Monday, September 16, 2013

Triple Berry Pie

Years ago, Martha Stuart was asked in an interview if she had ever used a frozen pie shell. Deeply offended, she denied it, saying it was too quick and easy to make a pie crust from scratch. My mother, upon hearing this, laughed at Martha.
For years, I thought my mom, who could make the perfect blackberry pie filling with her eyes closed, was just being lazy, or was using the wrong recipe, or was impatient, or something. I mean, there's no way Martha Stuart would lie, right?
Well, of course, we all know Martha Stuart is capable of telling a lie or two here and there.

Anyhow, my mom wanted a pie and I decided to take her on, proving once and for all how simple it must be to make a pie entirely from scratch. I poured through recipe after recipe, trying to find one that I could make with the ingredients already in our kitchen. I ended up finding a berry pie recipe from Instructables. Though I didn't end up using the recipe for the berry filling, I found the dough recipe and instructions to be incredibly helpful.

I'm not going to share the recipe with you, though. If you visit the website, you'll see what I mean. There is no way to make that dorm (or college student) friendly. Absolutely no way. It takes way too much time (read: energy) and ingredients (read: money) for a college student to be making this. If you really want to make a berry pie, just be like my mother and use a frozen pie shell. Nobody's going to judge you. You're a college student, after all. Plus, this berry filling recipe is so good, nobody will notice your pie shell.
But I digress. Here is a slightly altered, dorm/college student friendly version of this pie

1 package of frozen pie shell (contains two shells). Don't cheap out on this part.
4 cups of fresh and juicy berries (I used 2 cups blueberries, 1 cup blackberries, 1 cup raspberries). But, really, any combination of any berries would work. Avoid strawberries if possible, though, as they are more acidic and may alter the chemistry in the filling)
2/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice (from the bottle works great, or if you just want to squeeze half a lemon over the bowl, that will work too).
1 egg white mixed with 1 Tablespoon of milk OR 1-2 Tablespoons of butter (optional)

Remove pie shells from freezer.
Prepare berries by picking, hulling, and washing them. Be sure to dry them, as well. This is where a salad spinner comes in handy. But shaking a small amount in a pasta strainer will work well enough for our purposes.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together berries until they are mixed (if using multiple types of berries)
Next, slowly add sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Stir together with a wooden or plastic spoon (anything but metal, if at all possible). The sugary mixture should create a sort of paste that will thicken the berry filling. Be careful when stirring the filling, so as to avoid breaking the berries. It's ok if a few break, as they are fragile it's difficult to avoid, but be cautious not to overwork them.
Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
If desired, use a pastry brush to brush whisked egg yoke and milk mixture onto the bottom of 1 pie shell, or, alternatively, dot melted butter along the bottom of the shell. This will prevent it from getting soggy and messy once the filling has been added.
Next, spoon the filling into that pie shell. Use a spoon or a spatula to make the surface roughly even.
Then, take the other pie shell and place it on top of the 1st pie shell (the top one should be removed from the tin pan that comes with it in the package. If the shell breaks, use the pieces to create a design along the top in whatever artistic fashion you desire. You may always use a knife or a cookie cutter to create shapes to be on the top of your pie.
Now, place the pie in the oven. Bake for approximately 40 minutes to an hour (this all depends on your pie shell and your oven. When in doubt, follow the instructions on the pie shell, since that is the more likely to burn or become overdone than the filling itself. Remove when the pie shell has become golden brown.

Serve this pie while it's still warm, though it will taste good cold as well. Create Pie A La Mode by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. French vanilla ice cream pairs well with any pie that contains blackberries.

My mom was out of the house when I made this pie. And, of course, when she returned home she had in her hand a strawberry rhubarb pie. However, we did the taste comparison. And mine was better, hands down. Plus, mine was prettier. I mean, look at this thing! This is what all food should look like.

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