Oh yeah. That’s right. It’s pie time.
I have a bone to pick with the fussy confectionary fads of today’s society. First, it was cupcakes. Then came cakepops, followed shortly by macarons, and now maybe it’s putting bacon in everything dessert-related. Don’t get me wrong, prissy pâtisseries are all fine and dandy, and I love a good hip café on occasion, but sometimes a girl just needs a good ole’ slice of pie.
There is a pie shortage in America, people. And I would know. I spent my college years searching for a place where I could get a simple slice of pie. A place where the coffee is decent, the people are friendly, and “maple bacon cupcakes” are unheard of. You know what I found? Diddly-squat. Yeah sure, I found some places with decent coffee and friendly people, and yes, some of those places even served pie… if you could call it that. When I say pie, I mean a handmade crust that crisp, flaky, and tender all at the same time. I mean a fruit filling that doesn’t need too much sugar and that isn’t half goo, because a good fruit pie is all about letting the fruit speak for itself.
But you know what? Who cares. We don’t need them, and we don’t need supermaket Sara Lee pies either. Why? Because WE CAN MAKE THEM OURSELVES! Once you get down the basics, pies are as easy as well, pie, and let me tell you, nothing can beat a homemade pie.
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, COLD, cut into cubes (keep in refrigerator/freezer until ready to use)
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
For the pie
5-7 cups (or 1 pie dish) blackberries (or any type of berry) fresh or frozen
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg (for wash)
sugar for sprinkling
For the crust: In a generously large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Get out cold cubed butter. Working quickly, use your fingertips work the butter into the flour mix. Don’t let the butter melt. Once the butter is sufficiently integrated, bits of butter will range in size from flakes to as big as peas.
Combine ice water and vinegar, and slowly begin to add it to the dough. The amount of liquid you will need to add depends on a lot of variables such as humidity, etc, so the exact amounts of liquid will vary. You have added enough liquid when the dough looks shaggy, but will hold its shape when formed into a ball. Divide dough into two equally sized discs, wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for ~1hr
For the filling: I’ve made many variations of this pie, and the way I measure out how much fruit to use is I simply fill a pie dish with my berry of choice, and when it brims at the top I know I have enough.
If frozen, defrost berries and pour out most of the liquid. Place berries in bowl and add in sugar and your thickeners (cornstarch and flour). If your berries are frozen, you’ll probably want to add an extra 1 Tbsp or so of cornstarch. Gently mix to combine.
Assembling the pie: Remove one disk from refrigerator. On a floured surface, roll out dough till it is a few inches larger than the pie pan on either side. Refrigerate while you roll out the 2nd dough disk in the same manner.
Transfer one of the rolled doughs to the pie pan, and gently have it conform to the shape of the pie pan. Trip the crust so it hangs over the pan by about an inch Dock the bottom of the dough with a fork, then add your pie filling.
Before placing your top crust, first cut slits in the approximate center of your dough in whatever artistic manner you want. These slits will let steam out while baking. Then transfer the pie crust over the filling, and with a pair of scissors trim the dough so it hangs about 1 inch over the pie pan. Press top and bottom crusts together around the edges, and then fold under. Using your fingers, crimp the crusts together. Brush top crust with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar.
Place on lower middle rack in oven preheated to 375F for 25 min. Make sure to put something under the pie to catch drippings, because they will happen. Boost oven temperature to 400F and bake for another 30 min. If the top looks like it needs browning, you can place the pie on a higher rack for the last 10 min of baking time. Let cool for 2 hours before cutting!