Apple and berry pies
By Ilene Duffy
Issue #118 • July/August, 2009
Go to your room!" bellows our friend, John Silveira. He is kidding of course. I mean, how mad can somebody really be when they're eating your homemade pie while sitting on a sunny deck enjoying God's great outdoors. He's bellowed this phrase to me before when he's asked me the ingredients and how I've prepared various dishes I've concocted and all I can come up with is, "well, I put in about a cup and a half of this, and a few shakes of that...."
I even amazed myself a few weeks ago when we had friends over for dinner and I made the best apple and blackberry pie. I realized when they were all oohing and ahhing over the yumminess of the pie that I hadn't measured anything while preparing it. So when daughter, Annie Tuttle, our new managing editor, asked me to write this column about my pie recipes, I thought I'd better back-track while making a pie and actually measure each ingredient to see if I could duplicate that wonderful pie.
My favorite pies to make are ones that have apple and berry combinations. I use blackberries that I've picked from our own bushes and have frozen in quart zip lock bags, fresh blueberries when they are in season, and sometimes I've combined strawberries and apples. Once in a blue moon some strawberries don't get eaten up fast enough, but they're still plenty good enough to add to a pie....and oh boy, that's a great way to use up those precious berries so they don't go to waste!
Tricks of the trade
I've been a pie-making-mama for a long time now, and I listen carefully when friends and family talk about how they make pies. For making crusts, my friend's father told her to add the flour to the shortening, while most folks do it the other way around and add the shortening to the flour mixture. My mom used to add a bit of orange juice for the liquid instead of just cold water for her crusts and they always came out so nice. My own trick that I've discovered that works for me is to use two bowls to make each pie crust individually rather than in the same bowl. I know other people can make wonderful pie crusts for a double crust pie and mix all the ingredients together, but I've found that if I do one crust in each bowl, they turn out much flakier and are easier to roll out. And of course, there's the big #1 rule of thumb with pie doughs and that is don't mess with them anymore than you need to. Cut in the shortening with as few strokes as possible, add as little liquid as possible to get the dough to stick together, and lastly, roll out gently, but quickly.
I'm not a gadget girl and am kind of old-fashioned in the way I do things in the kitchen. I don't have a garbage disposer (that's what chickens are for) and I don't even have a dishwasher (my dad said that's what kids are for!) But some items sure do make pie-making a pleasure. While visiting relatives once, I needed to roll out the pie dough using the cleaned kitchen counter that I dusted with flour, while using the side of a glass to roll the dough out. Not too easy, but it worked. I much prefer to use my tried and true pastry cloth and rolling pin. And a pastry cutter also comes in handy, but if you don't have one, you can cut in your shortening or butter using two knives, crisscrossing this way and that until the shortening is cut into small pieces.
So now, John won't need to holler at me anymore...at least not about my pie recipes...since I measured carefully when I made this scrumptious apple blackberry pie.
Apple blackberry pie:
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1½ cups blackberries
¾ cup sugar
1½ tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp. instant tapioca pudding
1 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. butter
Crust ingredients for EACH crust:
(You'll need twice the amount of the ingredients listed below for a double crust pie.)
1 cup flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp. salt
2 pinches of baking powder
½ cup shortening
1 Tbsp. butter
Peel, core, and cut the apples and place in a large bowl. Wash, drain, and add the blackberries. In a smaller bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, corn starch, tapioca pudding, and whole wheat flour. Add to the apples and berries and gently mix just to coat. Set bowl aside.
For the crusts, use two bowls. To each bowl add the flour and the whole wheat flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix each set of dry ingredients. Add the ½ cup of shortening to each bowl as well as the butter. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening and butter until it is in small pieces. Don't overdo this step. Use a fork and sprinkle in enough cold water, mixing the dry ingredients as you sprinkle the water. Clumps of dough will form. You can set them aside and continue to sprinkle the water on the dryer portions until it looks like the dough will hold together.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread out your pastry cloth. Sprinkle with flour and add flour to the cloth on the rolling pin. Gently pat one of the batches of dough into a circle about 5 inches wide. Then gently roll the dough into a circle. Take your pie plate and hold over the crust. Your crust needs to be about an inch wider in circumference than the pie plate. Once it's big enough, gently fold the crust in half, place it on one side of the pie plate and unfold. Poke a few holes with a fork in the bottom crust. Add your apple blackberry mixture, but don't add all of the liquid that forms at the bottom or your pie will be goopy and runny. Take a tsp. of butter and add small dollops here and there on top of the fruit filling.
Add more flour to the pastry cloth and rolling pin. Roll out the top crust. This one needs to be just a bit wider than the top of the pie. Again, fold it in half, place it on top of the pie, then unfold to fit evenly across the top. Use your fingers to crimp the edge of the top crust over the edge of the bottom crust. I like to make ridges in the edge of the dough as I do this. Again, don't fiddle with the dough any more than necessary. Poke holes in the top crust. My trademark is a happy face. Bake for about 1 hour until the crust looks warmly golden. Cool on a cooling rack.
You can make this exact same pie, just substituting blueberries or strawberries instead of the blackberries.
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