Quick Bite: Upper Crust
Discover 3.14 Pies’ Cran-Peary Crumble, plus tips on crafting a delicious crust
“Pies are often seen as grandmas’ specialties,” says 3.14 Pies co-owner Brent Doolittle. “We want to make them hip again.” Since moving to Charleston in 2009, he and wife Lindsay, a Summerville native, have been working to do just that, turning out creations like the Velvet Elvis (caramelized bananas, vanilla crème, and organic peanut butter mousse), the s’mores-inspired Campfire Pie, and the Salted Rim Margarita.
The pair arrived from Chicago with only the culinary training they’d picked up while baking with their moms and grandmas. Noticing that there weren’t any pastry shops in the Holy City focusing on pies, they founded 3.14 last March. Their unique sweets—which use all-natural, organic, and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible—quickly earned spots at Caviar & Bananas, Ted’s Butcherblock, Café Medley, and more.
When asked for a perfect-for-fall recipe, they offered the first pie they ever baked together: the Cran-Peary Crumble. “We made it in our tiny Chicago kitchen to pass the time on a cold day before Thanksgiving. It became a Doolittle holiday tradition,” says Lindsay.
If you want to bake one as memorable as theirs, this pair says there’s no skipping a homemade crust. “It’s impossible for a frozen pie shell to emulate the tenderness and flakiness of a from-scratch version,” notes Brent. “For a super flaky crust, chill your water in the freezer for five minutes before adding it to the flour and butter mixture. Even better, also chill your butter for 10 minutes before incorporating it.”
Another trick of the trade? Instead of using flour, roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap. “Be sure to flip it between rolls and replace the wrap when it begins to wrinkle,” instructs Lindsay. “The less you mess with it, the flakier it will be, so pull out those upper body muscles and get it done in five or six rolls.” For an easy transfer of the dough to the pie plate, remove the top piece of wrap, place the plate upside down on the dough, and use your hand to flip it all over.
“You’ll end up with a truly artisanal creation,” says Brent. “The beautiful colors in this pie make it perfect for fall holidays.”
For Cran-Peary Crumb Pie:
(Makes a 9-inch pie)
- 2 large Anjou or Barlett pears, peeled and cubed into ½ inch chunks (about 3 cups)
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 1/6 cup packed light brown sugar, divided
- 2 ½ Tbs. cornstarch
- 1 unbaked 9-inch basic butter pie crust
- 3/4 cup oats
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 Tbs. butter, chilled and cubed into small pieces
For Basic Butter Pie Crust:
(Makes a 9-inch crust)
- 5 Tbs. ice-cold water
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 Tbs. sugar
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
For Cran-Peary Crumb Pie:
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Combine the pears, cranberries, 2/3 cup brown sugar, and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Toss with a wooden spoon or spatula until cornstarch is no longer visible as a powder.
Spoon the mixture into crust. Place in fridge while you make the topping.
Combine oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, spices, and salt in a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into this mixture until texture is coarse.
Remove pie from fridge and sprinkle topping over the pear and cranberry mixture.
Bake at 350˚F for one hour or until topping is brown and filling bubbles out the top. You should smell the topping baking, but if it begins to smell burnt in any way, remove from oven immediately. Cool away from any heat source for at least two hours before serving.
For Basic Butter Pie Crust:
Place water in freezer to cool.
Add flour, sugar, and salt to a large bowl. Give the dry ingredients a quick stir to evenly combine.
Remove butter from fridge and coat with the dry mixture. Using a large knife or dough scraper, cut the butter lengthwise into two pieces, then quarter the two pieces, coating each new cube with the flour mixture as you go. Work quickly to ensure ingredients stay cold. If you feel your butter is loosening up, put it back in the fridge for a few minutes, then continue.
Toss butter into flour mixture.
If using a pastry cutter, press the blades through the mixture repeatedly until the largest piece of butter is the size of a small pea. Do not over-mix.
If using a food processor, add butter and flour mixture to processor and pulse only a few times until largest piece of butter is pea-sized. Do not over-process or leave in the “on” position. Transfer butter and flour mixture to bowl.
Ensure that ingredients are still properly chilled, then, slowly add some water to the mixture and knead using your hands. Continue adding small amounts of water until there are no more chunks of flour remaining (you may not need to use all five tablespoons of water). Make sure the dough can be kneaded into a ball. If not, use a bit more water until it barely holds together. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge. Let set for at least 30 minutes before rolling.
To roll, place the dough on a fresh piece of plastic wrap. Place a second piece of plastic wrap on top. Flipping the dough occasionally and replacing the wrap when it becomes wrinkled, roll into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Try to do this in five or six rolls.
To transfer the dough to the pie plate, remove the top piece of wrap, then place the plate upside down on the dough. Slide one hand underneath the dough, hold the bottom of the plate with the other, and flip dough into plate. Gently press dough down into the bottom and sides of the plate.