Sunday, May 20, 2007

Blackberry Pie

This time of year just screams for pies because of all the wonderful fruit that's available. Admittedly, I used frozen berries. For one thing, they hold their shape better and they're a lot cheaper. I could have easily spent $20 on berries just to get the amount I needed for the recipe! One day I hope to have a berry patch of my own.

I wonder if berry plants do well in containers. I imagine probably not because they sort of sprawl. Growing up, we used to have a boysenberry plant in our yard. It was so worth it to get pricked by those awful needles just to taste one of those succulent berries.

In any case, I'm going to discuss how to make the pie crust because it's fool proof and it only uses butter, no shortening. I messed up today yet the pie still looks grand I think! This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated and it was my 3rd time making the crust.

Makes 1 9-inch double-crust pie shell

-2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
-1 tsp salt
-1 T sugar
-16 T unsalted butter
-3 T sour cream
-1/3 cup ice water

-Process flour, salt, and sugar together in the food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until butter is the size of large peas, about 10 1-second pulses.

- Using fork, mix sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water in a bowl until combined. Add half of sour cream mixture to flour mixture; pulse for three 1-second pulses. Repeat with remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough is floury, dry and does not hold together, add 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water and process until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to give 1-second pulses.

- Turn dough onto work surface. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk; wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, 1 to 2 hours before rolling. (Dough can be fridged for up to 24 hours. Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling).

Rolling the Dough Out
Roll disk out between large
2 large sheets of parchment paper to 12-inch circle (about 1/8 inch had success with the bottom crust but had terrible luck with the top crust.) It's clever because you remove parchment from one side of the dough round, and flip (easier to flip parchment than a granite slab!) it into 9-inch pie plate; and then you peel off the second layer! Working around the circumference of the pie late, ease dough into plate by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand.

During the roll out, if the dough becomes soft or sticky, put back in the fridge until it gets hard again.

It's really important that all the ingredients are chilled so that the butter does not melt. Having little butter pieces cut into the flour is what make this crust flake. Apparently, shortening flakes beautifully and is easier to work with but it's so bad for you. So I chill everything including the flour, salt, and sugar for 30 minutes. I also placed fridged butter and water in the freezer for 30 minutes to help keep everything as cold as possible.

The challenge is rolling it out. Use a fair amount of flour, it really helps when rolling it out and will prevent the dough from sticking to the surface it's rolling out on. Normally I roll it on a granite slab but today I tried using the parchment paper method described above. It worked for the first dough disk but not the second. It's possible that I rolled it too thin and it got soft. I placed the rolled out dough in the fridge to harden again but when I went to peel the dough, it ripped and a lot of it was stuck to the parchment. Yikes! So I had to take what was left, reform a disk, and placed it in the fridge for 15 minutes before I rolling it out again. I was convinced that it would not turn out because I could no longer see the flecks of butter (it's not a good sign if you don't) but it did!

Personally, I like rolling out the dough on the counter or other work surface. While the flip trick is kind of neat the whole sticking business was enough to turn me off.

Oh, after rolling out the first piece, place it in the fridge so that it remains firm and butter solidifies again so that it can flake. After rolling the second piece, also place it in the fridge to firm up before assembling the pie together. The blackberry pie ingredients are the same as what I used for the blueberry pie which I blogged about in December/January except of course for the blackberries!

I certainly enjoy eating what I bake but it is so much better when you share food with others. It just tastes better. Why does it? Today I shared with my neighbors with 6 cats and 1 dog who provided vanilla ice cream as an accompaniment (not the pets but the neighbors!) . I think they enjoyed it. P&P, thanks for having me over.

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