Last weekend, when I tallied up the sweets in the house, I made a decision about this week’s recipe from The Baking Bible bake-through. I eat lunch with some of my favourite people that I work, every Thursday. It started as a summer BBQ thing, many years ago, since we’re fortunate enough to have a patio and a grill available for employee use. In the summer months, we pay in a certain amount a month, and someone picks up food for the grill and gets reimbursed from the pool. A couple of years ago, we decided to try a potluck version in the winter – we rotate through main course slow cooker meals, and try to keep it relatively equitable. This week, my contribution was going to be dessert.
Here’s a conversation from lunch, from memory:
Doug: It’s quite good. I really like the crust.
Matt: Yeah, it’s good.
Doug: You have to say WHY you like it.
Me: Yeah, if you don’t give me good feedback, you won’t get quoted on my blog.
Matt: I don’t want to be quoted on your blog. It’s good.
[Me, in my head: Too bad, Matt!]
Doug followed this up with gesturing to the pie with his fork, and saying something along the lines of: Normally, I mean, other than something like lemon meringue pie, the filling just all spills out, and the top collapses. This is actually full of fruit. It’s a nice consistency.
Geordie & Jeff agreed with him. So, there you go.
This recipe uses my go-to crust for pie. I don’t know when it was first published, but I’ve learned it from the Pie & Pastry Bible (another Rose Levy Beranbaum must-have). It uses cream cheese, processed into the flour mixture, then frozen butter is pulsed in. This is followed up by some apple cider vinegar and heavy cream (though the Pastry Bible uses ice water). The result is a crumbly mix, that looks nothing like pie dough. Pinch it and it will clump together, though. See the clump in the bottom right of my food processor, for evidence:
Since this is a two crust pie, you split that up into two ziploc bags, since the next step will be easier that way. What’s the next step? Kneading it! Bet you didn’t expect that, with pie dough! In this case, you basically use your knuckles, through the sides of the bags, to push & knead the crumbly mix around and get it to a pie dough consistency. It’s amazing to watch it transform from something you wouldn’t dream of attempting to roll out, into something actually resembling dough.
Once it’s there, the key is letting it rest. I did this on Monday, then left it overnight in the fridge. The next night, I rolled out the base, put it in the pie plate, then stuck that in the fridge, well wrapped in plastic wrap… even though, if I remember right, the recipe said to chill it in the pie plate up to a max of 1 hour.
On Wednesday it occurred to me to ask, in our Alpha Bakers Facebook group, what I should change if I’m adjusting the ratio of blackberries to blueberries. I was doing so because I couldn’t find frozen blackberries, and I wasn’t about to buy >1lb of fresh blackberries in January. Rose responded right away, saying that she was in the middle of baking, but if I had the Pie & Pastry Bible, I should check out the table of fruit, where she’s listed different types of fruit, the amount needed for a standard 9″ pie, along with amounts of sugar & cornstarch.
I did so, and basically determined that the only differences between blackberries & blueberries, when it comes to pies, are: the weight that it takes to make up the right volume, and the amount of cornstarch. Blackberries need 25% more cornstarch. So, I did some math, looked at the suggested cornstarch & sugar ratios in the Pastry Bible, vs the Black & Blueberry pie recipe, figured out that the Pastry Bible was recommending far more sugar, and less cornstarch, and… ultimately, I decided not to change anything, other than to calculate the right weight of (frozen) blueberries to make up the right volume of fruit. I have a tendency to end up with slightly runny pie fillings, so I figured the slight amount “too much” of cornstarch would be fine.
The filling is pretty darn easy. Mix cornstarch, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt together. Roll out the top crust so that it’s ready. Add the blackberries and blueberries, and dump the berry mixture in the pie crust. Top the fruit mixture with the top pie crust, and tuck the top crust under the outer edge of the bottom crust, and crimp it together.
Then, bake on the pre-heated baking stone in your oven. One of my baking buddies had posted early saying that her crust had collapsed under her silicone pie shield, and it hadn’t really browned properly. Rose pointed out that metal pie shields work a bit better, because they still transfer some heat, unlike silicone, so I put it in without a shield for the first 20 minutes, hoping the outer crust would set up with the crimp – which it never does, for me. After 20 minutes, I added the silicone shield. Another tip from Rose: if you don’t have a pie shield, and don’t want to futz with aluminum foil to make one, use the outer ring from a tart pan upside-down. Might try that next time.
After another 30ish, I took it off the baking stone and moved it up a rack, because I could see that the crust was nicely browned, but the juices weren’t bubbling thickly enough, in my opinion. Ultimately, I think I ended up baking it at least an extra 20 minutes, and the center was bubbly, but not super thick bubbles like the openings on the outer edge. It looked done-ish, but it did come out looking a little gruesome…
…which reminded me of something…
I left the pie to sit overnight before taking it to work for lunch the next day. To be honest, I expected the pie to have glued itself to the pie plate, so I was expecting a bit of a mess when I served it to my friends/colleagues. I took one of the worst knives you’ve ever seen out of the drawer at work, along with a long-forgotten pie server, and cut the pie into 5 equal-ish pieces, because we had 2 deserters and 1 person who wussed out on dessert after eating too much chili (I’m looking at you, Jason). All but one piece came out perfectly, and that last piece, I ate directly from the pie plate. 🙂 As attested to in the quote above – the filling didn’t spill out, it wasn’t runny, and it was a great consistency. I’d definitely happily make it again.
One more conversation with Matt, since he didn’t want to be quoted:
Matt: What kind is it? Is it bumbleberry?
Me: Black and Blueberry.
Matt: So, doesn’t that make it bumbleberry? Isn’t anything that has more than one berry bumbleberry?
Apparently not. Apparently bumbleberry has 3 or more kinds of berries. 😉