Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall Baking

Last week, my mother and I baked a pie from scratch. I'll use the word pie loosely. Falling somewhere between a cobbler and a crumble, the results were rustic and less than picture perfect. Having examined our missteps and stumbles, we headed back to the kitchen determined and driven. I refused to be defeated by pastry. After finding a simple recipe for blueberry pie, it was time to go shopping.

Three groceries stores later and still no blueberries in sight, we opted for a blackberry and raspberry pie instead. The second attempt was far more successful. We rallied. Our grocery shopping complete, it was time to tackle the pie crust. Not wanting to recreate the horrors of my first encounter with pate brisee, I first made sure that all of my ingredients were extremely cold. I began by measuring the flour and butter and placing it in the freezer. This will ensure that you achieve the perfect, flaky crust and not something in between. A food processor is another invaluable tool. It processes the dough quickly, thereby preventing over-handling. Ours went from the food processor to the refrigerator in about two minutes.

After an hour in the refrigerator, it was time to roll out the dough. The dough rolled out with relative ease and given my last attempt, I was pleased to have crust in the pie pan. It's not that I have low standards, I simply revel in little victories.

While the crust chilled, I began making the filling. I adapted the filling from the blueberry pie I had intended to make, adding lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. I also adjusted the amount of sugar, increasing it from 1/2 cup to 1 cup, since berry pies generally trend toward the tart side.

Before placing my pie in the oven, I quickly brushed it with egg wash for a golden, glossy finish and set the timer. As the ruby red juices bubbled out of the pie, my parents and I hovered around the oven, anxiously waiting to take it out. It wasn't more than five minutes before we began digging into the pie. We served each slice in big bowls, the filling spilling out onto the vanilla ice cream to create the most lovely shade of pink. It was a messy, delicious concoction and it could not have been anymore perfect.

Blackberry & Raspberry Pie

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Blueberry Pie


Makes one 9 inch pie

All purpose flour, for dusting

Pate Brisee

8 cups of fruit (5 ½ cups blackberries and 2 ½ cups raspberries)

1 cup of sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

½ teaspoon lemon zest

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon of milk


  1. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9-glass pie plate, pressing it into edges. Trim dough to a ½ inch overhang all around. Fold edge of dough over or under, and crimp as desired. Roll out remaining dough in the same manner; transfer dough (on parchment) to a baking sheet. Chill pie shell and dough until firm, about 30 minutes.
  2. Place fruit in a large bowl; with your hands, crush about ½ cup of the berries to get the juices flowing. Add sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to combine. Spoon mixture into chilled pie shell, mounding berries slightly in the center. Dot with butter. Remove dough from refrigerator and place over the filing. Tuck edge of top dough between edge of bottom dough and rim of pan. Using your fingers, gently press both layers of dough along the edge to seal, and crimp as desired.
  3. Using a paring knife, cut several vents in top of dough to allow steam to escape. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and milk. Brush surface with egg wash, being careful not to let it pool. Freeze or refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the lower third of the oven.
  4. Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking, rotating the pan halfway through, until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling and have thickened, 40-50 minutes more. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool.

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