This recipe is an ode to summer berries at a time of year that often still feels like the dead of winter, at least on produce shelves. Every March when Pi Day comes around, all we can think about is a berry pie. As we wait, sometimes desperately, for spring to settle in, we want a pie full of fresh summer fruit and all the warm weather associated with it. But a good berry pie requires just that, fresh summer fruit. March 14th is not summer. It’s not even spring. Summer berries are not available at prices low enough to buy the approximately eight cups of berries we need to decently fill a pie. We’ve toyed with the idea of a frozen-fruit pie in the past, but usually end up nowhere. Frozen fruit is tricky because the additional water content it adds to the fruit mix leaves the crust soggy and the filling unable to set up.
But this Pi Day, Chef Grace was determined to have berry pie. To absorb the extra water, she added chia seeds to the mix and switched up the cooking method. Simmering the fruit and adding chia seeds creates a fruity, thick, jam-like filling. The filling gets tucked into a whole wheat and rye crust that gets a little extra caramelization from the brown sugar in the dough. She also turned this pie into hand pies to avoid any worry about a soggy bottom pie. Hopefully you’ll take a bite and sink into summer. If we can get a summery pie out of our oven in March, maybe we’ll feel the warm weather that much sooner!
Chia Berry Hand Pies with Whole Wheat, Rye, and Brown Sugar Crust
For the pie crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup rye flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tablespoon light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup ice water
For the chia berry filling:
8 cups frozen mixed berries
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup corn starch
½ cup chia seeds
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large eggs
Coarse or granulated sugar or sugar in the raw
2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper
pastry brush (for egg wash)
fork (for crimping and dipping)
sharp knife (to make slits)
A round cookie cutter (about 3 inches in diameter; you can also use the top of a large water glass to cut your dough)
Make Pie Crust
1. Grate 4 tablespoons butter using the large holes of box grater, arrange on a plate in a single layer, and place in freezer. Cut remaining 16 tablespoons butter into ½-inch cubes and place in a large bowl.
2. Add whole-wheat flour, sugar, and salt to bowl with cubed butter. Using your hands, or a pastry blender until combined, mix (or squeeze butter pieces between fingers), until a uniform paste forms. Add all-purpose flour and mix until flour is evenly distributed and clumps together into pea-sized pieces.
3. Add grated butter and toss with the flour mixture until all butter pieces are separated and coated with flour.
4. Sprinkle ¼ cup ice water over mixture. Mix lightly with rubber spatula until water is absorbed and evenly distributed. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup ice water over mixture and press dough together with spatula until dough sticks together.
5. Divide dough into 2 portions and transfer each to a sheet of plastic wrap. Working with 1 portion at a time, use plastic wrap to press firmly on sides and top to form compact disc about 5 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
6. Let chilled dough sit on counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes, before rolling.
1. Place frozen fruit in a large pot over medium-high heat. Continue to heat, stirring frequently, until fruit is completely thawed and is beginning to break down, 6-8 minutes.
2. While fruit is thawing, place cornstarch in a small bowl. Sprinkle over 3 tablespoons of water and stir to combine until a thin paste forms (making a paste out of the cornstarch prevents it from clumping up when added to the fruit mixture).
3. Add cornstarch paste and light brown sugar to berries and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until mixture begins to thicken, 3-4 more minutes.
4. Add chia seeds and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick and jammy, 2-3 more minutes.
5. Remove chia berry jam from heat and stir in vanilla extract and lemon juice. Cool in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Assemble and Bake Hand Pies
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place 1 disc of dough on a well-floured counter and roll out to about ⅛ inch thick, lifting and rotating dough while you roll it, to make sure that it’s the same thickness all around. Using cookie cutter, cut as many rounds as possible from the dough and transfer them to 1 of the parchment-lined baking sheets. Transfer to refrigerator and chill the dough rounds until you need them. Repeat the process with the second portion of dough.
2. Crack eggs into a small bowl and scramble with a fork. On one baking sheet, brush the edges of all dough rounds with egg wash. Add 1 tablespoon of chia berry jam to the middle of each egg-washed round.
3. Top chia berry jam with chilled dough rounds from second baking sheet. Using your fingers, pinch the edges of the dough rounds together to seal. Using a fork, press the folded edge down to crimp.
4. Brush the top of each had pie with egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar. Using a knife, make a small slit in the center of the hand pie to release steam.
5. Transfer sheet tray to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow hand pies to cool for 15-20 minutes before eating.
Story contributed by Plated Recipe Development Manager Grace Pescatello.
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