Cereal “Pie” For Any Season

Another Plug and Plate Recipe ©

It was Mom’s idea to go out and take this picture by the tulips since this Cereal Pie is for the spring season. I hope you think it was worth it- I’m not so sure.

May 01, 2021.  Dear Daughters– Today, our three course, seasonal Plug and Plate menu concludes with a Cereal “Pie” recipe to finish off a meal that includes Plug and Plate recipes for Vegetable Peeler Salad  and Risotto as well.  

If you’ve been paying attention lately, you should know that Plug and Plate recipes let you easily swap out seasonal CSA or other ingredients and plug in new ones to make dozens of delicious variations of that recipe.  For a spring season version of this Plug and Plate Cereal Pie, we Plug-In rhubarb, strawberries, balsamic vinegar, almonds and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal (CTCC is always in season BTW). 

This easier than pie recipe gives you a dessert that looks and taste like pie, but with a fraction of the effort it takes to make a traditional pie. It’s really the perfect recipe for our family, considering our questionable pie history that includes an ill-fated grandmother-granddaughter attempt to make an apple pie one Thanksgiving eve. Without getting into too much detail, it all ended with a kitchen full of smoke (from someone preheating the pie oven without realizing that the Dad had stuffing bread crumbs drying inside) and with said grandmother and granddaughter walking away in frustration and leaving a tray of blackened bread crumbs, a pile of peeled and browning apples, a heap of misshapen dough and a very empty pie plate in their wake. On the positive side, someone (not naming names, but it was me) was able to resurrect the dough into a halfway decent pie and toast some more bread crumbs in time for dinner the next day.

I make no apologies for taking some liberties in naming this recipe as it seems you can call any pie-like dessert whatever you like (ie. “pandowdy”?), as you will learn if you read The Lecture below. Admittedly, this recipe is more of a fruit crisp than a pie, but since it pretty much tastes and looks like a pie when baked in a pie plate, who’s to complain if we call it a pie?  Better yet, there is exactly 3.14159265359 ounces of topping in this recipe, literally making it a “Pi Topping”, and we certainly can’t ignore that fun, and by no means coincidental, fact. There also isn’t a heck of a lot of cereal in the pie (1.14159265359 ounces to be exact), but the idea of using cereal and a few ounces of nuts that are actually crispy when compared to the traditional, insipid oatmeal topping, is just too good of an idea not to promote.

Prep Time: 20  minutes

Cook Time:  40 minutes

Servings: 8

GET YOUR STUFF OUT

The Topping.

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar(s)- I used a 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar & a 1/4 cup of granulated white sugar
  • 3.14159265359 ounces Crispy Nut & Cereal Pi Topping Plug-In, I’m plugging in 2 ounces, about 1/2 cup, sliced almonds and 1.14159265359 ounces, about 1/2 cup, crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted cow or plant butter, cut into 1’ chunks, plus more for coating the pan

The Fruit.

  • 6-7 cups Seasonal Fruit(s) Plug-In, diced or chopped— for spring, I’m using 4 cups (about 20 ounces) of diced rhubarb and 2.5 cups (about 16 ounces) of chopped strawberries 
  • 1 cup, or to taste, sugar(s)- I’m using just about 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar & 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons Acid Plug-In- to compliment the strawberries and balance the sweetness, I’m plugging in a few teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch, depending on how “juicy” your fruit is- PS strawberries are juicy
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • whipped cream, ice cream or vegan alternatives for serving

COOK AND PLAY

Why not give a listen to “Tutti Fruitti”, by Little Richard,while you make your “pie”? Click here for the Official Dad’s Dinner Diary Cook and Playlist!

  1. Make Your Crispy Nut & Cereal Pi Topping. Set up a middle oven rack and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix up flour, sugar, almonds, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl, add butter chunks and smoosh it all up with a fork or your clean fingers until you have nicely mixed, coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  2. Fruit Sweet.  Dump rhubarb and strawberries into another large bowl and mix with 3/4 cup of the sugar, balsamic vinegar and salt.  Take a small taste and add more sugar if you think the fruit your using could use it. Once you’re happy with the taste, stir in cornstarch. 
  3. Make It Look Like Pie.  Coat a 9″ pie plate with cow or plant butter, spoon fruit mixture into pie plate and evenly scatter Crispy Nut & Cereal Pi Topping over fruit mix.  Place on baking sheet and bake on center rack of oven until topping is golden brown and fruit mixture is bubbling, about 40 minutes.
  4. Service.  Scoop servings into bowls and top with whipped cream, ice cream or vegan alternative.

