Sunday, June 3, 2012

Apple/Blackberry Pie

A good fruit pie is surprisingly hard to make. It's pretty easy to make an ok fruit pie, and I've done that plenty of times.  I've made dozens of pies over the years and this was the first one I felt I really got right, so you guys are in for a treat.    The two main elements to the fruit pie, the crust and the filling, have to be working in perfect concert for your pie to turn out beautifully.  Pie crust should be buttery and flaky, should turn a nice golden brown on the top and the bottom crust, and should be strong enough to hold up the fruit filling without turning into mush. The fruit filling should syrupy without being cloudy or starchy, sweet without being saccharine or overwhelming the flavor of the fruit. 

Apple Blackberry Pie cooling in the window
I can't tell you the number of times I gave up and just bought the pre-made pie crust, or how many times my fruit filling came out watery, lumpy, and cloudy.    I've tried multiple crust and filling recipes and let me tell you the secret.  For the crust, it is ice water.  For the filling it is tapioca.  Trust me.  Ready?  

This pie crust recipe I borrowed from Smitten Kitchen, she wrote two very thorough articles on pie-crust making that I enjoyed.  Seems she has gone through many of the same pie crust making trials (butter or shortening?  vodka?) as I did and finally settled on an excellent recipe. 

Pie Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold  (you can use salted butter if that is all you have, just omit the salt in the recipe)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup ice water

  • First, fill a 1 cup measuring cup with water and ice, and set it aside.
  • Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  • Cut your COLD butter into cubes and being working them into the dough with either your pastry blender, a fork or your hands.  Be careful using your hands though, because you want the butter to stay COLD!  Stop mixing when you still have pea sized chunks of butter in your dough.  Visible butter equals flakiness in your crust.  DO NOT OVER MIX!  Do not use your blender or food processor for this!
  • Begin drizzling in half a cup of the ice water (not the ice cubes) and mixing it all together with a silicone spatula (or if you are me with your hands again...I do everything with my hands)  You may need up to 1/4 cup more water.  I found that 1/2 cup was about perfect for me.  You want the dough to be glued together, but once it forms a cohesive ball don't add more water.  It should be a very firm dough. 
  • Divide your dough into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or two at least (I'm sure you've noticed by now that keeping the dough COLD is key). 
Apple/Blackberry a la mode
I adapted this filling recipe from Alton Brown's Super Apple Pie Recipe.  I've tried his pie crust recipe, and while it is a mean crust I actually like Smitten Kitchen's simpler version better, and got better results with it.   But man, his filling recipe is the tops. 


  • 5-6 large apples, mixed varieties. I live in Washington so I just pick out whatever is seasonally available.  You should have a variety of crisp, tart apples and softer sweeter apples.  This will give your pie a good texture because some of the apples will stay firmer than others in the baking process.   Normally an apple pie takes about 6 apples.  In this pie I used 5 apples and a small flat of blackberries, which is what gave the filling that awesome red color. 
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour (I used Kraft Minute Tapioca mix and it worked fine)
  • 2 tablespoons apple jelly (the pectin in this helps thicken the filling, you could just as easily use blackberry jelly or another flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider (optional, I omitted this because I drank all my cider before I got to this step...)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Peel and slice the apples.  I like to use one of those corer/slicer things to make sure all my slices are a uniform size.  Making sure all your apple chunks are similarly sized will ensure that they cook evenly.   Toss the sliced apples with 1/4 cup of sugar and place in a colander over a bowl to drain.  Let them sit there for about an hour (this is a good step to take care of while you are refrigerating your dough)
  • Take the drained liquid from the apples and reduce it in a saucepan to about 2 tablespoons.  
  • Toss the apple chunks together with the syrup reduction, remaining sugar, tapioca, jelly, cider, lime juice and salt. 
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  For the first 30 minutes, cook your pie on the bottom rack of the oven.  This will ensure that your bottom crust gets nicely browned.  For the remaining 20 minutes cook your pie on the middle rack.  The pie will probably get a little ooozy, so place a lined cookie sheet underneath to catch drips.  After the pie has baked allow it to cool for 4 hours.  DO NOT SLICE IT BEFORE THEN!  You will want to, it will be hard, but trust me.  It's worth it to let your pie cool thoroughly and give it time to set up, so it doesn't run everywhere the first time you cut into it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment