The Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge

No sooner had I posted last week’s story about Blueberry Buttermilk Pie than I began to feel a little twitch of guilt about purchasing fresh blueberries for said pie. 

Freezer Fruit Pie at The Pie

Yes, they were only a few bucks. But I’m a frugal by osmosis. The son of depression era parents simply doesn’t waste frozen fruit, even odd little baggies of it scattered across the freezer like castoffs from a doomed Arctic expedition. 

So I took a vow and challenged myself – and now I’m challenging you – not to buy any more fresh pie fruit until I repurposed these remnants and gave them a proper sendoff. 

Courtesy of Ken Haedrich, Dean of The Pie Academy

Every reputable challenge needs a catchy name – remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? – so I decided to give this repurposing exercise a good one. I called it the Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge. Catchy title or not, it’s hard to know if the challenge will resonate. On the one hand, I’m not asking anyone to pour a bucket of cold water on themselves. On the other, turning barely identifiable lumps of frozen fruit into something for dessert may not be your idea of time well spent on a gorgeous spring day.

It won’t help my cause to tell you that my own Freezer Fruit Pie wasn’t my best effort as a pie maker. I didn’t use a recipe and I’m not going to provide one either – that’s part of the challenge. I’m counting on you to use your pie maker’s intuition and Pie Academy chops to distinguish yourself. I will, however, give you some feedback on my own pie so you can learn from my missteps. 

Beginning with the fruit. As you can see in the photo, I used strawberries, cranberries, and blackberries, all frozen. I also tossed in a small handful of fresh blueberries left over from the aforementioned blueberry pie. 

Courtesy Ken Haedrich, Dean of The Pie Academy

Not surprisingly, the berries were covered with ice crystals, which made the pie way way too runny in the end. (It’s not too evident in the photo because I chilled the pie thoroughly before I sliced it.) The runny-ness could have been avoided with more cornstarch, which I underestimated by at least a tablespoon. 

An even bigger disappointment was not using enough sugar. Apparently spending a year in the freezer does little to enhance the sweetness of fruit. An additional 3 or 4 tablespoons would have helped quite a bit. 

I did add lemon juice and zest, but again, the pie could have used more. Also, the pie took at least 25% longer to bake than usual, because the fruit was still partially frozen when the pie went into the oven. 

Freezer Fruit Pie courtesy Ken Haedrich, dean of The Pie Academy

The finished pie tasted okay – my wife Bev liked it more than I did – but I think she was just being nice. I thought the crust upstaged the filling by a long shot.

So now it’s your turn. Are you up for the challenge? 

If so, you have until May 20th to hop aboard and bake a Freezer Fruit Pie. Use one fruit, or five – it’s up to you. Top crust or crumb crust. The rules are pretty flexible. Send me a photo of your pie and a synopsis of what you did, your approach, and how it turned out. Don’t send a full recipe; just sketch it out. Be honest. Keep it short and informative. My wife Bev and I will pick a winner from among the entries, but since I’m uncertain what the winning criteria will be, I can’t be much help here. I’ll do my best to post photos of some of your pies. 

The winner will receive an autographed copy of my latest book, The Harvest Baker.  And two additional winners will receive free access to my brand new upcoming pie course, which I’ll tell you more about in a week or two.

I look forward to hearing from you.