Spiced Strawberry Pie with Crumble Topping


There are certain movies that stay with you long after you’ve watched them, they aren’t necessarily the best, or your typical Oscar-worthy movies; sometimes it’s just because the themes in the movies are relatable.

I watched Higher Ground last year, a 2011 movie starring Vera Farmiga as a woman who suffers a crisis of faith in her tight-knit born-again Christian community.

Coming from an insanely religious culture, I connected with the heroine’s struggle with religion, faith, identity and doubt – I’ve been where she’s been, and basically came to the same realizations.
Every once in a while, something happens that makes me think back on this movie.

There’s also the song from which the movie gets its title, which brings back so many memories… there was a version sung in Twi that my dad played all the time, I can almost hear the singer’s raspy voice hauntingly sing of longing for a ‘higher ground’ – a far better place than she’s found; it made me dream then.

The reason why I’m bringing up the movie is because there’s a scene in it where the women gather for bible study, one of the ‘sisters’ is very excited that someone brought home-made carob-chip cookies to share.

Corrine, our heroine asks her friend; “Do you know what carob tastes like?”
“Chocolate?” her friend asks
“Disappointment” Corrine answers.

I thought about that scene when I started looking into making pie crust without the traditional animal fats (butter, lard) or vegetable shortening that contain trans fat.
I googled ‘vegan pie crust’ and coconut oil came up as an alternative. The challenge was to make a buttery and flaky crust that didn’t taste like disappointment, using coconut oil.

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I love coconut oil, I use it in everything – from soups to conditioning my hair, and I’ve used it for baking with great results. Coconut oil stays solid at certain temperatures (76 degrees F. melting point) and can be cut into flour in its solid state just like conventional shortening.

I chill mine in the fridge for a few minutes, cut it into pieces and whirl it with my flour and salt in the food processor for a few seconds, add apple cider vinegar and a few tablespoons of water.

The dough comes together much like any other pie dough, bakes flawlessly and tastes… buttery and flaky.

I made apple hand pies for work using the coconut oil dough, it got high praise, and no one could tell it had coconut oil in it.

This strawberry pie is what I do with the strawberries that are just coming in from California; I wish I knew how to resist them – they’re pretty tempting but not as tasty as BC strawberries in the summer.

There are so many delicious facets to this pie; the crust, perfect textured crumble topping, and the strawberry filling generously spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom for a rustic and flavourful taste – the warm spices and strawberries are perfect together; delightfully so, I love it especially during this time when we’re transitioning into warmer temperatures.

IMG_5197 Spiced Strawberry Pie


Spiced Strawberry Pie with Crumble Topping


  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) coconut oil, chilled, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 – 3 tablespoon chilled water


  1. Combine flour, coconut oil, salt, sugar, cinnamon, ginger nutmeg, and cardamom in a food processor
  2. Pulse until well incorporated
  3. Add apple cider vinegar, and mix
  4. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until dough forms
  5. Alternatively, you can mix ingredients by hand – once dough has a crumbly texture, add apple cider vinegar and water a spoonful at a time kneading until dough comes together
  6. Flatten dough into a round disc, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or as long as 24 hours, until you’re ready to use


  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup crushed pistachios
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold coconut oil


  1. Combine oats, flour, pistachios, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl
  2. Add and rub in coconut oil until mixture is crumbly


  • 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped (you can use frozen strawberries too)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a bowl, combine strawberries, sugar, arrowroot powder, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger powder and salt
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. On a flour-dusted surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into a thin large circle, large enough to cover a medium pie pan with a bit of an overhang
  4. Gently lift the dough and line it with the pie pan
  5. Pour filling into pie shell, spreading the mixture evenly
  6. Sprinkle the crumbly oat mixture (crumble topping) over the pie
  7. Flute the edges of the pie crust with a fork or your hand to make a pretty pattern
  8. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until crust and topping is golden brown



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  • Reply Bintu @ Recipes From A Pantry

    I have soooooo pinned this and about to share on facebook.. Looking forward to the pick your own strawberry season.

    10 April, 2013 at 2:44 pm
    • Reply Elsa

      Oooooh, I’m looking forward to U Pick season too, I tend to go crazy! isn’t it exciting? 🙂

      10 April, 2013 at 3:29 pm
  • Reply Elsa

    I have a ton of blueberries in my freezer too, I just made meyer lemon blueberry scones using coconut oil – it turned out fantastic, sadly couldn’t picture them because it was too dark and they went fast 🙂 but I’ll make them again. The pie would be amazing with blueberries 😉

    10 April, 2013 at 3:17 pm
  • Reply Elsa

    You should totally do it!
    Did you say brownie studded chocolate ice cream? Kill me now!

    10 April, 2013 at 3:27 pm
  • Reply Kitchen Butterfly

    I love the ‘phrase’…tastes like disappointment!

    I love the primer on pie crust of coconut oil.

    And most of all, I LOVEEEEEE this strawberry pie recipe – I’ve been desperate to make a baked strawberry pie!

    11 April, 2013 at 1:20 pm
  • Reply Rosie - Blueberry Kitchen

    Your pie looks so delicious and totally gorgeous!

    18 April, 2013 at 3:01 pm
    • Reply Elsa

      Thank you, thank you 🙂

      19 April, 2013 at 2:56 pm

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