Easy Pie Crust with Any Fruit Filling
November 19, 2020
It’s not Thanksgiving without pie, but sometimes it can feel like a lot of work to put together the perfect, fancy apple or pumpkin-filled pastry. This year, take the pressure off with the simplest pie you’ll ever make. An easy pie crust that doesn’t need to chill, and can be filled with any of your favorite fruits? That’s one Thanksgiving dish to check off the list this fall.
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This pie is based on my grandmother’s crust. She called it “no-fail,” because it comes together so quickly and easily. I added a few minor adjustments, and then decided to fill it with whatever fruit I had around the house. In my case, there were some pears and plums begging to be baked, and I couldn’t resist. But you can use any of your favorites.
What You Need to Get Started
- Pantry: Flour, Vegetable oil, Apple cider vinegar
- Spice Rack: Salt, Cinnamon, Pumpkin pie spice, Sparkling sugar
- Fridge: Milk
- Produce: Mixed fruit such as pears, apples, peaches, plums, blueberries, or seedless grapes
- Equipment: Mixing bowl, Whisk, Parchment paper, Rolling pin, Pie pan, Paring knife, Pastry brush, Aluminum foil
Let’s Make an Easy Pie Crust
Every pie crust uses some type of fat. Generally, my go-to is butter. However, when working with butter, you have to keep it very cold in order to get a flaky baked crust. I love the flavor that it adds, but when you are looking for a quick pie crust, butter just isn’t the answer. Instead, this crust uses vegetable oil, which is much more forgiving.
Before getting the crust started, preheat the oven. This whole pie comes together fairly quickly, and you don’t want to be waiting on the oven. In a medium mixing bowl, combine together the flour and salt. Whisk until they are uniformly mixed.
Then, add in the liquids: vegetable oil, milk, and apple cider vinegar. I have always loved the flavor that vinegar adds to pie crust. Just a little bit of tang that really accents the fruity filling. The milk helps provide a liquid and a little bit of sweetness and richness itself.
Stir everything together. You can start with a spoon or a silicone spatula, but the dough will get thick as the flour is incorporated into the liquids. If it gets too tough to stir, I suggest that you switch to your hands. For a shortcut, you can also use a food processor until the dough sticks together.
Once it’s uniform, split the dough into two equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Set one piece aside, and place the other between two sheets of parchment paper on a work surface.
One trick I like is to draw a circle on the parchment paper, so you can easily visualize the size of your pie pan. You can trace the pan, making the circle just slightly larger. Just be sure the pencil marking is on the side opposite the dough.
Then grab your rolling pin, and begin to roll out the crust. The parchment will help the dough roll evenly by distributing the pressure. Plus, it can save you some dishwashing time later.
When the crust is ready, transfer it to your pie pan. An easy way to move the rolled crust is by gently wrapping it around the rolling pin. You can also use the parchment paper to help you position the crust, and then peel it off.
Use your fingers to press the crust into the corners of the pan. This dough is very forgiving. If you notice any holes, it’s easy to patch them up. Just grab a ragged edge piece, and press it into place with damp fingers.
Roll out the second piece of dough for the top crust in the same way, and set it aside. If you’d like to use cookie cutters to make shapes in the top, this is a good time to do that as well. Otherwise, you can add vents later.
How to Make Any Fruit Pie
Now it’s time to move on to the filling! The fun part of making any fruit pie is that you never quite know how it might turn out. In general, it will be delicious. But will you get the sweetness of peaches, the tartness of apples, or the tannins of plum and grapes?
It’s also a great way to use up any fruit you may have that is right on the edge. You know the ones: pieces of fruit that you don’t want to eat fresh. Maybe they have some bad spots that need to be cut off, but are still mostly good. These fruits tend to be a bit overripe, which can add extra sweetness.
There is also an opportunity to use “seconds” from your local farm. These are the fruits that the farmers can’t always sell because of their imperfections. You can usually save some money. And once they are inside the pie, no one will know!
In my pie, I used a combination of Bosc and Bartlett pears along with Italian prune plums. It ended up being a good combination of sweet and tart, with a nice balance of textures once baked.
Cut your fruit into one-inch diced pieces, placing it in a large measuring cup as you go, until you reach four cups. A little bit more or less is fine. Toss it all in a large bowl with the flour and spices.
Flour will help absorb some of the liquid while cooking, and will help your filling to thicken up as the pie cools. For spices, I decided to use cinnamon and a pumpkin pie blend. We are keeping it super simple. I didn’t use any sugar, but if you are using mostly tart fruits, you can add 1/4 cup of brown sugar.
Mix it all up, until the fruit is nice and coated in everything. Then, transfer all of the filling into the pie pan. Spread it evenly, although it’s okay to have a bit of a hill shape, with the middle higher than the edges.
