Introduction: Berries and Cream Breakfast Pie

About: Experimental Crafter, Introverted-Intuitive-Thinking Personality Type

Breakfast Pie?

Yeah, it’s kind of like a fruit, granola, and yogurt parfait in pie form. It has a unique rolled oat and brown sugar crust, a layer of creamy cheese cake, and it’s topped by a layer of glazed fresh fruit.

This is really 3 recipes:
1) Rolled Oat and Brown Sugar Pie Crust (Gluten Free)
2) No Bake Cheese Cake
3) Fresh Fruit Glaze

Note: Each recipe is enough for one pie. So if you follow the full recipes as is, it will make only one crust but enough filling for two pies. I just made two crusts to house all the fillings. Each recipe can also be used independently of each other.

Step 1: History

Photo: A single day’s berry harvest from my mom’s garden from when I as a kid. Circa 1990.

Growing up, my mom had a huge garden! And berries made up the bulk of it.

Strawberries = 9 (50 foot rows)
Blueberries = 20+ bushes
Raspberries = 2 (50 foot rows)

And Boysenberries....
and Marionberries....
and because we lived in the Pacific Northwest, tons of wild blackberries and huckleberries.

And during summer vacation, just about every morning my sisters and I were assigned the task of picking the berries before we were allowed to go down to the river and go swimming.

My mom would preserve the berries by freezing, dehydrating, making jams, jellies, and fruit leather, but she would also make fresh berry pies. It was delightful coming home from a hot an exhausting day to find a cool and juicy slice of pie with a dollop of whipped cream waiting for you. She always made enough that there was some for breakfast the next morning, hence my association with calling it breakfast pie.

I came across some amazing strawberries the other day and called my mom for her recipe. I do it about every other year because I misplace the scrap of paper on which I wrote the previous directions. I also do this with her cheese cake recipe, so I thought I would just combine the 2 recipes into one pie and document the whole process so I that wouldn’t have to harass her anymore.

Step 2: My Epic Fails: What NOT to Do!

I made 7 pies during the course of writing this Instructable and I suspect I made every possible mistake. So here is a quick list of what NOT to do.

1) Don’t wait too long to glaze your fruit (photo 1). I got distracted cutting up a Greek salad on my first attempt and let the mixture cool too much so that it was thick and gloopy and impossible to apply. Yuck!

2) Make sure to have the lid on the blender when you turn it on if you don’t want it all over you and the counter (photo 2).

3) If you just dump the gelatin straight into the hot mix, it might not dissolve right and give you giant gooey gummy lumps (photo 3).

4) Make sure the water is cold and the corn starch is well mixed before adding it to the heat or you will get unappetizing white lumps (photo 4).

Step 3: Ingredients and Quick Full Recipe

Here is the whole recipe in one step without all the extra commentary and pictures:

Rolled Oat and Brown Sugar Crust
1 1/2 cup Rolled Oats
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
4 tbs Butter + extra to butter pan
* a bit of cinnamon can be good depending on the pie filling

Mix all ingredients together, dump mixture into buttered pie pan and press into bottom and sides to form crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. Set aside to cool.

No-Bake Cheese Cake
1 Cup Boiling Water
1 Tbs of Lemon Juice (fresh or bottled)
1 Package of 1/4 oz unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup Sugar
16 oz of Cream Cheese (2 Standard Packages, roughly cut into square inch cubes)

In blender add boiling water, sugar, and gelatin. Blend on low until sugar is dissolved. Speed up blender, slowly adding cream cheese. Blend until it looks smooth. Pour into pie crust, and chill for approximately one hour.

Fruit Glaze
Fruit (enough to cover surface of pie with at least 1 layer, varies depending on fruit)
1 Package of Flavored Gelatin (match flavor to complement fruit)
1 cup hot water + 1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Tbs of Lemon Juice (optional)
2-3 Tbs of Cornstarch

Arrange fruit in pie pan. Heat 1 cup of water with 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice, and package of Flavored Gelatin on stove until simmering, stirring occasionally. In separate container, mix 2-3 Tbs of corn starch with 1/2 cup of cold water until smooth. Slowly mix with hot Jello mixture until it thickens and becomes semi transparent again. Turn off heat and let cool a bit.

When still warm, but not hot, drizzle and pour over fruit.

Refrigerate until set.

