blackberry pie

disclaimer: i am not a pastry chef. but i like pie – no, actually i LOVE pie – but i feel like a bit of an amateur, as about half of my crusts used to turned out well, while others turned out soggy or too dark. and honestly, i’m a little nervous posting this because there are so many amazing pie/pastry chefs out there….but here goes with my story of how and why my crusts turn out really well every time now (and because i just wrote this, i’m sure my next one will flop!).

20 oz of blackberries

when deb at smitten kitchen posted a two part series on how to make a wonderful pie crust before thanksgiving last year, i was excited to read step by step directions for making the crust and rolling out the crust. both posts are worth the read and changed the way i make pie forever, both with a recipe that hasn’t failed yet and with the technique behind how to make a good crust. but in case you’re not going to read her two posts, i am going to synthesize what i learned from them in addition to my own advice – and i would love to hear from you about your own pie crust advice!

pie crust set up butter

i start making pie by putting ice cubes into water and letting them melt a bit while i measure the dry ingredients. then, i cut the butter into cubes and proceed to cut that with a pastry cutter into the dry ingredients. when the butter and dry ingredients make pea sized lumps, stop mixing. add some of the ice cold water and (this is where i start deviating from everything i’ve read about pie crusts) mix it in with one of your hands. it’s important to find the balance between over and undermixing in the water.  i spent many years afraid of melting the butter too much with my always-warm hands, and wound up trying to roll out crusts that weren’t cohesive and just crumbled all over the place. don’t let this happen to you!

ice water butter before being cut in pea shaped lumps adding water

after you have added enough water to form the pie dough into a ball, cut it into two pieces, making one a little larger than the other, as the bottom crust will always need to be a little bigger than the top. wrap each ball with saran wrap, press it into a disk shape through the  plastic, and refrigerate for at LEAST an hour. seriously, folks, do NOT skip the refrigeration step or you’ll be crying into your pie crust when it sticks to everything!

getting ready for the fridge ready for the fridge

once the dough is in the fridge, you can start working on any filling. i am particularly fond of berry pie, so when my sister in law asked for a blackberry pie for her birthday (happy bday, laura!!), i jumped at the opportunity.

rolling out the dough dough into the pie crust pouring in the berries ready for some lattice work

back to the crust – after the dough has chilled in the refrigerator, take out the bigger disk, sprinkle flour over a counter surface, the top of the dough, and your rolling pin, then start to roll. this is where i think of smitten kitchen’s advice every time: have patience! you’re not going to be able to roll the dough out in one roll or even five. so put your rolling pin in the middle of the dough, press up and back, then turn the dough 90 degrees. roll again, turn again, repeat slowly and methodically. once the dough is rolled out to about 12″ the hard part is done! carefully fold it into quarters and lift into your pie pan. open it up, fill the dough with your filling, and then repeat the process above with the smaller disc for a double crust or lattice work.

cutting the lattice creating the lattice more lattice cinnamon and sugar

whew, this has quite possibly turned into one of the longest posts on this website, and i’m going to restate a lot of this information into the recipe below so you don’t have to scroll up and down the next time you make pie. but don’t let the length or number of steps daunt you. pie crust is really quite fun to make, and regardless of how beautiful (or ugly) the finished product turns out, you just can’t go wrong with butter, fruit, and sugar! enjoy!

blowing out the candles

pie crust

adapted from smitten kitchen

yields a DOUBLE pie crust
  • 1c water with several ice cubes
  • 2½c flour
  • 1T sugar (replace with 2t flour if making a savory crust)
  • 3/4t salt
  • 1c butter
    ____________________
  1. whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl
  2. cut butter into cubes and use a pastry cutter to cut it into the flour mixture, stopping when the butter lumps are pea sized
  3. sprinkle 1/2c ice water over the top and use the other hand to mix it into the butter and flour
  4. add another 1/4c water as necessary – but once the dough can be formed into a ball, stop adding water and use both hands to make sure the dough is evenly combined without dry or unincorporated bits
  5. divide this ball of dough into two pieces, allowing one to be a bit larger than the other (this will be the lower crust)
  6. wrap the dough into two separate pieces of saran wrap and press into a disk shape
  7. allow the dough to sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, then remove the larger one to roll out
  8. sprinkle flour liberally onto a large work surface, then unwrap dough, sprinkle it with flour, and flour your rolling pin as well
  9. press your rolling pin into the dough and press from the center down towards you, then back to the center and up away from you
  10. lift and turn the dough 90º and repeat step 9
  11. repeat steps 9 and 10 until your dough is about 12″ in diameter
  12. fold the dough into quarters, move a pie dish next to it, and lift the crust into the dish
  13. unfold the dough and press into the pan
  14. trim the edges and fill the crust with filling
  15. repeat steps 8-11 for the upper crust or lattice work, cutting the dough into thumb-width strips if making lattice
  16. place the double crust on top of the pie and press the edges together by using the thumb and pointer finger of each hand to squeeze the dough both down and towards the other fingers, to allow it to pucker up a bit, continuing around the edge and finishing by making slits in the crust for the pie to bubble
  17. if making lattice, lay one piece down over the filling, then lay another across it to make a cross shape. put the next piece parallel to the first, but over the second piece. continue with an over-under pattern around the entire edge (see pictures above for details).

frozen berry pie filling

adapted from joy of cooking

  • 20 ounces of frozen berries or cherries
  • 3T quick cooking tapioca
  • 1¼c sugar
  • 1/8t salt
  • 2T melted butter
  • 1T white sugar, optional
  • 1/4t cinnamon, optional
  • 1T butter, optional
    _____________________
  1. defrost the berries by leaving out until room temp or nuking in the microwave
  2. preheat the oven to 450º
  3. pour tapioca, sugar, salt, and melted butter over the berries and stir in
  4. allow the berry mixture to sit for 15-30 minutes
  5. pour the mixture into a pie crust, then cover with a second pie crust or lattice work
  6. if desired, mix 1T sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl, then brush upper crust with melted butter and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over the entire pie
  7. place into the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350º and continue to bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown

3 Responses

  1. BB Says:

    I pretty much do it the same way except I roll the crust out between 2 pieces of waxed paper. That way I can easily turn it around and over. And when it comes time to transfer it to the pie pan, the paper helps keep it all together. I just tried to write how I do the transfer–I’ll just have to show you sometime–too complicated sounding to write.

    Did you know that Aunt Bet used to make 25 pies each week!!??!! She made them in batches of 5 for the VFW Friday night fish fry.

  2. Laura Says:

    the pie was great em!! loved it!!

  3. em Says:

    @BB: i would love to see how you roll out your pie crusts – it sounds like a great way to alleviate sticking and also to transfer the crust! I am absolutely amazed at Aunt Bet’s pie baking!!!

    @Laura: I’m glad you enjoyed it. Here’s to another year full of more pies together! :)

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