August, the sweet time of year when you start to realize that summer is gradually making it’s way out the door, allowing room for lovely Autumn to make its way in. Schools are starting up again, you’ve finally gotten your fill of sunshine, and your summer bucket list is nearly completed. But. Before we get tooooo excited about Fall weather, (read: Lael, put your wool sweaters back in the closet), let’s have one more summer hoo-rah and make a blackberry pie! It is my yearly tradition to go out in mid August, track down as many wild blackberries as I can, and make fresh, homemade blackberry pie. There is nothing as satisfying as going out and picking your own ingredients to put into a pie made with love. My sister Holly and I went out this past Saturday, and wore our best thorny-bush-stompin’ shoes, and got right up in there to get the best berries on the bushes. Those perfect, ripe little jewels, just ready to be picked, seem to scream out, ‘pick me! pick me!’ Ok, only if you insist.
The fresh blackberries are one of my most favorite things about the Pacific Northwest. Every year, as summer gets going, I get that little girl on Christmas morning kind of excitement, a kind of anticipation that takes patience and strategic planning; show up too early, and there won’t be enough ripe berries. Show up too late, and all the berries are overripe and beginning to shrivel and fall. But, show up at jussssssst the right time, and you hit the jackpot. Perfect, plump, juicy, fresh, organic treats, ready to be harvested. It’s just so dang exciting. This time, we hit the nail right on the head. Perfect timing.
In Seattle, there are blackberry bushes EVERYWHERE. But the trick is to find the ones that don’t get a lot of traffic from passersby plucking them off the bush and popping them into their mouths. We have a secret spot that never disappoints us year after year. But, shhh, I can’t tell you where it is. Okay, maybe one day, I will. But right now, we’re still getting to know each other…
It doesn’t take too long, and before you know it, you have a bucket full o’ berries. We usually end up with more than we need, but, come on, is there any such thing as too many? I didn’t think so. The end result is very satisfying. One big heap of big succulent berries. This is the epitome of summer.
Finley usually does a pretty good job of making sure I don’t miss any good spots on the bush. Such a helper, that guy.
Now that we have the riches of fresh berries, it’s time to head home and put them into a pie! However, if you are not close to fresh berry bushes, or just really don’t care to go out and pick them, do not fret! Fresh or frozen berries of any kind work perfectly for this recipe, and can be picked up at your favorite local market. 🙂
Ready to bake? I knew you were! Let’s get cookin’.
First and foremost, rinse your berries well and let them air dry. While they are ‘resting’, ahem, (it’s been a long day for them, allow them to relax), kick off your shoes, and go barefoot in the kitchen. It just feels so right for this. Next, put on some perfect baking music. Lastly, put on that classic apron, the one with the flour still on it from previous successfully baked pies. Yep, that’s the one.
When I bake pies, I use the same recipe every time. It’s simple, easy, and hard to mess up. Gather your ingredients and have them at the ready.
Mix together your COLD cubed butter, flour and salt. If you’ve got a pie cutter, great! I could not find mine anywhere, so I used a potato masher. HA! Use whatcha got. Don’t have a potato masher, you say? Use your hands! There are no rules in pie making. Oh! Except to use exact measurements. You can do this.
Once the dry ingredients are all nicely combined, add your water, a little at a time. This will cause everything to hold together, and enable you to form one large ball of dough. You will need your hands for this. Just get dirty. It’s all part of the experience. Cover your dough in plastic wrap, and allow to chill for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix your berries with 1/2 cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Stir, and let sit for 15 minutes. Once chilled, remove the dough and cut into 2 disks, making one side slightly larger for the bottom crust.
Now, liberally flour your surface and rolling pin, because you do NOT want your dough sticking to your counter. Roll each disk out to approximately 9” . Don’t overthink it though! This is rustic, homemade and enjoyable. No one will look at how perfect your dough looks. Have fun with it. Once it’s the right size, lay your crust into a pie plate.
Now its time to add the filling! A very satisfying part, indeed.
Mmmmm. Looks good already, right? One last step to go! See? I told you this was easy! Roll out your other piece of dough, and use a pastry cutter wheel to get pretty edges for a lattice top. Don’t have a pastry cutter wheel? Don’t even know what one of those are? Pshhhh, that’s totally ok! Google it, and then use a knife, silly.
We’re sooooo close!!! Brush the top with an egg/water mixture and sprinkle with some sugar. Then pop that bad boy into a preheated 375* oven. Put the whole pie on a foil lined sheet pan to pick up any drippings. Also, cover the top of the pie with foil to prevent any burning. Set your timer for 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.
There you have it, folks! The easiest, most delicious, crowd pleasing dessert you can find! Now you can rest easy, knowing that your annual pie making tradition is complete for the summer of 2015. Take off that apron, turn off the oven, and let that pretty pie cool in a window sill. Leave the dishes for later. The lazy days of summer are not here forever, so take advantage. Now, slice up your pie, share it with your neighbors, your friends, your coworkers- it’s meant to be shared with the people you care about. But don’t forget to save one piece for you! (And ME!)
Until next time friends, happy summer, and happy pie baking!