My grandmother was known for her fresh berry and apple pies. She spent many hours in the woods just next to her NW home picking wild berries. The smallest blackberries were her favorite, with smaller seeds and a tart taste. We spent many years watching her in the kitchen making, not just one pie, but multiple. She was the Master.
My brother and mother have spent time re-creating her flaky pie crust and they have both found their own methods. I am a late bloomer here and decided it was high time to join the pie making ranks in the family. My husband, Conrad and I spotted some blackberries at a field near our home and decided to try our hand at some true NW foraging. Of course a debate ensued first, “why not just buy a pie crust from the store?”, he asks. “Why not just buy a pie from one of those restaurants with the cases”? I respond. Uh, what’s it called, Shari’s? Of course, because, it’s just not the same. After purchasing our buckets and debating the value of time and picking berries and spending a few hours making a pie from scratch, we’re committed.
Picking berries, I find, is very rewarding. It’s the simple act of picking one berry at a time and the hunt for hidden clusters. You get into a rhythm. You’re out in nature, you’re participating in the world in a very simple way, foraging for food. Ok, maybe that’s taking it a bit too far, but I do find that it’s peaceful and zen like once I get into it. The competitive side takes over and I start to become more efficient. I’m wondering how Conrad is doing and if my bucket is filling faster. I figure out a way to take more than one berry at a time. I’m a machine. I was in the moment, now I’m not. We have enough berries for at least two pies and it really only took about one hour. We’re proud of our stash and now on to make the pies. We’re officially NW berry pickers, foragers, maybe that’s taking it too far.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 Tbls. sugar
- 1⅛ cup chilled Crisco
- About 6-8 tablespoons of very hot water (not boiling water)
- For filling:
- 5 cups of fresh currants, blackberries, raspberries, cut up strawberries, blueberries, huckleberries, marionberries, or loganberries (store bought can be substituted)
- ⅔ to 1 cup sugar (depending on how sour or sweet berries are – less sugar for sweet berries)
- ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- If the fruit is juicy, add:
- Optional – 1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.
- 9-inch pie pan/dish
- Whisk together in a large bowl the dry ingredients for the dough, flour, sugar and salt.
- Cut in the chilled Crisco.
- Using either a pastry tool or two kitchen knives, break up the Crisco into smaller pieces. Some say "pea" size but you don't have to break it up quite that small.
- Add the hot water one tablespoon at a time to the mixture. Add the water so the dough is all sticking together. If it seems like it is cracking, add more water. This will vary with humidity/temperature etc..
- Form into two equal size discs, wrap lightly in saran and put in the refrigerator. Chill for one hour.
- Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
- For filling, combine the berries, flour, sugar and lemon juice. Set aside.
- When dough has finished chilling, put light dusting on cutting board and dough. Roll out so it exceeds the pie dish by about 1" or more.
- Gently wrap the dough over the rolling pin and transfer to a 9-inch, non-greased pie pan.
- Gently form the dough into the pan (lifting the sides helps). Patch any holes with excess dough.
- Add your pie filling to the pie plate with base dough. Dot the small pieces of butter evenly onto the top of the filling.
- Remove and roll out the second ball of dough as before. Cover the pie with the dough.
- Trim the excess dough with a knife so there is ¾-inch overhang beyond the edge of the pan. Fold the dough under so it forms a thicker edge.
- Crimp the edge using your thumb and forefinger on one hand and index finger on the other hand to form a sealed, wavy edge.
- Cut several vents in top crust with a sharp knife.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.. Reduce heat to 350-degrees F and bake 35 to 40 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool completely on a rack.