Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pi Day Post: Black Cherry Almond Pie with Vegan Olive Oil Pie Crust

If you’ve never heard of it before, Pi day is a pun-tastic holiday in which math nerds around the internet make pies and decorate them with mathematic symbols and numbers in honor of Pi--the circumference-to-diameter ratio of a circle that makes appearances in geometry classes everywhere--and post pictures for other enthusiasts to admire. It’s celebrated on March 14, because the date 3-14 matches up with pi’s first three digits.

It’s always fun to see what people come up with. You get some very creative and non-traditional offerings.

Here I’ve posted my latest vegan pie crust recipe, which comes out fairly flaky and tender despite using olive oil instead of butter or shortening. I often just use crumb crusts for pies, but for Pi Day you need a dough you can sculpt and decorate with.

The filling is Black Cherry, which tastes great and has good color contrast against the crust decorations (these things matter : ). The almond crumb topping may seem a little redundant, and does obscure the lattice a little, but it tastes so good I couldn’t resist. Cherry and almond are best friends, you know.

Pi Day!

Vegan Olive Oil Pie Crust:

This makes enough for one lattice/cutout topped pie with a bottom crust. 

Dry ingredients:
1 ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp sugar or sweetener

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract

Mix together dry ingredients. Take 1 ¼ cups of the resulting mixture (reserve the rest) and combine it with the oil. It should look like peanut butter. Put the oil mixture in the freezer for 1-2 hours.

Flour and frozen lumps
When the time is up, take it out of the freezer. Pinch or cut it into pinto bean sized lumps. Add the lumps to the reserved flour mixture and stir to coat. Combine water, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract. Pour into the bowl with the flour and lumps. Stir with a spatula until combined into a shaggy ball. Chill the dough for 20 minutes.

olive oil pastry dough
When the 20 minutes are up, take your dough ball and divide it into 2 pieces, one about 2/3 of the dough and the other 1/3. The dough will appear somewhat swirly and marbled; this is normal and contributes to a flaky texture.

Using flour as needed, roll out the 2/3 piece into a roughly 12-inch circle 1/8 inch thick. I used a silicon pastry mat, which made the process much easier. Transfer circle of dough to your pie plate and gently press it into place. Do NOT stretch the dough.

Pressed into the pie plate

Roll out the other piece of dough and cut into strips for a lattice, and/or make cutouts to top pie with.

Next, prepare filling and assemble.

A slice of Black Cherry-Almond Pi(e)

Black Cherry Pie


Vegan olive oil pie crust (above)

2 lbs frozen black or sweet cherries, thawed and drained
½ cup sugar or sweetener
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup flour
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract

Almond Crumb Topping:
3 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp almond meal (packed)
½ Tbsp sliced almonds
dash salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp sugar/sweetener
2 tsp oil
1 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Thaw and drain your cherries; if it is convenient you can cut some or all of them in half—this helps with the final texture and is also an opportunity to check for stray pits. It’s not mandatory though. Mix the cherries with the rest of the filling ingredients.

Stir together all crumb topping ingredients except for oil and water. Pour in the oil and water while tossing the dry ingredients with a fork. Crumble with your fingers until it looks like wet sand. Set aside.

Cherry filling in pie shell

To assemble: Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell, arrange lattice and cutouts on top and sprinkle with topping. I chose to place the lattice in a geometric ring pattern, put a pi cutout in the middle (for Pi Day!) and sprinkle the topping around the edges. 

Pi Cutout + lattice ring

With almond crumb topping

Bake for 45 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbly. Let cool for half an hour before cutting.

Happy Pi Day, everybody! Math is fun! (And delicious. : )
Partially decimated

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