Well here we are, it’s September. Late summer days are shortening already but I am hanging on for dear life to the still warm mornings and evenings, pretending that it will never turn cold again. It’s still boiling hot back home in Washington State in the beautiful Pacific Northwest after all! I have it in me to keep my head in the sand a little longer…
This time of year in Washington, one of the top fruit growing states in the USA, you drive down a highway anywhere east of the Cascade Mountains and the road is lined with little stands selling summer fruits and berries. Buckets of bright red and blue line the fog line beckoning you in to spill juice down your front as you shovel in what you can’t wait to taste when you get home.
I must say, I always recommend buying an extra punnet for the car. When I was a kid, I used to eat cherries and raspberries until my fingers turned pink and my tummy grumbled in protest. It was the absolute best!
Now, what to do with those punnets you actually get home? Well don’t just turn it all to jam – make a pie of course!
Berry pie is my absolute favourite summer dessert. Bursting with juicy flavour, natural sugars and a tang to balance every bite, I think it is the ticket to prolonged summer happiness.
Serve it warm, just cooled from the oven, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and you have equal to the American dream on a plate. I made this back for the 4th of July, which I spent here in London yet again. Homesick? Yes! But this sweet berry pie made me feel like I could smell the sparklers and hear the pop of fireworks all the way from home…
1 quantity Double Rich Pie Crust
1kg mix of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries
50g caster sugar (if the berries are tart, add a bit extra)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Pinch of salt
50g plain flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
Preheat the oven to 190°c/375°f . You will need a 28cm/12inch fluted pie tin, preferably with a removable bottom.
Start by making the pastry then form it into two flattened disks and put it in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes to rest.
In a large bowl, mix together the berries, sugar, lemon juice and zest, salt and the flours and allow to sit while you roll out the pie dough.
Roll out one disk to line the bottom of the pie case. Press the dough neatly into the corners of the case so that you get neat bottom corners when you remove it for serving and roll off the over hanging dough with your rolling pin to neaten up the top edges. Please this in the fridge while you roll out the second disk.
Roll the second disk out on a very well flour surface. Cut evenly sized strips out of the dough, making sure you can easily move them from the surface as any pulling will stretch the strips and make them irregular. Pour in the filling and begin the lattice. Starting from the center of the round and then use ever other strip going outwards. You should be following the same shape of the circle over the pie. and moving outwards on each side.
If the pastry dough has warmed up a little too much, put the whole pie in the freezer for 5 minutes. You want the pastry to be cold as possible before baking so it comes out short and crisp.
Bake the pie for a good 45 minutes on the middle shelf at 190°c/375°f for 30 minutes, check the top to make sure it doesn’t over brown and cook it for a further 15 minutes, turn the temperature down to 170°c/340°c if it’s getting a little too golden to keep it at a high temperature. I find it useful to put a square of tin foil over the top of the pie during the remaining cooking time if it starts to go too brown to early. You want to cook it the whole way through to make sure the bottom crust is done.
Allow the tart to cool down enough to handle and then carefully lift it out of the tin and slide it off the base onto a serving plate. This step is best done while the pastry is still quite warm, else it will stick to the case and break.
Berry pie is the absolute best served a la mode with good vanilla ice cream and shared with friends. Just make sure to reserve a slice for tomorrow’s breakfast… you won’t regret it.
(Thank you to my dear friend Sian Henley for the lovely photo at the beginning of this post. I was too busy pouring fourth of July punch and forgot to snap one before we sliced it!)[SHARE]