Advertisement

Berries: Nature's gift to the pie baker

July 17, 2010|By MARLENE PARRISH / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I remember our small back porch in the suburbs. Almost every afternoon in my pre-teen years, I would sit on the top step, the late sun in my eyes, helping Mum get the day's Victory Garden pickings ready for supper.

With pages from the previous day's newspaper spread out to catch the leavings, I might shell peas or top and tail beans. Strawberries needed their hulls removed and black raspberries needed to be gone over to check for jaggers, while the swivel peeler made quick work of carrot and potato skins.

In later summer, July apples needed to be peeled, cored and sliced for pie or sauce. Zucchini blossoms needed to be inspected for bugs and other critters. In deep summer, corn would be shucked and its silk picked off. Elderberries had to be stripped from their stems, leaving my hands a deep purple. Nuts needed to be shelled, and what a pleasure it was to whack each one with a hammer to get the meat inside.

Advertisement

Sometimes Mum, always wearing a printed cotton housedress, would sit down on the step with me. We'd sing old songs while we worked, her soprano singing the lead with me harmonizing on the alto.

SUMMER BERRY PIE



Strawberries, black raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or elderberries are nature's gift to the pie baker. (I've never had success with red-raspberry pie, though.) If berries are on the dry or seedy side, add 1/2 cup blueberries; the color will change, but the filling will be juicier.

The pie formula is about the same for all of them. A 9-inch pastry crust; 4 or 5 cups of berries, preferably juicy; 1 cup sugar; 3 tablespoons cornstarch; 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg; a bit of fresh lemon juice if the berries are boring; a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of butter for dotting on the fruit before adding the top crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes; lower the heat to 375 degrees and continue baking for about 40 minutes, until bubbly. Cool on a rack. Do it in your sleep.

Pastry for a 9-inch double-crust or lattice pie
4 to 5 cups summer berries
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon (optional)
Lemon juice (optional)
1 tablespoon butter, in small pieces

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Clean the berries. Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl; mix well. Add the berries and lemon juice and allow to sit for 10 minutes until the berries give up some juice.

Meanwhile, roll the pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate. Transfer berry mixture to pie shell. Dot with butter. Dampen the rim of the pie with water, add the top crust and flute the edge. Place the pie on a tray (or pizza pan) to catch overflow drips, and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and continue to bake about 35 to 45 minutes or until the filling has bubbled about 7 minutes and the crust is nicely browned.

Place on a rack to cool. Best served slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Makes 1 pie, or about 6 servings.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|