Nicely Picked Blackberry Pie

Sometimes The Boy is such a mensch. He was lounging round the other day, watching the US Open on TV, NHL.com on his computer and playing double solitaire on his smartphone, when my mother called. She wanted fresh blackberries for her pie and would someone pick them? Today? I told her I was heading to a meeting, but I’d do it as soon as I got back.

The Boy must’ve overheard, because when I returned, not only had he picked the blackberries, he’d picked the big, juicy, sweet ones we’ve only ever found by the river.

I was so happy. So was his grandma. And so were all the folks who had her blackberry pie for dessert that evening.

Double Crusted Blackberry Pie

The pie crust really matters here. My mother swears by Cook’s Illustrated Foolproof Pie Dough, the secret ingredient of which is vodka. And that crust is pretty impressive. But I actually prefer the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, From My Home to Yours, which uses a higher butter-to-shortening ratio. (In a pie crust, butter provides the taste, while shortening provides the flakiness.) Please note that whichever pie crust you choose, you’re going to need to let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.

Anybody-Can-Make-A-Pie-Crust, double crust (see below)

4 cups fresh blackberries
3 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup unbleached sugar (you can use the regular stuff, too)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp butter, cut in a at six or so pieces

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

  1. Butter a 9-inch pie plate. Then, between plastic wrap, roll out the first piece of dough to about ⅛” thickness. Transfer the dough to the buttered pie plate, fit in, trim the edges to ½” overhang and cover with plastic wrap. Between plastic wrap, roll out the second piece of dough to about ⅛” thickness. Keep between the plastic wrap and place on baking sheet. Refrigerate both the pie shell and top.
  2. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425º.
  3. Combine the blackberries, flour, sugar, and lemon. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove pie shell and top from the fridge. Place the filling in the pie shell and dot with the butter.
  5. Center the top crust over the filling and gently press down. Now for the tricky part: fold the overhang from the top crust over the bottom and then crimp the edges. I like the classic scalloped look: Use your index finger to push the inner edge out while pinching the outer edge in with the thumb and index finger of your other hand.
  6. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a few slits in the top crust. Then place the pie plate on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes (you don’t have, too, but if you can, do).
  7. Right before baking, brush the top crust with the egg wash, then sprinkle the crust with a little sugar.
  8. Bake 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375º and bake for another 30 minutes or so until the crust is a gorgeous golden brown and the filling is bubbling up through the slits.
  9. Transfer to pie rack and cool for at least 30 minutes before serving with mascarpone sweetened slightly with icing sugar and almond flavoring.

Anybody-Can-Make-A-Pie-Crust (for a 9-inch double crust)
adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tbsp unbleached sugar (you can use the regular stuff, too)
1-½  tsp salt
2-½  sticks (10 oz) very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces; put in the freezer after you prep
⅓ cup very cold (frozen is best) non-hydrogenated shortening (I use Earth Balance); put in freezer after you prep
About ½ cup ice water

  1. Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until combined (2-3 pulses’ll do it).
  2. Add the butter and shortening and pulse only till the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo it; you want the mixture to be about the size of cottage cheese curds.
  3. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of water over the mixture, then pulse a few long times. You want a dough that will stick together when pinched, so use more water if you need to. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Gather each half into a ball, flatten each ball into a disk and wrap each half in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling (or up to 2 days).
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