Homemade pie, with all of its wonderful little imperfections, is pretty stinkin great. It doesn’t look like that oddly perfect-looking pie from Village Inn, Stepford Wife-esque with its unblemished crust and crimped edges. No sir. The homemade pie might have a little burnt spot on the edge. Maybe the fruit inside spilled through the seam a little. There could be a couple tears in the crust like this pie has. But unlike that store bought pie that was probably made completely by machine, this pie, the handmade pie, is baked by a real live person. Probably someone you know and love. They tended the crust (we all know pie crusts need a little TLC) and made sure nothing got too warm before baking time. They picked out the best fruit they could find. They turned on their oven in the middle of summer when the last thing anyone needs is a giant box filled with 375-degree air in their non-air-conditioned house, spewing the leftover heat into the kitchen like it’s a fire-breathing dragon. This person baked you a pie. And that, as my mom would say, is a beautiful thing.
This pie starts out, like most good things, with butter.
This crust is a little different because while the butter is still cold, you’ll roll it out so it makes little strips of butter. It’s kinda tricky but that’s cool cuz we’re going for the flakiness here.
Then it goes back in the bowl, and you’ll add buttermilk.
Then it’ll need some time to cool off in the fridge. It’s hot outside, and pie crust can feel it too.
Now, it’s berry time. These babies will get tossed with some lemon juice and sugar.
When the crust is finally done chilling, roll it out on a floured surface, gently lift it into your pie pan, sprinkle some breadcrumbs in there to help absorb all the berry juice, and pour in the berries. You can see a few spots where i had to patch the pie crust. No big deal. That’s what the homemade pie is all about!
Then, grab the other piece of dough from the fridge and roll it out, lift on top, and seal the edges. I won’t pretend I know how to beautify the edge of a pie crust, so I’ll tell you not to worry about it. No one will notice, and if they do, they’ll forget as soon as they have a bite, And if they don’t forget, take away their pie and give it to someone else. (Not that I want to deny anyone a slice of this…but still.) Make sure to cut some vents in the top so the steam from the fruit juice can escape.
I realize it’s a little late in the season for blueberries (where did you go, summer?), but if you can find them, this would be the perfect send-off for them until next year.
Blueberry Blackberry Pie
Makes 1 double-crusted 9-inch pie
For the crust:
1 cup (two sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (5-6 ounces) buttermilk, cold
For the filling:
2 pints fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh blackberries
1 cup granulated sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
a big pinch of salt
zest of 1/2 a lemon
juice from 1/2 a lemon, or more to taste
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs or crushed graham crackers
1 large egg, beaten with about a tablespoon of water
First make the crust. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Measure out your buttermilk and place it in the refrigerator so it stays cold.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Grab the butter from the freezer and toss it with the flour mixture until all the butter is coated.
Dump the cold butter and flour onto a large, clean area of counter for rolling. Using a rolling pin, roll the mixture so that the butter cubes become flat, thin sheets. Work quickly – the butter should stay cold.
Gather the rolled butter and flour, but them back into the bowl, and refrigerate for 10 minutes. When the butter is cold, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and make a well in the center of the mixture. Pour the cold buttermilk into the mixture all at once. Using your hands, bring the dough together, breaking up any clumps of milk and flour that form. The dough will be shaggy, but all the flour should be moistened. If it isn’t, add another tablespoon of buttermilk. Once it’s all mixed together, divide the dough in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
At this point, you can keep the dough in the fridge for 3 days or freezer for 3 weeks before using it. If you want to freeze it, roll the dough into sheets and wrap them in plastic wrap, then freeze.
While the crust chills, make the filling. Rinse the berries and place them in a large bowl. Add the flour, sugar, salt, zest, and juice to the bowl and stir it all together gently. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then taste it and add more lemon if needed.
After at least and hour has passed, remove one of the pie crust disks from the fridge. Flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the crust out into a circle. Lift it into the pie plate and trim the edges. Leave bout 1/2 an inch of overhand all around.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs or crushed graham crackers over the bottom of the unbaked pie crust. Slowly pour in the berries and spread them evenly with the back of a spoon. Have your egg wash ready and moisten the edges of the crust.
Place the pie plate with the bottom crust and filling in the fridge while you roll out the top crust. Make the top crust into a 12-inch circle. Remove the pie plate from the fridge and drape the top crust over the filling. Trim it back tuck the two crusts under so the dough is flush with the edge of the pie plate. The egg wash will act like a pie crust glue, keeping them together. Crimp with your fingers or the tines of a fork to seal. Cut 4 slits in the top crust to act as vents. Place the pie in the fridge to chill while the oven preheats.