Place the second crust on top, and use your fingertips to pinch the edges of the crust together. If your bottom crust overlaps the pan, you can fold it over and pinch pieces between your fingers to create a scalloped edge.
If the bottom crust is lower, tuck the top crust in to meet it, and the shape the edges. If you use a ruffled pie pan, it’s super easy to just follow the shape of the pan to get a nice edge.
Use a paring knife to cut a few vent holes if you didn’t use cookie cutters before. You can create fun shapes and designs, or just keep it easy with a few half-inch slashes in the dough.
Use a pastry brush to add a bit of milk onto the crust. Get the brush into any dips or corners, and distribute the milk evenly. Then, sprinkle with a dusting of sparkling sugar. Place the pan in the oven and bake for twenty minutes.
After the first twenty, lower the oven temperature to 350F, and cover the edges of the pie with foil. The easiest way to do this is to carefully fold a square of foil in quarters. Then cut a quarter circle shape on the folded edges, about two inches less than the radius of the pie. Open it up, and place it on top of the pan.
Continue baking the pie until the top is a light golden brown, and the fruit filling is bubbling through the vents. If you are not sure whether it’s done or not, check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Once it’s 195F or higher, you are good to go.
Whether you need an emergency pie, or you are looking to use up some extra fruit, this easy pie with any-fruit filling is sure to be a winner!
How to Serve an Easy Fruit Pie
Allow the pie to cool completely before cutting it. Otherwise, the filling won’t fully set up, and you may get some runny juices. You can heat individual slices to serve them warm, and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
Obviously, this pie is perfect for Thanksgiving. If your house is the place to be this season, be sure to check out my guide on hosting a holiday dinner. If your plans this holiday season are looking a little different, then this pie is also delicious as a dessert any other day.
Try it paired with a fun fall coffee, like a candy corn latte macchiato, or for something with more kick, and almond Irish coffee hot cocoa. It would also pair excellently with a sweet cocktail like a chocolate turtle martini.
Use Up Leftover Fruit
No matter what type of fruit you are using in this pie, there’s always another delicious recipe if you still have some extra. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
- Apples: Caramel apple no-bake cheesecake or apple butter brioche cinnamon rolls
- Peaches: Peach and corn crisp or peach cobbler sticky buns
- Plums: Plum jam cookie bars or a honey pavlova with chai-poached plums
- Pears: Pear tart bars with goat cheese crumble or hot pear cider with cinnamon
- Strawberries: Strawberry ice cream sundaes or a strawberry rhubarb crumble
- Cherries: Cherry cobbler with sour milk biscuit topping or cherry chocolate chip cookies
Easy Pie Crust with Any Fruit Filling
- 1 Cup Flour
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ Cup Vegetable Oil
- ¼ Cup Milk plus more for brushing
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 4 Cups Diced Fruit see recipe note
- ¼ Cup Flour
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice see recipe note
- ½ tsp Sparkling Sugar optional
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add in the oil, milk, and vinegar and stir. You can start with a spoon, but once it combines, it's easiest to use your hands until it forms into a uniform dough.
- Separate the dough into two pieces, and roll each out into a 11-inch diameter circle, between two sheets of parchment paper. A trick is to draw a circle on the parchment, so you can easily see the size. Wet your fingers to patch any holes, if needed.
- Set aside one piece, and place the other into a 9-inch pie pan. To easily transfer the crust, loosely wrap it around your rolling pin.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the fruit with the flour and spices until thoroughly combined. Dump the fruit mixture into the pie pan. Then cover with the other crust. Use a paring knife to cut a few vent holes in the top crust.
- Pinch the edges of the crusts together, If you have excess crust trim it or fold it over, and pinch between your fingers to create a ruffle effect. If you use a ruffled pan, you can easily follow the shape of the pan for the crust.
- Brush the top crust with milk, and then sprinkle with sparkling sugar if desired. Bake for 20 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350°F, cover the outer crust with aluminum foil, and bake for 40-50 more minutes, until the fruit filling is bubbling through the vents, and the top crust is a light golden brown.
- Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- Fruit: You can use any combination of pie fruit in this recipe. I love mixed fruit pies, and they always come out delicious. Pear, plums, apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, rhubarb, seedless grapes, and blueberries will all work well. I used a 50/50 combo of pears and plums.
- Spices: To keep things simple, I suggest using a pre-mixed pie seasoning, like pumpkin or apple. However, you can use any combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice for your own flavor.
- If you prefer a single crust pie, halve the crust recipe. Or use it as is to make two pies. You can top fruit pies with any type of streusel instead of a second crust.