this recipe still has a lot of sugar and butter, and struggle with how this pie is justified as “clean,” but we do like our sweet treats in this house (I’m just putting it out there that I know this isn’t a healthy recipe choice, despite the title), so we’ll walk a little bit more after indulging.

Husband and I have executed many a terrible fruit pie fondly (or not so fondly) known as pie soup.  Fruit fillings can be so wet, since you can never count on the water content of the fruit or the amount of juices that can be released.  We met a pie cookbook author at a local book signing, and her recommendation is to pre-cook those fruit fillings on the stovetop with lots of cornstarch.  They magically transform from fruit to filling that literally looks like it came out of a can.  Tapioca flour has the same gelatinizing qualities, so I wasn’t worried about the filling in this pie being soupy.

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We used a disposable pie plate because we cut the recipe in half (we only had 3 cups of blueberries), and it didn’t look like the filling would be enough to fill our favorite deep-dish pie plate.

Verdict: mixed reviews.  We ate the first slices after the pie had chilled overnight, and it was perfectly jelled, slicing like a bakery pie.  However, I felt like the chill dulled the flavor of the filling.  The texture of the crust and the filling was textbook.  The next night we heated the slices in the microwave for 30 seconds or so, and the flavors (the lemon and the blueberry) were more pronounced.  If using this recipe again, I would reduce the tapioca flour by about a tablespoon.  I’d prefer a little juice as opposed to a slice that completely stands up on its own.  I’m definitely using the crust recipe again (there’s a 1/2 batch in my freezer right now, and September’s pie used the other half.  That recipe is a keeper for sure.

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