Berry Crumble Pie and Gardening Highlights

Whenever I’m out in Colorado I do a lot of baking. Mostly because my man-hunk has a bit of a sweet tooth, and I have lots of extra time on my hands, so what better way to spend it than in the kitchen? ;) Yesterday I whipped up a delicious berry crumble pie, that turned out moist, sweet, slightly tart and delicious. I used whole wheat pastry flour for the crust and agave nectar to sweeten. There are a plethora of articles out there dissing agave syrup, claiming that it’s still a processed sugar, however I still use it on occasion and stick to raw agave, which means it shouldn’t be heated above a temperature of 118 degrees. Even this may not be guaranteed, so if you want to know the absolute truth you can contact the individual manufacturer. But no matter the claims, agave syrup is still much lower on the glycemic index meaning it won’t make your blood sugar spike as much as regular sugar, so I use it in moderation.

Instead of a regular pie, I was inspired to make a crumble pie after seeing this recipe posted by Noelle @ Opera Singer in the Kitchen. She made an apple crumble pie using coconut oil. I love coconut oil and use it in lots of baked goods. For more info on coconut oil check out this post. So I took Noelle’s idea and ran with it! Here’s what I came up with, a Berry Crumble Pie High Altitude Recipe!

Berry Crumble Pie Ingredients: For the filling: 4 c. berries (if using frozen, allow to thaw for at least 30 minutes) 1/2 c. agave nectar syrup 1 tbs. lemon juice 1 tsp. cinnamon 1/4 c. corn starch For the crust: 2 c. whole wheat pastry flour 2 tbs. sugar 1 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 c. coconut oil 1/3 c. Earth Balance margarine ice cold water For the crumble topping:  1/3 c. coconut oil 1/2 c. brown sugar 2/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour 1/2 c. chopped pecans 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 tsp. nutmeg Print this recipe 1. Combine berries and the rest of the filling ingredients in large mixing bowl. If you want you can add a little orange or lemon zest for additional flavor. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, or using a stand-up electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
The secret to a really good and flaky pie crust is to use ice cold ingredients. Take the margarine directly out of the fridge, and do not allow it to thaw. My grandmother taught me a trick that involves placing the entire mixing bowl into the freezer (including the flour). Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes until cold, then remove and add the margarine. Another secret is do not over-mix the ingredients. Doing it by hand is usually the best way, but it’s also quite messy, so I usually opt for my stand-up mixer. I use the paddle attachment and mix at low speeds.
3. Add coconut oil (room temperature) and cold margarine to the dry ingredients. Mix on low until crust is just combined and begins to crumble. Add ice cold water to crust, one tablespoon at a time, until a dough ball is formed.  Remove from mixing bowl, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
4. While dough is cooling, you can make the crumble topping. Simply combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until a crumbled mixture is formed. You may need to add a little more flour if crumbs are too large.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough from fridge and roll out to about 1/4″ thick round crust using a floured rolling pin. Another trick for pie making is to roll out the crust over a surface area covered with plastic wrap. I find this always works a little better than a floured surface.
6. Flip dough upside-down into 9″ pie pan.
7. Remove plastic and mold dough into desired shape around rim of the pie pan. Cut off excess dough. You can see the little chunks of coconut oil in this picture.
8. Lightly dust the bottom and sides of your pie crust with a mixture of equal parts sugar:cornstarch. This will prevent the pie filling from making the crust soggy while cooking.
9. Fill pie with berry filling and top with a thick layer of crumble topping. Cover the pie with aluminum foil and bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cooking time may vary; I made this pie at a 10,000 feet elevation, and everything takes a bit longer up here!
10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.

This pie would be delicious using any combination in the filling. I used a pre-mixed frozen package of berries containing strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. You can also use fresh berries or even add some chopped rhubarb in the mix. There is nothing better than a strawberry rhubarb pie!! Mmmmm!! You could also use even less sweetener in the filling. I think it would have been just as delicious with only 1/4 c. of agave syrup, but that is entirely up to you.

In other news, my man-hunk and I have been doing a little gardening this week. We took a Home Depot trip yesterday and picked up some pretty additions for the flower garden. A bit of a mix between perennials and annuals. The annuals are always cheaper but they won’t come back next year, so he prefers to plant perennials. Right now the garden has some lovely poppies, columbines and lavender, and they just started to bloom this week. Let me remind you that just 3 weeks ago it was still snowing up here!

