Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blackberry Pie with Buttermilk Crust

We've had blackberries growing in the back yard for about 3 years now.  The first couple of years, we'd only get enough fruit to eat in small handfuls...not enough to make anything, and certainly not enough to make jam, a coffee cake, or a pie.

But this year we have berries galore.  I'm guessing it's from the relatively cool spring we had, which helped a lot of the blooms set.  David has to go out and pick 'em every other day.  We've already picked at least a couple of quarts...and I probably have 2 quarts in the fridge right now.  These blackberries are not quite as sweet as what you might get in the store...but they taste incredible, especially right off the vine...warm, slightly tart, and bursting with juice the second you bite down. 

So, the only proper thing to do with all these berries is to make a pie, right?  I could make some jam...I did make 16 pints of strawberry jam when we went picking at a local farm last month.  But I just don't have the time right now.  Swim team has taken over my life...literally, since the middle of May.  The kids LOVE it...but we are at the pool every day except Sunday and Monday.  In between then...I am washing towels, swimsuits, children, and picking up flip-flops, crocs, and googles.  Every day between Tuesday and Saturday.   It's exhausting! 

(On the plus side, my tan is coming along nicely. ;-) 

Anyways, here is a blackberry pie with a buttermilk pastry crust, since I had some buttermilk in the fridge to use up.  Fresh berries are a must...I can't vouch for how your pie will turn out if you use frozen berries.

Blackberry Pie with Buttermilk Crust


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 tablespoons buttermilk


5 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and patted dry
1 1/2 cups sugar
Scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice

We'll start with the crust so it has time to chill.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. 

Cut the butter into small cubes, and use a pastry cutter, 2 knivers, or your hands (my preferred method) to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture. 

Do this gently...a few bits of pea-sized butter is fine.  The rest of the mixture should look like coarse cornmeal. 

Add half of the buttermilk, and stir until the mixture starts to lump together. 

Pour in the rest of the buttermilk and bring all the lumps together.  You should have a nice ball of dough. 

Pat it into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refridgerate for at least 1/2 an hour. 

Meanwhile, combine the blackberries, sugar, flour, and cornstarch in another large bowl.  Set aside.

When the dough has chilled enough, remove it from the fridge and divide it in half.  On a well-floured work surface, roll the dough out to fit a 9 inch pie dish. As you can see, it doesn't have to be perfect...any holes, tears, or uneven edges can be patched...and no one will ever know. 

Lay your dough in the pan, pressing gently up on the side, and tucking the excess under the edge.  I know the experts would have you trim it off, but I never do.  I love a thick crust on a pie, and so does everyone else in our house. 

Now take your filling, and pour it into the prepared bottom crust.  The best way to do this is to use a large slotted spoon to get alll the berries, shaking them from the flour/sugar mixture first.  Then when all the berries have been arranged, used a regular spoon to evenly distribute the flour/sugar mixture all over the fruit. 

Place the pie in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.  One little tip about pie crust...make it cold and keep it as cold as possible until you're ready to bake prevents shrinkage. 

Once your top crust is ready, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Place the top crust on the pie, fold and crimp the edges, and cut 3-4 holes to allow steam to vent.  Brush the top all over with some cream or milk and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of sugar.  I had some turbinado sugar, so I used that, but rest assured, regular, granulated sugar is fine.

Bake the pie for about 1 hour, rotating it halfway through the baking time if your oven heats unevenly.  Mine does a bit, so I always rotate everything. 

Allow to cool completely before serving, so the filling has a chance to set up.

My pie looked runny even after it cooled, so I let it sit overnight.  It was still runny-looking.  I put in in the fridge the next day to see what would happen.  Still looked loose, but we cut into it tonight.  As you can see, the filling ran out bit, but the berries were intact, and it tasted GREAT.  Rebecca ate her piece and finished her sister's portion too. ;-)  Next time, I will see about adding more cornstarch, using less flour, adding tapioca, etc.  Comments and suggestions are welcome!

Despite the loose filling, the pie did turn out pretty, and I can't wait to dig into some more recipes using our blackberries.  We should be picking for a couple more long as the kids don't get to them first.

God bless your table tonight!

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