Saturday, September 8, 2012

Berry Pie with a French Pastry Pie Crust

Pie. This is my husband's favorite dessert. Olallieberry Pie is his favorite pie.  He's been known to, ahem, devour an entire pie over the course of a few days.   The funny thing is, with the exception of pumpkin pie, I'm not a huge fan of pie crust.  I'd rather make "crisps" by filling ramekins with pie filling and topping it with an oatmeal,flour,  brown sugar, (and sometimes added nuts) and butter topping. Sublime.

Rolling out pie dough, surprisingly, can be therapeutic for me.  I finally mastered the art of making successful pie crusts-- learning the secret of working with cold ingredients and not overworking the dough.

I thank America's Test Kitchen for showing me how to keep pie crust dough from tearing and sticking, and how to easily drape it on a rolling pie and to unfurl it over a mound of pie filling. Easy Peasy, right?  Wrong.  At least, that's what happened with this pie crust recipe.

I'm always looking for new variations of pie/tart dough.  I chose this recipe, because it uses shortening (which pie experts swear is the ingredient to use for tender crusts).  A traditional American pie crusts uses lard or shortening, water and flour.  This variation adds one egg, sugar and white vinegar, and promises to be easy to work with and very tender to enjoy.

I have a pastry cutter, but my food processor makes pie crusting preparation a snap.  Once it's pulsed together, I press it into shape, divide it, place it in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least an hour.

I am addicted to listening to audio books, while I'm in the kitchen (or cleaning the house, or commuting to work).   I was engrossed into listening to a story, and began to work with this pie dough.  I'm not gonna lie, but this pie crust had plenty of challenges.  It's soft, despite that I had chilled it for a while. It began to crack... a lot.  I'd try to drape it over my rolling pin and it would disintegrate.

Son: "Mom, are you okay?"
Mom: "Why do you ask"? 
Son: "You sounded like you had G-Rated tourettes. You were kinda cussing up a storm."


I had to resort to rolling the dough on parchment paper, then lift the whole thing up (mutter a prayer of both forgiveness and hope) and flipped the whole thing into the pie plate.  Still I had to patch up the crust-- so, if anyone has encountered similar challenges, please share any tips with me!

I baked this pie for our Labor Day barbecue.  I live just minutes away from Driscolls Berries, so I can buy fresh berries way past summer. (Lucky me, I know. ) I decided to make a berry mix of fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries-- but, wait!

We have frozen olallieberries, that were grown in our own backyard.

With that said, you can bake berry pies year-round, because frozen berries work just as well as fresh-- you don't even need to thaw them before baking.

Have you ever baked a fruit pie, and the filling runs out after you cut into the first slice?  I've used cornstarch and tapioca, which does the job well.  My favorite ingredient is Instant ClearJel, that I order online with King Arthur flour.  I find that cornstarch kinda of "clouds" the look of the baked filling.

I no longer need to measure when I'm making fruit pie filling, and have gotten better at eye-balling how much to use.  With this pie I used one pint, each, of fresh berries-- with the exception of the frozen olallieberries.  I like to add the zest of one small lemon, and the juice.  Because olallieberries can be a bit tart, I whisked together 3/4 cup sugar, and five tablespoons of ClearJel-- adjust the sugar according to the sweetness of the berries.  (If I didn't have ClearJel, I would use about 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch or tapioca.)  Gently toss all the ingredients and set aside.

Once I won the pie crust battle, I piled in the prepared berries, and dotted the fruit with small pats of unsalted butter.

Place the top layer of pie crust, crimp and trim and then I like to brush on an egg wash and dust with sprinkling sugar-- for a crunchy texture.

 Place the pie on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown.

It's not easy to get my boys to refrain from cutting into the pie, while still warm.  However, the pie filling has to "set" or it will become a river of sugar, sweet deliciousness.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the moment of truth-- the pie filling has set. Yay!  Now, for the crust tasting...

TASTING NOTES:  Despite my frustrations with how fragile the pie dough was to work's definitely very tender and delicious. I used Butter-Flavor Crisco, because that's what I had on hand. The vinegar was not detected, in any way.  Here I am, a self-proclaimed, non-fan of pie crusts, and I ate every single bite.   As for the berry filling-- it tasted like summer, with a perfect balance of sweet and tart.  You cannot taste the lemon, but it adds that lovely brightness in the background.

This pie lasted for one day.  The next day, I returned for a second slice-- and the pie pan was in the sink. Empty.  Sigh.

Ah, but  Pumpkin Season is so close!  While I'm sad to say goodbye to the last of our garden tomatoes and basil, I'm looking forward to making soups, stews and home baked bread.  Oh, and I'm sure I'll be making a pumpkin pie before Thanksgiving.  But, first, I want to make Cathy's Glazed Apple Pie Bars-- they look perfect for Fall!

A printable recipe card is at the end of this post.

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Chatty Crone said...

This looks soooooooooooooo good.

Christine said...

Wonderful pie. The crust looks delicious! Years ago I found a recipe for an oil crust (since I hated cutting in butter/lard) and have never looked back. Light and flakey every time. Someday I will taste an olallieberry!

Sue/the view from great island said...

In my experience the fussiest pie crusts are always the best. These have to be some of the most luscious pie photos I've ever seen---I love the mix of berries. Good thing I have a farmer's market tomorrow, I know just what I'm buying!

Kathleen said...

This is a totally gorgeous pie!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

That first photo just says it all. Anyone would be thrilled to share a piece of this incredible pie.

Anonymous said...

It is recipes just such as this, and the magic of your words that describe your frustrations, joys, triumphs, and pure happiness in creating such mouthwatering delights which make me eagerly anticipate each and every email signaling another wonderful recipe and it's story! I can not wait to try this pie, and yes it's painfully frustrating crust in my own kitchen. It all looks fabulous Deb!!!

Danielle Imstuffed said...

I'm not a pie crust fan either..but once in a while I find one I like. Especially if it's homemade. Maybe it's just the store bought ones that I don't like. And yes...lucky you to be sooo close to all those berries! Your pie is beautiful! (giggling at the "cussing up a storm"...been there...DO that!

Debby Foodiewife said...

Dear "Anonymous"...thank you! So glad you are subscribing to my posts. I blog because I truly enjoy it, and I do appreciate the comments that people take the time to leave. I read each one, and it makes me smile.

Roz said...

This is one of the most beautiful pies, Debby! I commend you for baking a pie, I seem to only do this for holidays! Great tutorial too!

Joanne said...

Unless it's graham cracker or a TRULY exceptional pie crust, I'd rather have a crisp also. Which is why I tend to make pies more because I can control myself around them. This looks gorgeous!

From Valeries Kitchen said...

This is an absolutely gorgeous pie and such great, detailed directions! I make my crust with the food processor too! Sisters at heart :) I've got to Pin this one and share!

Ally said...

Damn you & your ollaliberries! ;)
So jealous!! Looks delicious!!

Karen said...

Pie crusts can be so frustrating, but from the looks of this one, you'd never know it wasn't behaving for you. This is a beautiful berry pie... bet it was delicious!

Kate said...

This looks heavenly! Your crust is so flaky.....I struggle with pie crusts....I appreciate your step by step solution to the tearing, falling apart when I tried to put it on the roller... guess this is why I make so few pies.

Susy said...

Oh yum, anything with berry for me please!

Inco said...

It looks so delicious!
Compliments.. wonderful photos.
I hope you'll have a great day.
See you soon.

Proud Italian Cook said...

You're killing me tonight Deb!
Stunning pie!