Liam’s Blackberry Pie

My little brother Liam is in a play!  As his proud older sister, I decided to celebrate the occasion by surprising him with a blackberry pie\(^o^)/

I texted him to ask him for his favorite dessert (under the clever pre-text of compiling a to-bake-for-loved-ones list). As it turns out, it’s “cold blackberry pie”. Interesting choice for such a complex, thoughtful boy.

I’d never made a blackberry pie before. And it was even more special because I got to make it for someone I LOVE. No better reason to bake than that!!

I looked at a bunch of different recipes and in particular was looking for a butter-based crust. (Shortening bothers me. Maybe it’s the color and the fact that it’s the same color as lard.)

The recipe I decided on is from The Pie Lady. She’s a pastry chef— she is also The Pie Lady— so I figured she must know a thing or two about pie-making. Her instructions are pretty basic (for a novice like me), so I ended up relying on Dorie Greenspan’s Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie recipe, which I found here, for more detail.

One concern I had from the start was whether to blind-bake the crust or not. Some recipes said to do this, others did not. Neither Dorie nor The Pie Lady did, but I decided to do it anyhow. (Glad I did it, too, since I wasn’t able to give Liam the pie until a day and a half after baking.)

OK, so some baking issues to report. I wasn’t sure how long to blind-bake, but I ended up baking at 400 F (205 C) for 15 minutes. This worked out well for me. Also, regarding actual pie-bake time, I followed the duration specified, but close to when I was supposed to take the pie out, my crust still looked under-baked—nowhere close to being flaky or golden. So I upped the temperature to 400 F (205 C) and baked the pie for an addition 10 minutes (a good decision).

So I had to wait a whole day and a half to actually try the pie. OMG—delicious! Mildly sweet, refreshingly tart, flaky crust (perhaps a little butter-heavy. I’ll probably reduce the butter amount to 1 1/2 sticks next time), and lovely, lovely filling consistency – smooth and not gooey at all.

AND best of all—Liam really liked it!!!

Liam’s Blackberry Pie (adapted from this recipe courtesy of The Pie Lady and this Dorie Greenspan recipe courtesy of South in Your Mouth)

Makes one 9-inch pie

INGREDIENTS

Crust

2 cups pastry or all purpose flour

8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 tsp sea salt (0r 3/4 tsp kosher)

5-7 tbsp ice water

Filling:

2 1/2 lbs. (a little over a kilo) blackberries (I used frozen.)

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup sugar (add a couple tbsp more if your berries are really tart)

2 1/4 oz (about 7 tbsp) cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes (Not sure if this is really necessary.)

1 large egg, beaten with 1 tsp water, for egg wash

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Crust: Cut the butter into small cubes and place on a dinner plate. Put the plate in the freezer while you gather the remaining ingredients.
  2. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food process; pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is pea-sized. (This can be also be done in a large bowl with a pastry cutter or two forks.)
  3. Add 5 tbsp of the ice water and pulse just to combine (the mixture should still be crumbly). Grab a handful of the crumbs and squeeze it together with your fist. If the mixture holds together, it’s done. If not, add more water, one tsp at a time.
  4. Dump the crumbly dough out onto a work surface. Divide it into 2 piles (1 for the top crust and 1 for the bottom). Press each pile together so you have 2 discs of dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F (205 C). Then, roll out one of the dough discs and place into the pie mold. Blind-bake for about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
  6. Prepare the filling: Toss the berries with lemon juice. Then, gently, gently fold the dry ingredients into the berries.
  7. Fill your pie shell and dot with butter. Apply the top crust and fold the edges under.
  8. Crimp the edge.
  9. Using a small, sharp knife, cut 4 slits in the top crust and cut a circle of the center. Then lift the shell onto the baking sheet. (If you have time, refrigerate for 30 minutes.)
  10. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F (190 C)). Brush the top crust with egg wash, then sprinkle the crust with a little sugar.
  11. Bake the pie (on a baking sheet—it will probably bubble over a bit) for 30 minutes at 375 (190 C). Then, reduce the heat to 325 F (162 C) and bake for an additional 25 minutes. (I had to bake for an additional 10 at 400 F. Not sure what the issue was.)
  12. Transfer the pie to a rack and allow to cool and settle for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with vanilla ice cream! (^_^)
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