Blackberry pie. Double crust or single the sweet-tart of blackberries is an all time summer favorite flavor. I grew up in the Northwestern United States, Seattle to be specific, where in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s blackberries grew wild over every vacant lot, and untended sliver of land. They were yours for the picking. Dressed in old shorts and T-shirts and armed with an old saucepan to fill we would wander through the neighborhood looking for the plumpest clusters with the easiest access to pick. The reward was always some form of blackberry pie.
What pie crust to do you prefer? Flaky, cookie like, sweet, salty, buttery, I prefer a crust with just the right amount of crisp, not buttery or sweet but just enough salt and flakiness to enhance the natural high impact taste of blackberries. Any shape, round double crust, single crust, lattice crust or French crumb will be wonderful. But alas, for the most part the fantastic tartness of blackberries has gone the way of agricultural over-engineering and the tart has been bred out of the berries for a more homogenous, limp, overall sweetness that misses the whole point of being a berry in most commercially produced berries.
As hope springs eternal, I found an organic varietal berry being sold at the Santa Monica Farmers market last week. They tasted great just unwashed out of the box.
This was the simplest and least time consuming recipe to make in my hectic Friday afternoon of preparing Shabbat Dinner for guests.
If you can’t get organic local blackberries, or wild vacant lot berries, make the pie anyway and add some more lemon juice to bring up the tartness.
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
7 tablespoons ice water
8 cups fresh blackberries
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
Measure the flour out into a medium mixing bowl. Add salt and stir to combine. Add shortening to the flour and cut it in until it is like small peas. For cutting in, you may use your fingers, two forks, a pastry cutter or two knives. Combine liquids in a cup and whisk together. Add liquids to the flour and stir with a fork. When the dough is gathered together around the fork, use your hands to lightly press all of the dough into a large ball, gathering up any remaining flour stuck to the sides of the bowl. Press the dough together into a ball. For this large 9 x 13 inch dish, break the ball into two pieces, one about two thirds of the total and one ball of one third. Lightly form the two portions into discs, wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.
Since everyone in my home is very calorie conscious I have been serving one crust pies lately. With that in mind, gently toss berries, sugar, and cornstarch and lemon juice in a large bowl to create the filling. Place filling in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips from making your oven dirty.
Remove the large piece of dough from the refrigerator. You can freeze the smaller disc for another pie, crostata, or individual pie crust topped deserts on a later date. Flour a clean, dry counter top; flatten the disc of dough with your hands. Next, using a large floured rolling pin, roll dough out to a rectangle at least 11 x 15 inches. Turn and re-flour as necessary to prevent dough from sticking while you roll it out. When the dough is large enough, carefully fold dough in quarters and lift to place it over the fruit filled baking dish. Place dough in one corner and unfold over the baking dish. Double the edges and trim any excess. Poke holes in the top with the tines of a fork at random intervals or in a design. Sprinkle crust with a teaspoon of sugar and place the pie in a preheated 400° oven on the middle rack. Bake for about 40-50 minutes until filling is bubbling and crust is golden. Let the pie stand until cool before serving as the filling needs to set up somewhat before serving. Serve with ice cream if you prefer.