We’ll be adding some more lavender, petunias, snapdragons, fresh herbs, delphinium, a sweet pepper plant and… the luxurious foxglove. Okay time for a funny story… As soon as my eyes caught sight of this flowering beauty, I begged kindly asked Adam to get some for the garden. It was absolutely stunningly gorgeous, with little finger-puppet-like flowers, and a tag that boasted attracts hummingbirds and bumble bees.

But it was a little pricer than all of the other perennials, so we both hesitated. In fact, this plant went in and out of the cart about three or four different times before my eyes pleaded with my man to the point of him finally giving in–to one plant. Better than nothing right? I think I squealed with delight when the plant went back into the cart for the final time. I hate to say it, but I’m a woman, and I love getting my way. ;) So what if it’s a $15 plant? It’s beautiful and the hummingbirds will come flying from miles to visit the garden, I promised him.

As we were packing up the truck, I insisted that my beloved foxglove ride up front with me so that the delicate flowers wouldn’t blow off in the wind. Adam argued with me over this, insisting the plant would be fine, but again I got my way and I squeezed the foxglove between my legs in the front seat, treating it like a baby.

So on the way home I decided to do a little googling on the foxglove to make sure we found the perfect spot for it in the garden. Practically immediately I came across one common word for the foxglove plant (that Home Depot failed to mention)… poison. And not just a little bit, but a lot bit. Let’s put it this way… the leaves, flowers, seeds, stems, pollen and spores are all quite poisonous. Poisonous enough to kill a child if eaten. Poisonous enough to put an adult into the hospital if the pollen or spores are heavily inhaled. Poisonous to deer and other animals, poisonous to dogs, but tolerable to the hummingbirds and the bees who just go after the nectar.

Whoooa! I sheepishly looked over at my man-hunk when he asked me what I uncovered in my research. Then I looked down at my precious foxglove plant that was clutched between my legs, a few inches from my face. Was I breathing in poisonous spores right then and there?

Let’s just say that Adam had a nice long laugh after I told him the sad news. And the rest of the car ride home we were quite entertained reading the horror stories of some foxglove victims. Okay, I know that sounds mean… I wasn’t laughing at the expense of others, I was laughing at my own idiocy at insisting on this plant for our garden, insisting on riding up front with it, and insisting on getting my way in general. Guess I learned my lesson, huh? If you have a few minutes you have to read some of these stories. In the end, after reviewing many different sources, we came to the conclusion that this plant should be handled with care, and it likely can have more intense side effects for those with allergies and sensitivities. Because before I read the bad news, I handled and picked some of the leaves, picked one of the blossoms, sat with the thing between my knees for an hour car ride, and I’m fine. I had no allergic reaction whatsoever. However, we will be handling this lil baby with kid gloves from here on out. And yes, it’s still getting a special place in our flower garden. 


  1. Green Thumb Gardening says:

    Thanks for posting this very informative blogs. It is very important that if have you planning to have a garden in your farm, to follow the good tips because this can help you make the most of your garden today and always.

  2. Sneaky Vegan says:

    I'm so insanely jealous – I don't know whether to covet your oven or your garden more. I just made some no-bake brownies which I fully intend to stuff my face with until I feel better.

    Do you think this pie is good enough that if I break into someone's house to bake it they won't press charges as long as I leave them some?

  3. KateLainey says:

    Ohhh geez, good thing you didn't have an allergic reaction to that…that is crazy! Pretty thing, but dangerous!

    I really want to use your crust recipe for apple pie this fall…that's Zachary's fav pie. :)

    And the picture wedding guest book will be beautiful; that is a really nice wedding gift b/c those things aren't cheap!

  4. Katie says:

    This pie looks great! Crumbles remind me so much of summer… I usually make at least one a year, using whatever fruit we've got. So refreshing!

  5. veganaphrodite says:

    Oh wow, this pie looks stunning! I like that it has both a crust and crumble on the top!
    I agree about your thoughts on agave. I only use it when I really need it in a recipe. And though it is not a “perect” food, I still think it is way better than white sugar :)

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