I’ve spent the last month doing a lot of other things than cooking & baking. I refinished some furniture, learned how to sew, spent an embarrassing amount of time decorating our Christmas tree, & threw out too many pieces of sew-on velcro because sewing in a straight line to make pillow covers is harder than it sounds.
But I’m back in the kitchen.
And just in time for winter to blow in. Brrrr. Time for hot chocolate. Christmas cookies. Mashed potatoes. Warm breads. Heavy soups. Wool socks. Faux fur blankets. Frank Sinatra’s Christmas album. Warmly lit candles. Bundles of birch wood. Red velvet tree skirts.
And pie. It’s time for pie. Well in truth, we all know it’s always time for pie. I had a left over pie crust from Thanksgiving so I decided to make a blueberry blackberry pie today. Thickened & richened by homemade brown sugar & Penzey’s Korintje Cinnamon.
Brown sugar is super easy to make. It requires a ratio of 1 cup of granulated sugar, to 1 tablespoon of molasses (or more, depending how dark you want to make it). You can get all fancy and use a hand mixer or stand mixer to combine them, but I find using my hands is easier and actually faster. Just put your hand in the bowl of sugar and molasses and rub it, squish it, push it, pluck at it—move it around, until it combines and looks like this:
You can use frozen or fresh blackberries and blueberries. I used frozen blueberries and fresh blackberries, because that’s what I had. If you can find wild blue berries at the store, then yum…pick those, pick those! They’ll taste most distinctly.
This pie filling is a rather simple concept: mix dry ingredients and then coat fruit. Wa-la.
The trickiest part of pie is of course, the crust. Here’s a little trick: make extra!! Make whatever recipe you’re trying, times 1.5. This way if you can’t get it to roll out to the thin + elastic perfection Ree Drummond can, well, you can still make a darn fine pie anyways. You don’t need to 1.5x my recipe below, I’ve already taken care of that for you.
The best part of this pie is that it gives the spotlight to what matters most: the blackberries & blueberries. It’s not overly sweet. The beauty of fruits like blueberries and blackberries is that they are delicate, and yet somehow at the same time bold.
If you want to make a lattice pie crust, you totally can. You just need a pizza cutter or knife. Cut your top pie crust in strips, and follow the instructions here: weave a lattice pie crust
Here are some other tips when making a pie crust, especially if you’re trying for the first time:
- Remember you are making a homemade pie. It’s going to be delicious, duh. So if the crust is not perfect, it doesn’t matter. Just go for it.
- If you don’t have a pastry cutter to “cut in” the butter and shortening, use your hands. That’s what I do, instead of the common alternative of using forks. Forks take FOREVER and a day. I am not that patient. Just google an image like this one, and work the dough between your fingers/hands until it looks like that consistency. Is this a terrible faux pas in baking? I’m not sure, but it works!
- When you think you’ve rolled out the bottom crust wide enough, hold your pie pan upside down just above it. Did you roll it out large enough? You’ll want about 2-4 extra inches all the way around, so that it can drape over the edges of the pie pan (see photo). Then when you finish your lattice you can use the excess to roll up around the rim and pinch to create a pretty edge.
- You can pinch or “flute” your pie crust with your own two hands. Check out this photo.
- But wait…how do you get the crust into the pan in the first place? I’ve tried a few ways, but find using my rolling pin the easiest. See photo here or here, for examples of what to do.
- Don’t have a rolling pin? Don’t give up. You can still make a pie. Use a bottle of wine or bottle of olive oil. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
- Put a rimmed baking pan under your pie in the oven in case the filling bubbles over, to avoid a smoky panic.
- When you fill the pie, make it a hearty little mound. You don’t want the pie to be concave.
- Finally, we’re not trying to win an award here, we’re trying to eat a delicious pie, so if you put your heart into it, your family & friends will love the result no matter what.
Go for it! Go make a pie. You can do it!
Love + peace + pie,
- 3 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 and 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- 1 and 1/8 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
- 3/4 cup ice water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 - 12oz packages of frozen blueberries (or the equivalent in fresh)
- 2 - 60z packages of fresh blackberries (or the equivalent in frozen)
- The juice from 1/2 of a lemon
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut in fourths
- Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening.
- Using a pastry cutter, two forks, or your hands, cut the butter and shortening into the mixture until it resembles coarse meal (pea-sized or bean-sized bits, with a few larger bits.)
- Start drizzling the ice water into the mixture, 1 Tablespoon at a time. Stir after every Tablespoon added, until large clumps form. Don't use more water than you need. I never end up using the full 3/4 cup.
- Dump the pie dough out onto a floured work surface. The dough should come together easily and should not feel overly sticky. Using floured hands, fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated. Roll into a ball with your hands, and divide the dough in half by slicing it with a knife. Roll each half into a ball, and wrap with plastic wrap. In the plastic wrap, flatten each into a 1-inch thick disc. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Mix sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Gently stir in fruit.
- Roll out your first pie crust.
- Line your pan with the first pie crust, so the edges drape over the sides.
- Pour the filling into pastry-lined pan into a nice mound. I had a little bit of filling left over.
- Drizzle with lemon juice and place the 4-chunks of butter evenly throughout the pie.
- Prepare the top pie crust. Either prepare a lattice crust (see notes in post) or you can simply roll it out round, cover the pie, and then make small slits near the center to vent the pie.
- After placing/making your top pie crust, seal it and flute the edges (see notes in post).
- Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350F and bake for 45 minutes or so. You will know it's done when the filling is bubbling and the top is golden.