Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blackberry Pie #35

As you might recall, I mentioned earlier that Kim, my cute mother in-law, lives on an island covered in blackberry bushes. She's made a lot of blackberry pies in her day and my husband has been the lucky recipient of many of those. 

So, for his birthday, he requested one of his favorites from home: a blackberry pie. And luckily (despite all of the peach pie disasters lately), it turned out great. Nice crust, great filling, and not runny at all. (Woo hoo!)

Though despite how good it was, even after it was baked, you could tell that the blackberries were from the store. I know that's werid, but I feel like anyone that has eaten a blackberry from a bush and a blackberry from a store knows that there is a difference. It's not always horrible or anything, it's just different. (That's not just me, right?)

Not that I'm that surprised; of course they are much, much better freshly picked than they are from the store. But I was just curious, does anyone know why? Even the ones I bought from the farmers market a few weeks ago were better than the store-bought ones but was off. 

Is it the pesticides? Is is the amount of time from bush to mouth? Is there a different variety of blackberry here in the East than in the Pacific Northwest? Does anyone but me wonder about these things?
Any way, it was a good pie. I liked it and I would make it again and again. It was a near perfect consistency (which, in itself, was a confidence boost) and fairly easy. A keeper for sure.

I guess I only wanted to pose this question about blackberries since all of my intense blackberry research (i.e. that time that I googled a question about their taste) resulted in information about BlackBerry phones rather than blackberry bushes so I never really came up with an answer. And so I'm asking you, my readers (hoping that you have a bigger brain than google--or really my brain + google's), do you know how to get a good blackberry, even if there isn't a bush nearby? 

I need your help. I figure I'm not due for an answer anytime soon since I live on an island full of BlackBerrys, rather than blackberry bushes.

Blackberry Pie
(adapted from
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

6 cups blackberries (1 3/4 lb)
1 to 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sanding (coarse) or granulated sugar

For pastry: blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with rest in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water evenly over and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in processor) until incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful: It should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn't, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) after each addition until incorporated, continuing to test. (Do not overwork dough or it will become tough.)

Turn dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather each portion of dough and form it, rotating on a work surface, into a disk. Wrap disks separately in wax paper and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
For filling: Preheat Oven to 400°F.

Toss together berries, granulated sugar to taste, cornstarch, butter, lemon juice, water, and tapioca. Let stand, tossing occasionally, 20 minutes.

Roll out 1 piece of dough into a 14-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie plate (4-cup capacity). Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out top.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a roughly 16- by 11-inch rectangle. Cut crosswise into 11 (1 1/4-inch-wide) strips with a fluted pastry wheel or a knife.

Stir berry mixture, then spoon evenly into shell. Arrange strips in a tight lattice pattern on top of filling and trim strips close to edge of pan. Roll up and crimp edge. Brush top and edge with egg white and sprinkle all over with sugar.

Bake on baking sheet until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. (Check pie after 45 minutes: If edge of crust is browning too quickly, cover edge with foil or a pie crust shield and continue baking.) Cool completely on a rack before serving.


  1. Just wanted to let you know you have a reader in jackson hole wyoming! And also that I do NOT like store bought blackberries, ever. I can handle other berries, but blackberries always taste sort of bitter and tasteless from the store. You're right, it's got to be the chemicals plus shipping time. So I guess I'm of no help as far as suggestion go- just wanted to shout an amen, and tell you I love your blog!

  2. This pie looks great, but the pie you brought over on Sunday was amazing. Out of this world. To die for. I can't wait for you to post the recipe. And when you do, please post the recipe for the mandatory accompaniment-peanut butter ice cream. Merci/Gracias/Thanks a million.

  3. I know this is way late, but I like organic blackberries from Trader Joes...pretty good