Monday, April 13, 2015

Vegan cherry crunch pie

vegan cherry crunch pie

Today I have for you another wildly exciting cookbook review! This time, of The Norske Nook Book of Pies and Other Recipes by Jerry Bechard and Cindee Borton-Parker.

It’s been quite exciting for me, personally, since I am not the pie type (sorry, but cake is where it’s at). Just look at all these fucking pie recipes. LOOK AT THEM. Not kidding, there are a lot of fucking pie recipes in here. You’ve got a whole bunch of chapters, each with loads of recipes for certain components or complete pies—crusts, toppings and puddings, Dutch- and praline-topped pies (seriously though, praline on pie? Count me in), double-crust pies, candy pies, berry pies (okay there is only one recipe in that chapter but I’ll give it a pass for versatility), cream cheese pies, sour cream pies, meringue pies, single-crust pies, stirred pudding pies, frozen pies, sugar-free pies, cheesecakes (wait that’s not a pie oh whatever), tortes, muffins, cookies, and Scandinavian specialties.

Phew. I’m exhausted just thinking about all that pie. And other stuff, since the last five chapters aren’t exactly “pie”.

The layout reminds me somewhat of the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook—you’ve got a lot of components, like Oreo crust, or Dutch crumb topping (which you will see in a minute), and then each full pie recipe that calls for said component refers back to its recipe page. Pretty nice layout, I think, but a little confusing if you aren’t used to it.

Preceding the actual recipes is a nice little introduction regarding the Norske Nook bakery, a small-town pie producer which has garnered all kinds of praise and awards for its sweet, Scandinavian-inspired concoctions. It’s kind of cute, you know? To hear about how these recipes came about and all the hauling-of-ass that occurs behind the scenes of this friendly, homey little bakery.

The recipes themselves are pretty cool, overall. The pictures are mouthwatering, and while there isn’t a photo for every single recipe, my god the ones that are there make you want to give up cake for life and convert to the Church of Pie. Wait. Fuck that. Carrying on. There’s also a good amount of variety in here, from rich pies like chocolate mousse and mint chocolate chip to classic fruit pies like Dutch apple.

However, I was a little disappointed by the use of cheap ingredients like flavored gelatins, Cool Whip, pudding packages, a shit ton of cream cheese...things like that. Most of the recipes in here are not vegan-friendly, even if they can be a good source of inspiration. Like the mile-high meringue. Actually, forget any thoughts of vegan-friendliness—because holy Christ on a cracker, their meringue is literally a mile high. As in, a dozen egg whites high. That’s literally a mile high, right?

Basically, my take on this book is that it gives you in a straightforward format the secrets behind their award-winning pies, acknowledging fully and without apology that they do indeed use pudding packages in their bestsellers and flavored gelatin in their seasonal favorites. That’s what wins the crowds over, I guess. Like the Snickers pie, which is basically chopped Snickers folded into a congealed mixture of Cool Whip and cream cheese. Not saying it’s bad, just not exactly as “from-scratch” as I would prefer, behind the pretentious foodie that I am.

Anyway. I know I’m making you hungry, so let’s get on with this pie. 

It's a little, erm, crispy.

As I said, a lot of the recipes in the book used flavored gelatin, and this one was no exception. In its stead, I used a bit of agar agar—I know it sounds weird, but it’s a decent substitution and as far as I can tell no flavor in this pie is lacking. The tapioca is also a marvelous thickener—although you must forgive me for using a teensy bit of regular ol’ tapioca, which is not at all akin to minute tapioca and as you can see doesn’t cook all the way through.

No matter, because the familia and I thoroughly enjoyed this little confection here. The amount of crumb topping might seem excessive, but no worries—it sets right up in the oven. Oh, and I might mention that the recipe originally calls for 2 hours of baking, which I found to be a bit excessive. Only 1 hour and 45 minutes is needed. 

Just trust me on that one.

All in all? A good recipe from a pretty good-looking book. I’ll give this one my stamp of approval.

Here’s the recipe.


Vegan cherry crunch pie


Pie crust

136 grams • all-purpose flour • 1 cup

104 grams • non-hydrogenated shortening • ½ cup

3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon

60 grams • cold water • ¼ cup

Dutch crumb topping

136 grams • all-purpose flour • 1 cup

50 grams • granulated sugar • ¼ cup

110 grams • light brown sugar • ½ cup

60 grams • quick-cooking oats • ¾ cup

4 grams • cinnamon • 1 ½ teaspoons

3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon

84 grams • coconut oil, softened • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons

Cherry filling

908 grams • cherries, pitted • 2 pounds

10 grams • agar agar flakes • 2 tablespoons

200 grams • granulated sugar • 1 cup

16 grams • cornstarch • 2 tablespoons

28 grams • minute tapioca • 3 tablespoons

4 grams • almond extract • 1 teaspoon


To make crust, start by placing flour, shortening, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Add cold water and mix until smooth, but do not over-mix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Roll out dough on a well-floured surface and place in a greased 9-inch pie pan. Feel free to crimp the edges all fancy-like, as I did (using a fork, like the pleb I am). Keep chilled while you prepare the rest of the pie.

To make crumb topping, start by whisking together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. With your fingers, crumble in coconut oil until the mixture has the texture of wet sand. Set aside until needed.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, whisk together agar agar, sugar, cornstarch, and tapioca. Add half of the cherries to the prepared pie crust, sprinkle half of the dry mixture on top, place remaining cherries on top of that, and sprinkle on remaining dry mixture. Sprinkle almond extract over the pie. Cover the pie with Dutch crumb topping.

Bake pie for 1 hour 35 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes, until the crumb is well-browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clear and not sugary. Let cool completely before eating.


Look at it, waiting for you to dive in with your fork.

While you’re here, check out a couple of the other pie recipes I’ve posted here.

Apple peanut butter cheesecake tart with sautéed apples. Ah, apples and peanut butter—ever the nostalgic combination.

Butterscotch meringue tart with chocolate chip cookie crust. This one’s got a kilometer-high meringue.

No-bake strawberry pudding tart. Easy to throw together, easy to eat.


  1. i can't wait until cherries are in season for me! this looks goooood :)

    1. I used frozen cherries, those work well too!

  2. Holy christ on a cracker would certainly approve of this. Infact I am sure that mini christ would jump down form the cracker and straight into this pie, where he would live happily ever after. Them crumbs! <3 Yum :D x

    1. "Christ on a cracker" has to be one of my favorite sayings! Always gets a laugh :)

  3. STOP EVERYTHING. And give me pie. How did you know that I am a sucker for a crumble topping? How did you know that berry pies are the exception to my general pie ambivalence? I'm working on that latter thing but honestly, this pie looks spectacular, even though I am typically right there with you in Camp Cake.

    1. I totally agree, crumbly-topped pies are the best :) I can't wait to make more fruit pies this spring!

  4. I'm a cherry girl all the way, this sounds amazing !

    1. Cherries are a favorite of mine too! Love using them in desserts :)

  5. I am always looking for new pie recipes! This looks so good!

  6. Mmm I've been having a major pie craving recently, and this looks delicious!! Love that crunchy topping.

    1. Yep, the crunchy part is probably the best part :D

  7. Cakes are my favorite also, but I will always have a soft spot for pie. Especially cherry pie. Love this!