Step 4: Equipment

Save for maybe the blender, nothing really out of the ordinary is needed.

  • Blender*
  • 2- 9.5 inch pie dishes (I’ve tried glass, metal, and even spring form.)
  • Oven
  • Refrigerator (or other method of chilling)
  • Set of Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing Bowl(s)
  • Spatula/Stirring Utensils
  • Silicone Brush
  • Citrus Juicer
  • Strainer

* I didn’t try using anything but the blender, but I suspect a mixer/beater would work well too, it just might take a bit longer.

Step 5: Rolled Oat Crust: Ingredients

1 1/2 cup Rolled Oats
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
4 tbs Butter + extra to butter pan
* a bit of cinnamon can be good depending on the pie filling

Step 6: Rolled Oat Crust: Prep Work

Liberally butter pan or pie dish.
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 7: Rolled Oat Crust: Mixing

In a bowl, combine oats and brown sugar and stir until evenly mixed.

Next add either softened butter or melted butter* and mix until ingredients are evenly distributed and forming clumps.

* I tried using both softened and melted butter and I’m not sure which one was better. I feel the softened butter made it easier to form into the crust, but the melted butter seemed to dissolve the sugar better and maybe made a stronger crust in the end. Either way seems to work well enough.

Step 8: Rolled Oat Crust: Forming

Dump mixture into pie dish.

Spread out evenly across surface.

Press mixture into the sides and bottom of pie dish.

A fork or glass can be useful tools to help tamp and press the mixture.

Step 9: Rolled Oat Crust: Baking

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes.

Set aside to cool and solidify as it will likely be soft and pliable straight out of the oven. This is a last opportunity to fix any sides that have fallen or slumped during the baking process. Just be careful and use a tool as it is very hot at this point.

Step 10: Rolled Oat Crust: Alternatives

As I mentioned earlier, I made 7 pies during the writing of this Instructable and I tried out different things on each of them.

Some of the things I tried relating to the crust were:

Glass Pie Dish vs Metal Spring Form Pan- The crust in the metal pan came out considerably darker and the brown sugar and butter seemed to really be bubbling when I pulled it out of the oven.

Sprouted Oats vs Regular Oats- The sprouted Oats had a slightly elongated appearance. I also used them in the metal spring form pan, and it could have also contributed to the darker appearance.

Only Whole Rolled Oats vs Rolled Oats with Flour- I ground about 1/4 of a cup of Oats into a flour and mixed them back in. The result was that there was then not enough volume to cover the surface of the pie dish and I had to remix it again with another 1/4 of a cup of whole oats. Coming out of the oven, the crust with the flour was extra soft and all the sides had slumped considerably in the baking process. It seemed a bit more stable than the non-flour crusts after it cooled though.

Step 11: Cheese Cake Layer: Ingredients

1 Cup Boiling Water
1 Tbs of Lemon Juice
1 Package of 1/4 oz unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup Sugar
16 oz of Cream Cheese (2 Standard Packages)

Step 12: Cheese Cake Layer: Prep Work

Juice Lemon if you are using fresh lemon juice. 1/2 of a lemon should be enough. A little lemon juice is also nice in the glaze, so juice now and set aside for later.

Add gelatin to sugar and mix well (Having the gelatin premixed with the sugar prevents it from forming gooey lumps when added to the liquid).

Cut cream cheese blocks into smaller pieces (approximately 1 inch cubes).*

*My mother never does this, instead she just pinches off small chunks. I personally don’t like to have the cream cheese smeared all over my fingers, and you might not either. If you think that might be something you actually enjoy, you can skip this step. I won’t judge ;)

Step 13: Cheese Cake Layer: Mixing

In blender add boiling water, sugar, and gelatin.

Blend until sugar is dissolved.

Slowly add all the chunks of cream cheese.

Blend until it looks smooth.

WARNING: Make sure the lid is in place when starting, stopping, or altering speed on the blender or you might get a messy explosion all over yourself and work surface. Once the blender got up to speed, it seemed safe enough to have the lid off. After the explosion I was cautious though, and just lifted the lid enough to drop in the chunks of cream cheese. I think many models come with a removable center portion of the lid, used for adding things while running.

Step 14: Cheese Cake Layer: Pour and Chill

Slowly pour cream cheese mixture into prepared pie crusts, making sure to distribute evenly between the two.

Chill for approximately 1 hour until set.

