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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Date Crumb Pie

Date Crumb Pie
Years ago, when I decided that I wanted to cook and in, all the time...the first thing I wanted to master was pie making.  I don't think it was a conscious decision, it just sort of became "my thing".  I started by baking pies to bring to Thanksgiving dinner.  I would always make two different kinds.   Apple being my favorite.  Apple with a crumb topping and long, thin slices of Parmesan to eat with it.

Sometimes I would make Pumpkin.  Sometimes I would make Rum-Runner Pecan Pie.  Other times a variation on one of those three - perhaps Upside Down Apple (apple inside, pecan "outside") or Pumpkin-Pecan.  Other times, Chocolate Pecan or Bourbon Sweet Potato.

In summertime, it was Concord Grape, Blueberry, and my most favorite, Cherry Pie.  Spring made me think Lemon Meringue, Strawberry-Rhubarb, or Coconut.  Basically, I'm a pie-anytime kinda girl.  A slice of pie (a la mode, perhaps) and a cup of good coffee is pure comfort to me.
Date Crumb Pie
I love giving pies to others, as well.  I love seeing the look on somebody's face when I hand them a homemade pie.   Something you spend so much time lovingly chopping, rolling, and forming definitely says "I Care".  This Date Pie was made for somebody very special this week.

When the world is gray and bleak
Baby don't you cry.
I will give you every bit of love that is in my heart
I will bake it up… into a simple little pie.
Baby don't you cry, gonna make a pie
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle.
                                                                                   -Adrienne Shelley

Date Crumb Bars (or Date Crumb Pie)
Thick oat streusel layers surrounding a rich date center.
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Date Crumb Pie
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert vegetarian dates nuts Christmas Thanksgiving pie bars American

Ingredients (16 bars or 8-10 slices)
  • 12 oz. pitted dates, coarsely chopped (to equal 2 c. packed)
  • 1½ c. water
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ c. whole wheat flour
  • ¾ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • big pinch sea salt
  • 1½ c. coarsely chopped walnuts
  • ½ c. finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) salted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature + extra for pan
Combine chopped dates and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a slow steady simmer, stirring from time to time, until the dates are very tender and cooked into a thick jam, ~15 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9-inch square pan (or a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate) with foil, pressing it in to the sides or edges to conform to the pan, and leaving a bit of an overhang. Butter the foil lightly all over. Set aside.

Stir together the oats, both flours, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Toss in the walnuts and ginger. Add the butter and use your fingertips to work the butter through the mixture until it is very well combined and crumbly.

Press and pack half of the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan (if using a pie dish, bring it up the sides a bit as well). Spread the date filling on top of the bottom crust. Sprinkle the filling evenly with the rest of the crumb mixture. Gently give the topping a little press so that it adheres to the filling.

Slide into preheated oven and bake for ~50 minutes - 1 hour (if using pie pan, check after 40 minutes or so), until edges are beginning to get golden and filling feels "set" when you press it it a little with your finger in the center.

Cool on a wire rack. Gently lift the bars or pie from the pan, using the foil overhang, and cut into bars or wedges. Fantastic with cold milk or hot coffee. Even better with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

slightly adapted from Baking for Friends by Kathleen King
Date Crumb Pie

Date Crumb Pie

Date Crumb Pie