Monday, September 12, 2011

Triple Berry Pie

Hello everyone! I hope you're not getting tired of all these posts right in a row! This weekend, I was craving pie. So I made some! People are often afraid to make their own pies. They seem hard. Intimidating. But they really aren't, so if you're in the mood for pie, grab a few simple tools and get baking! I am convinced that anyone can make a really good pie. It may not be the prettiest thing, but it will be tasty if you follow a few simple rules of thumb. I'll share those with you below!

For my pie, I hesitated even sharing it with you because it did not turn out like I wanted it to. I doesn't look as pretty as I like it. And I underestimated the juiciness of the berries, so the inside is more like berry soup than a firm, easy-to-slice pie. But the taste is still fantastic! And it is possibly the best pie crust that I've ever made. So, here it is! Proof that your pie doesn't need to be pretty to please your family and friends. And, if it doesn't turn out perfect, it's not a big deal! Just learn from it and try again. And, in the meantime, enjoy your delicious pie!

Here you can see the juices dripping from my not-sealed-well-enough crust. Yes, you got it. It's not supposed to do that.

Do you see how my crust is droopy there at the edge? Well, when I pinched the top and bottom crusts together and folded it under, I just didn't seal it well enough. I also had a bit too much dough there and instead of turning inward, when it hit the heat, it drooped down over the outer edge and started to come apart a little, making a space for the juices to leak through. I am so glad that I thought to put a baking sheet under my pie for this one! Or I would have had a killer mess in my oven!

See this slice? Doesn't it look tasty? And that is homemade vanilla bean ice cream next to it! Yum!

You can also see how the filling is falling out. Some of that will happen with any berry pie, but it should hold together a little better than mine did. The juices from the berries were fantastic on the ice cream, though!

So, here is my recipe and some tips at making it better than mine! Last week, I found a really good pie tutorial on The Pioneer Woman's website. You can find that tutorial here. Many of my tips come from this, so check it out!

Triple Berry Pie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Rounded tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 cup ice water

2 cups fresh raspberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2-3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flour (you could also use cornstarch or tapioca flour)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Juice from half a lemon
egg wash for the top (one egg beaten with a bit of water)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces and keep it cold. Add to the flour mixture and cut in using a pastry blender, fork, or two knives. This can also be done in a food processor, but I do it the old-fashioned way by hand instead, mostly because I don't yet have a large enough food processor. Cut in the butter or pulse the food processor until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add the ice water (not any actual ice cubes!) a little at a time, or drizzle it into the food processor, until the dough is moist but not quite all sticking together. Forget what you've always been told about the dough coming together in a ball. If you've reached that point, your dough is too moist! It should look a bit like wet sand and should stick together well if you grab some and squeeze it in your hand. Do all of this relatively slowly so you don't overmix your dough. That will activate the gluten too much and make your pie crust tough.

Once the dough has started coming together, divide it half. Place one half in the refrigerator (just keep it in the bowl for now) and place the other half on a large piece of lightly-floured parchment paper. Very lightly flour the top of the dough, then cover with another large sheet of parchment paper and roll it out to about 1/4-inch thick. Now this is the best trick that I found in the blog entry above. This prevents the dough from sticking and also keeps you from accidentally incorporating too much extra flour into your dough as you try to get it to not stick to your countertop. I've done that before! You know when you are rolling it out and you are afraid it will stick, so you keep adding more flour to the counter. And to the top along with your rolling pin. All of that extra flour throws off the balance of fat and flour in the dough and will make your crust tougher than it should be. This pie was the first I tried this technique and it worked like a charm! Like I said, the best crust I have made!

Once you have the first half rolled out, gently pull off the top piece of parchment paper. You will have to go slowly for this because it may act like it wants to stick a little bit. Use the bottom sheet of parchment to lift the circle of dough and turn it onto your pie dish. Gently peel off the other sheet of parchment and press the dough into the corners of your pie dish, being very careful to not trap air underneath the dough and to not tear the dough. I use my knuckles and never my fingertips. The dough should overhang the top edge just a little. Now place this into the refrigerator and pull out the other half of the dough. Roll the second half out like the first and, leaving it between the pieces of parchment, put it flat into the refrigerator.

Now it's time to mix the filling. You really can use any fruit for this and it would be excellent. The above is just a basic guideline and what I used to make this particular pie. A standard pie dish will hold about 6 cups of fruit/filling, so use that as your guide and use whatever yummy fruits are in season or that you have on hand. Just mix the fruit together with the sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Be gentle so you don't crush the fruit, especially when working with berries. The sugar amount that you use depends on how sweet the fruit is that you are using and how sweet you want the final result to be. I used about 1/4 cup for my pie because I wanted it to be a little tart. Just taste your berries and go from there. This is not an exact science, so play around with it! Same goes with the cinnamon. You can add whatever spices you like to the filling. Just pick some that compliment your fruit. Cinnamon is almost always a good choice. Nutmeg, used sparingly, is a good choice too. I like a little more cinnamon and some nutmeg in my apple pie. Finally, the flour is what will thicken the filling. Remember how loose mine was? Well, I didn't add enough flour. I used only 2 rounded tablespoons and that was clearly not enough for all of these berries. For other less juicy fruits, you can probably use just the two tablespoons and you will be fine. For these berries, I think I should have doubled the amount, so I put 1/4 cup in the recipe here. Again, this part is a little trial and error, so play around with it and know that if you don't get it just right, it will still taste delicious!

Once you have the filling mixed, pour it into your pie dish, filling the bottom portion of the dough. Dot the top of the filling with the butter. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top to brighten the flavors of the berries. You won't really taste lemon in the final product, but it does bring out the flavor of the berries really well. You could also use a teaspoon of lemon zest.

Take out your second rolled-out pie dough disc and peel away one of the parchment papers. Using the other paper, carefully place your dough over the pie and filling, trying your best to line up the outer edges. Carefully and slowly remove the other parchment paper. Cut the edges (if necessary) so that they overhand the edge of the pie dish about an inch. Gently pinch the upper and lower crusts together, then fold the upper under the lower so that it lines up with the inner edge of the top of the pie dish. Pinch together once more. You can do a decorative pattern using your knuckles and fingertips (be careful not to tear the dough!) or just seal it with the tines of a fork. Cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape and brush the entire top with the egg wash to make a nice golden brown top to your pie. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes (some recommend thirty, but I'm always too impatient for that!) in order to make sure the butter and crust are good and cold before going into the oven. This will make your crust even more tender and delicious!

Place your pie on the middle rack of your oven and bake at 425 for around 30 minutes, or until the top is nearly golden brown. Cover the top of the pie with aluminum foil (lightly!) and turn down the oven to 375. Continue baking until the juices are bubbling, around 30 more minutes. But check it often - it could take as little at 20 minutes or as much as 40 depending on your filling. The foil will keep your top crust from browning too much and from burning. I also usually put a flat baking sheet on the rack below my pie to catch any juices that might spill out. Because I hate cleaning ovens!

When your pie is bubbling and golden brown, remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack. Resist the urge to cut into it right away because no matter how much thickener you used, it won't be quite set right out of the oven and you want to give those juices a chance to settle down just a bit. So, wait around 10 minutes or so if you can. Serve in big slices with ice cream! Enjoy!


  1. My kinda of pie, it looks yummy and looks normal & edible to me, not too perfect to gobble up! : )