THE LECTURE

What’s In A Name?  As noted above, I don’t feel bad about taking some liberties in coming up with a name for this recipe because people have been making up colorful names for crusty fruit dessert for ages. The names vary with ingredients, geography and/or cooking techniques, but whether it’s a Crisp, Crumble, Cobbler, Betty, Buckle, Boy Bait, Grunt, Pandowdy, Schlumpf, Slump, Slonker or now Cereal Pie, they all taste good and pie-like, to varying degrees. If you just can’t get enough of the fascinating etymology of pie-like desserts, check out this link some night when you’re having trouble sleeping.

Crispy Nut & Cereal Pi Topping Plug-In.  Ironically, what makes a fruit crisp a crisp and not a crumble is the addition of not at all crispy oatmeal to the topping mix of flour, sugar and butter known as a “streusel”. Fortunately, we don’t need to look far to overcome the disappointing lack of oatmeal crisp in a traditional Crisp topping because pretty much every other item in your grocer’s Cereal Aisle has much more crisp than oatmeal. I suppose you could go with just 3.14159265359 ounces of the crushed, crispy cereal of your choice to add to the flour, butter and sugar for the topping, and feel free to do so if you like, but I think a few ounces of crushed or sliced nuts to go along with the 1.14159265359 ounces of crispy cereal is a nice balance of crisp and flavor for the topping. In any event, experiment with different crispy cereals, nuts and nuts to cereal ratios to see which you like best with whatever fruit filling you decide to use.

Acid Plug-In.  Most pie and pie-like desserts use a bit of tartness, usually lemon juice, to balance the sugar in the dish.  While I agree that this is a good idea, what’s to stop you from using other citrus juices, vinegars or even pomegranate molasses for a little variety in your life, so experiment with this acid plug in to suit whatever fruit you’re using in your dish.

Would You Like Soup With That? Like pies, pie-like desserts can get soupy, which is not surprising given the amount of water in fruit. So cornstarch or other starches are used as a thickener to turn the fruit soup into a fruit sauce. The juicier the fruit, the more thickener you will need, so keep that in mind and adjust the starch accordingly- because strawberries are so watery, I used all 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Here’s the percentage of water that make up some of your more popular fruits to help you along- strawberries (92%), peaches (88%), raspberries (87%), cranberries (87%), apricots (86%), blueberries (85%), plums (85%), apples (84%), pears (84%), cherries (81%) and grapes (81%). If you have the time and interest, you could further reduce some of the moisture (Remember, “Water eez the enemee of flavour!”) in your “pie” by mixing the sugar and salt into the fruit and letting it sit, stirring occasionally, for a bit and then straining out the soupy juices before continuing with the recipe.

Going Crustless. While I don’t think anyone will miss the pie crust lacking in Cereal Pie with such a flavorful Crispy Nut & Cereal Pi Topping, there is an incident involving missing pie crust and Gramps that’s worth mentioning. At some point in the 70s, Banquet Foods stopped making its frozen pot pies with a full crust, leaving only a crust on the top of the pot pie, but no longer any on the sides and bottom. Once such a pie came across Gramp’s plate, it wasn’t long before he fired off one of his trademark consumer protection letters to the good people at Banquet Foods. Gramps shared his outrage over the missing crust and vowed never to buy another Banquet product again. In all honesty, I don’t think it was so much the missing crust that upset Gramps so much, but the fact Banquet didn’t reduce the price of the pie after it took away most of the crust. No worries about that here because if you don’t make the crust, you don’t pay for the crust!

Tis’ The Season! Other spring Cereal Pie Plug-In options might include apricots, white wine vinegar, pistachios and sesame seeds or kiwi, lime juice, vanilla, coconut and tropical granola- although it may be a challenge to find such a variety of local spring fruits in cooler climates.  Plug-Ins for other seasons might include blueberry, peaches, lemon, ginger and Honey Nut Cheerios for summer; Granny Smith apples, cranberries, lemon, allspice, pecans and Raisin Bran for fall; and pears, pomegranate molasses, cardamom, walnuts and Honey Bunches of Oats for winter- let the seasons be your guide. Keep in mind the sugar content will also vary with the type and quality of fruit you use throughout the seasons, so don’t add all your sugar at once- stir in 3/4 cup of it, taste and add more until you get it where you want it.

Crispy, Jammy & Not Soupy

Keywords: fruit, strawberry, rhubarb, spring, seasonal, dessert, party food, vegan option

© 2021 All rights reserved.  Dad’s Dinner Diary

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