Step 15: Fruit Glaze: Ingredients

Fruit (enough to cover the surface of the pie)*
1 Package of Flavored Gelatin**
1 cup hot water + 1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup Sugar***
1 Tbs of Lemon Juice (optional)
2-3 Tbs of Cornstarch

* Thoughts on Fruit Selection: Most berries work well in this pie, as do slices of soft stone fruit like peaches and nectarines. Fruit can also be combined to make some fun combinations.

** Match flavor to complement fruit, in this case strawberry to go with the strawberries. Also, I found that different brands have dramatically different thickening times. For example, the Simply Delish brand’s formulation thickened much faster than the Jell-O brand. Just something to keep in mind.

*** My mom said that she likes to add a little more sugar for super tart fruit like Raspberries.

Step 16: Fruit Glaze: Prep Work

Clean and process fruit. In this case, I washed and hulled the strawberries. You can also slice the fruit, as I did with the strawberries in the second pie.

Arrange the fruit in an attractive manner across the surface of the now set cream cheese layer, and set aside.

Mix 2 to 3 Tbs of cornstarch into 1/2 cup of COLD water.*

*See the “What NOT To Do” section on why it needs to be cold.

Step 17: Fruit Glaze: Heat and Mix

In a small sauce pan heat 1 cup of water with 1 Tbs of lemon juice, the gelatin mix, and 1/2 cup of sugar.

When it reaches a simmer/gentle boil, begin to slowly drizzle the cornstarch and cold water into the hot mixture, stirring well.

When the cornstarch is cooked, it will become more translucent and the mixture will slightly thicken. At this point turn off the heat, and allow it to cool a bit. When it is still warm, but no longer hot, proceed to glaze the fruit.

Step 18: Fruit Glaze: Alternative

I tested out two alternatives to using a prepackaged flavored gelatin, as I don’t particularly like artificial flavors and colors:

1) Substitute the water with fruit juice.* I tried a pomegranate and cherry juice because I liked the dark color. It seemed to work well. Instead of adding a package of flavored gelatin, mix a packet of plain gelatin with the 1/2 cup of sugar and then add it to fruit juice.

2)Cook down fruit. I took about 8-12 oz of the blemished, overly ripe, and misshaped pieces of fruit and simmered it on low with 1 1/2 cups of water for about 30 minutes to an hour. The first time I did this I cooked it with the sugar, but then had trouble incorporating the gelatin without lumps. I strained the resulting pulp from the liquid, and then used it in place of water. I was also too impatient and didn’t wait for the liquid to become cold enough for the cornstarch step and ended up with cornstarch lumps because of it. So I wouldn't cook it with sugar, instead I would wait and replace the artificially flavored package of gelatin with a single packet of plain gelatin premixed with the 1/2 cup of sugar.

* Don’t pick anything too acidic. The acidity inhibits the ability of the protein in the gelatin to link, and your mixture might not set properly.

Step 19: Fruit Glaze: Application Method 1

The purpose of the glaze is 4 parts:
1) As a binder to hold the pieces of the pie together.
2) As a flavor/sweetening agent to enhance the fruit.
3) As a barrier to help keep the fruit from desiccating.
4) To make the fruit shiny and attractive.

With those reasons in mind, there are multiple different ways to get the fruit glazed.

The first is to just spoon the mixture over the fruit, trying to cover all the surface and letting it run down into the cracks.

Photo: I used the Simply Delish brand of flavored gelatin in this batch, and as you can see in the photo, it produces a very thick glaze very quickly. I found that I like to start glazing when the mixture is more fluid than this.

Step 20: Fruit Glaze: Application Method 2

The second method is to apply the glaze with a silicone brush. I think this was my favorite. I was able to start when the liquid was much warmer and fluid, which was easier to work with. I quickly coated all the berries with a thin glaze, then drizzled the glaze into all the cracks and crevices, thereby binding the fruit to each other and the rest of the pie when it set.

Step 21: Fruit Glaze: Application Method 3

A third method is to mix the glaze and berries in a bowl and then pour them into the pie crust. This works well for small and firmer fruit, like blueberries. I wouldn’t try it with something delicate like raspberries though.

In the photos, I used this method on the bulk of the blueberries, but used the silicone brush on the rest.

Step 22: Fruit Glaze: Chill

Chill pie until glaze is set.

Step 23: Enjoy!

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