Friday, July 08, 2016

Blackberry Pie For The 4th

Our 4th of July celebrations tend to be pretty subdued since we have a dog who freaks out at the sound of fireworks...even ones going off miles away. There are very close by fireworks on the 3rd every year at our local high school and then on the 4th itself usually three that are close enough to hear. Our solution is to close the windows and play loud music. It works pretty well. Needless to say, we don't go out and leave Pi alone. This year we did cross the road to our neighbors to share freshly made blackberry pie in the afternoon. Mellow and no fireworks except for those on the tastebuds. Blackberries are very flavorful and fragrant when ripe and this pie also added ripe peaches to the mix. It smelled heavenly!

AM made rich, decadent vanilla ice cream using a David Lebovitz recipe. I had soy ice cream but have to admit that the soft serve vanilla was truly decadent looking. (see photo by recipe)

It's been a long time since I made a double crust pie and I'm not sure that I've ever made a blackberry pie. This one was more challenging because I decided to use lard instead of butter or shortening in the crust. The crust was the best ever, but delicate and a challenge to work with. Still, if you like flaky pie crust, it pays to find some lard. I used rendered lard, not the rectangle of hydrogenated lard you find in the market. It has a faint bacon fragrance which was kinda nice. I made a second pie with shortening for my nephew and Sweetie to enjoy the next day and that is the crust you see in the top photo. Much easier to work with!

This was an outstanding pie. I did make some changes to the given recipe (what a surprise, right?), including the step of chilling the dough. I think it's important because it gives the flour time to absorb both the water and the lubricant (lard or shortening) which makes for easier rolling. I also didn't do a lattice crust. It would have been almost impossible with the lard version. Adding the peach was also different, but I've always love the combination of blackberries and peaches, so why not?

This is truly a seasonal treat. See if you can find some ripe blackberries and peaches and enjoy it while they are at their sweet and juicy best.

Blackberry Peach Pie
based on two recipes from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham

Basic Pie Dough (Lard or Shortening)
for a 9-inch two-crust pie
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup lard or shortening, cold
6-8 tablespoons ice cold water

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl, add the shortening, and work it into the flour with a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips until the mixture resembles fresh bread crumbs. Use a light hand.

Sprinkle on the water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring lightly with a fork after each addition. Clean off the fork tines after each tablespoon. The free tines help keep the action light. Use just enough water so that the dough holds together. (I tend to work my way around the bowl, leaving clumps of dampened flour, then use the final tablespoon of water to gather it all into one mass.)

Divide the dough in half and put each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a flattened round, wrap up and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Remove first packet of dough from fridge and place on a lightly floured clean work surface. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick and 2 inches larger than your inverted pie pan. (I find that it is a good idea to turn the dough mass itself a little as you roll it out so that you can add a bit of flour to the work surface as needed to prevent sticking.) Transfer the rolled out dough to the pan using your rolling pin. Center in pan. Set aside. Remove second packet of dough from fridge and place on a lightly floured clean work surface.  Roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick and 1 inch larger than your inverted pie pan. You are now ready to fill the pie pan with the filling.

Pie Filling:
5-6 cups fresh blackberries (I used 5 cups plus one large peach [peeled, pitted and cut into chunks])
4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar (if fruit is very sweet, you can reduce it to 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Note: You can substitute other kinds of berries or stone fruit for some or all of the blackberries.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Make sure that you have the pie plate lined with dough and the top crust rolled out.

Pick over the berries, removing any moldy ones, and wash them only if they have visible dirt on the. Drain if you washed them and pat lightly with a paper towel to dry them some. Place berries and peach chunks in a large mixing bowl.

In another mixing bowl stir together the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Pour this mixture over the berries and toss gently to mix. Pile the fruit into the pastry-lined pie pan. Moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water, then carefully transfer the top crust so that is sits centered on the pie. Press down gently all around the edge to seal, then trim, roll under, and crimp or flute the edges. Slash three to four steam holes near the center of the pie with a small, sharp knife.

Place the pie pan on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and bake the pie for about 25 minutes, until the crust has begun to brown. Reduce the heat to 350d degrees F. and bake for 20 - 25 minutes more, until the top is well browned. You can place strips of foil over the edges if they start to brown too much.

Remove the baked pie from the oven and cool on a rack.

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