Place a rack in the lower third of the oven, and a cookie sheet on another rack below to catch any juice that bubbles over. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Brush the top and outside edge of the pie with the egg wash. Generously sprinkle granulated sugar over the top. Bake the pie at 425 F for 30 minutes. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 375 F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling up through the vents. If the crust starts browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with foil while it bakes (the steam will still need to vent).
Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Don’t worry about it getting to cool. I brought my pie to a barbecue, it sat outside for about an hour and a half, and it still steamed when I cut into it. Enjoy and give yourself a pat on the back!
When I was about middle-school age, demanding and hard-to-please as any other 13-year-old girl, my great-grandma used to make me pie crust cookies every time she made a pie. Extra dough, cut up into squares, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and baked until just the tiniest bit golden, Granny’s pie crust cookies were perfection. That 95-year-old lady sure knew how to make my bratty pre-teen self happy.
Why did I like those pie crust cookies so much? I’m definitely a crust person. Save the pie crust, cheesecake crust for last. It’s the best part. I call dibs on the corner brownies. That snake-looking brownie pan in SkyMall that makes ALL the brownies edge brownies? Dream come true. I guess it runs in the family because my grandpa (Granny’s son) was also a crust and edge brownie person. It really is the best part. And this pie totally has the crust to filling ratio nailed. It’s better than a regular circular two-crust pie. Those have way too much filling. This pie has a thinner layer of apple filling, just enough to add the sweetness a pie needs, but let the crust be the star. And star it is, my friends. The crust of this pie is glorious. Buttery, flaky, and perfect. Just like pie crust cookies.
First step is the dough. We’ll bring flour, a little sugar and salt, cold butter, and cold water together into a big shaggy mess of a ball. Really cold butter and water is important – that’s what makes the crust flaky! Then it’ll sit in the fridge for a while. We don’t want the butter to get soft, because no tiny pieces of butter means no flakes.
Then we’ll peel a whole bunch of apples. I used 4 granny smith, 3 pink lady, and 2 golden delicious.
Apples get mixed with some cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a little lemon juice.
Now, we roll out the crust. This is the trickiest part. You want to work fast so the butter doesn’t get soft, and use a little more flour than you think you need to keep it from sticking to the counter. (The bottom crust of my pie totally ripped when I was transferring it to the pan…but no on can tell!)
Top crust goes on, crimp the edges, cut some vents, brush with an egg wash. And just look at how beautiful this behemoth of a pie is.
Apple Slab Pie
From Smitten Kitchen – I think hers is the best pie crust ever
Serves 15+, depending on how you cut it. I was going for 18 but messed up on the cutting, and if you cut it into 15 the pieces are pretty big. But definitely manageable 🙂
For the Crust:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons table salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
3/4 cup very cold water
For the Filling:
3 1/2-4 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into about 1/2-inch chunks (about 8 cups)
Squeeze of lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar (or 3/4 cup if you want it sweeter)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk, lemon juice, apple cider, maple syrup (you’ll need more than a tablespoon for syrup) or other preferred liquid (would have used bourbon if I hadn’t brought it to work), plus a little more if needed
Make the pie crust:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter using a pastry blender, two forks, or your hands until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir the water in gently with a rubber spatula, mixing until a craggy mass forms. Knead the dough a few times with your hand to form a ball.
Divide the dough in half (it’s ok – possibly better – if one piece is slightly larger than the other). Flatten each half into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to two days. You can also freeze the wrapped dough in a freezer bag for a couple months. Leave it in the fridge for a day to defrost.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 10x15x1-inch cookie sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
Prepare the filling:
In a large bowl, toss the apples with lemon juice until coated. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly coated.
Assemble the pie:
On a floured surface, roll one of the dough halves (the bigger one if they weren’t quite even) into an 18×13-inch rectangle. It will be kind of hard, but do your best to work quickly, keep the dough as cold as possible, and use enough flour so that it doesn’t stick to the counter. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. It will overhang a bit, use this to fill in the corners and edges of the pan. Some should still hang over the sides of the pan, trim the overhang to 3/4 inch.
Pour the apple mixture in the pan and spread evenly.
Roll the other half of the dough (the smaller one) into a 16×11-inch rectangle. Drape it over the filling and fold the overhang of the bottom crust over the edges of the top crust, sealing them together. Cut slits all over the top crust to act as vents. Brush with cream or egg wash. Bake 40-45 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling. Cool on a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and liquid until thin enough to pour. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the pie. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pie will keep at room temperature for 3 days.