A Climber's Guide to Pie

Improve endurance with this sweet, portable snack
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Julie Ellison
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Improve endurance with this sweet, portable snack

This story originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of our print edition.

Pie Nutrition Recipe Rock Climbing

Every climber is quite familiar with getting served a slice of humble pie, but that frustrating dessert won’t give you the steady stream of energy and hydration boost that this Banana Walnut Two-Bite Pie will. Carbohydrates in the bananas, crust, and brown sugar provide energy, while potassium helps your body absorb the water you drink. That potassium also prevents cramping, restores muscles, and maintains blood-sugar levels. With a built-in pie crust container, these treats offer a convenient and fairly durable way to get this superfood to the crag. Plus, the walnuts offer the healthy type of fat, which will give you long-lasting energy. Following this basic recipe, you can stuff it with whatever you want for an easy, tasty snack. If you’re not bananas about, uh, bananas, try apples and cinnamon, or peaches and brown sugar.

Ingredients

  • Premade pie crust
  • 2 large sliced bananas
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or your favorite baking spice   

Directions

  1. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Grease a muffin pan thoroughly.
  3. Press dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, so it fills each muffin cup halfway.
  4. Put about two tablespoons of filling into each pie.
  5. Use the remaining dough to make small, flat discs. Place those over each pie, then press the sides of the top down, sealing the crust together.
  6. Bake according to the directions of your specific pie crust (10 to 20 minutes), subtracting a few minutes since each pouch will be small.
  7. Remove from the oven when the crust is a golden brown.
  8. Let the pies cool completely after baking so the filling firms up.

Nutrition Facts (per pie)
Energy: 165 cal • Fat: 3g • Carbs: 32g • Protein: 15g • Fiber: 2g • Sodium 24mg • Water 40%

Recipe republished with permission of VeloPress from Feed Zone Portables ($25). Try more recipes at feedzonecookbook.com.

Best Premade Crusts

Pillsbury Gluten Free Pie Pastry Dough

Gluten-Free
Pillsbury Gluten Free Pie And Pastry Dough
Gluten-free doesn’t have to mean taste-free, and this Pillsbury version is evidence of that. When given a pie with a regular crust and then the gluten-free version, one tester actually preferred this one. It was dry compared to regular dough, so it requires extra kneading and special care when forming the mini-pies.

Jiffy Pie Crust Mix

Budget Option
Jiffy Pie Crust Mix
This boxed mix requires a few more steps than refrigerated crusts, but adding water, stirring, and kneading is a small price to pay when you can get two nine-inch pies worth of crust for about $1. “Flaky, buttery, and yummy—just like Mom’s pies growing up.”

Wholly Wholesome Organic Whole Wheat Pie Crust

Healthiest
Wholly Wholesome Organic Whole Wheat
Diehard bakers will probably scoff at the idea of a whole-wheat pie crust—until they take a bite of this. Even with the denser whole wheat, this crust has just the right flaky to moist consistency—and more fiber than a traditional pie crust makes it feel extra filling. 

Pie in the Sky

One dirtbag’s love affair with the dessert pastry

James Lucas Pie Rock Climber

Photo: Andrew Burr

Despite not having a permanent address since 2001, James Lucas, professional dirtbag  and pie lover, has baked these tasty pastries all over the country, even entering pie-baking contests against veteran-baker mothers and grandmothers.

How did your love affair with pie start?
In spring 2005, I wanted to impress a girl, and an injury kept me from ripping off my shirt and dynoing on slabs, so I needed something beyond climbing. I pictured myself on the cover of Martha Stewart Living, wearing just an apron and holding a pie. The girl swooned when I arrived at her house with a cherry pie. Then in summer 2011, I injured myself in Rifle, Colorado, and drowned my sorrows in butter lattices and crisp, sugar-coated Granny Smith apples. The Carbondale Mountain Fair offered a chance to test my pie skills while taking a break from punting off my sport project, so I entered.

What’s your win-loss record for pie-baking contests?
I’m 0-2. Judy Harvey, a local favorite, beat my apple pie with a boysenberry/huckleberry pie in 2011. In 2013, a newcomer demolished my Kentucky Derby Pie, a chocolate bourbon pecan, with her lemon meringue.

The old ladies of the pie contests are a secretive, competitive lot. They employ their husbands to get them fruit and the best butter, help them taste, and wash dishes. Couple this with a few decades of practice, and they are formidable opponents.

Perhaps a stretch, but do pie-baking contests have any similarities to climbing?
You’re judged by your performance, and in climbing, people judge you a little less. The similarities include being hyper-focused on the smallest things: rolling out an even thickness of crust, weaving the perfect lattice, etc. These all require the same precision as back-stepping on a small nub or rolling your fingers on a razor-edge crimp.

Is pie the ultimate climbing fuel?
With a lot of fat and sugar, I would guess that traditional pies do little for climbers nutritionally, but they do offer a large amount of emotional support. A good pie will transport you to another place or time with good memories. To quote Colorado climber Mike Pennings: “You can’t put a price on morale.” Pies are amazing for keeping the spirits up.