Recipe road test: Classic Blackberry Pie from "Pie Camp"

Seira Wilson on September 09, 2020
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Recipe road test: Classic Blackberry Pie from Pie Camp

I think I've dog-eared pretty much every page in my early copy of Kate McDermott's upcoming cookbook, Pie Camp: The Skills You Need to Make Any Pie You Want. There are so many recipes I want to try, and so many skills I want to learn or improve on. Pie Camp is truly the shelf staple for anyone who loves pie, whether you're a beginner needing to learn it all or a pastry whiz looking for new variations and creative ideas to try.

First off, McDermott is an excellent teacher. Her instructions are clear, the photographs are beautiful yet still look achievable, and she has a relaxed style that takes the stress out of baking, even if it's all new to you.

The first (of many) recipes I decided to make from Pie Camp was the Classic Blackberry Pie, but using the substitution option. What can I say? I had some beautiful blueberries and in the recipe intro McDermott says if you don't have blackberries you can use raspberries, blueberries, even elderberrries (!). Sometimes the best recipes are the ones that let you use what you've got. 

I also wanted to try one of the special crusts from the Pie Dough section, and the Cream Cheese Pie Dough was calling my name.  I used the food processor method and the crust was fantastic. Almost like adding a hint of cheesecake taste to each bite, and very flaky—this might be my favorite crust ever. I still need to spend some time with Pie Camp's sections on lattice tops and crimping, but here's how my Classic (Blueberry) Pie turned out:

PieCamp_MyPie.jpg

While you'll have to wait just a little bit longer for Pie Camp—it releases on October 6 (in time for all the pies you'll want to make for Thanksgiving!)— the author and publisher agreed to let us share an excerpt from the cookbook now, so here are the recipes for both Classic Blackberry Pie and Cream Cheese Pie Dough.

PieCamp_ClassicBlackberryPie_400H.jpg

Classic Blackberry Pie
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) shallow pie

One of my favorite pies to make, bake, and share is blackberry. Use the sweetest berries and then season them with a little nutmeg, a squeeze of lemon, and a little orange liqueur or some orange zest. A mix of berries, totaling 4 cups, can be used, too. No blackberries? Feel free to substitute marionberries, raspberries, blueberries, and even elderberries.

1 recipe Roll-Out Dough
4 cups (about 1¼ lbs, 480 g) blackberries
1/3 cup (130 g) granulated sugar
A small grating of nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons flour or 2 tablespoons tapioca (quick-cooking or tapioca flour)
1 tablespoon orange liqueur or zest of ½ orange
2 teaspoons (9 g) butter, chopped into little pieces
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated or demerara sugar, for sprinkling on top of the pie

EGG WASH
1 egg white plus 2 teaspoons water, fork beaten

1.  Make the pie dough and chill in the fridge while you make the filling.

2.  Put the blackberries, sugar, nutmeg, salt, lemon, flour, and liqueur in a big bowl and mix lightly until the fruit is well coated.

3.  Roll out half the dough and place in the pie pan.

4.  Pour the filling into the pan and dot with butter.

5.  Roll out the remaining dough, lay it over the fruit, and cut five or six vents on top, or make a lattice top. Trim the excess dough from the edges and crimp.

6.  Cover the pie and chill in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

7.  Bake for 20 minutes.

8.  Turn down the oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake for 20 more minutes.

9.  Open the oven, carefully remove the pie, set it on a heat-safe surface, and close the oven to keep the heat inside. Quickly brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Return the pie to the oven and continue baking at 375°F (190°C) for an additional 20 minutes, or until the pie is done.

10.  Remove the pie from the oven and cool for at least an hour so it can set up before eating.

*Please note that in the Classic Blackberry Pie recipe you'll find in Pie Camp, the instructions include references to pictorial guides for making a beautiful lattice top and how to crimp, flute, and edge the crust. —SW

Cream Cheese Pie Dough
Makes two dough discs; halve amounts for one dough disc.

An easy-to-make dough for pies of all sizes, and especially nice for crostatas, dumplings, and hand pies. If you are using gluten-free flour, see the note below.

2 cups (290 g) all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour mix (see Note)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks; 180 g) butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup (120 g) cream cheese, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (Bragg's or another artisan apple cider vinegar)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water

TO MAKE BY HAND

1. In a large bowl, place the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder and mix together with a fork, whisk, or clean fingers.

2. Add the butter and cream cheese and, with clean hands, quickly smoosh the mixture together until it looks like coarse meal with some small peas in it. You can also use a pastry blender or a mezzaluna, chopping up and down.

3. Sprinkle the apple cider vinegar and water over the mixture and mix together with a fork or your fingers.

4. Lightly squeeze and press the dough until it all holds together. Form into a ball or rectangle.

5. Keep the dough whole or divide it in half, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for about an hour.

TO MAKE IN A FOOD PROCESSOR

1.  In the bowl of a food processor fit with the metal blade, place the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Pulse two or three times to combine.

2. Add the butter and cream cheese, and pulse 10 to 15 times until it looks like a coarse meal.

3. Add the vinegar and water, and pulse five more times.

4. Turn the dough into a medium bowl and form into a disc with your hands. Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for an hour before rolling.

NOTE: There are no gluten strands in dough made with gluten-free flour, so as soon as the fats chill back up, the dough can be rolled out. Gluten-free dough tends to get firm quickly when in the fridge overnight or even after a few hours. Set it out on the counter until it has warmed up to a pliable temperature for rolling

Reprinted from Pie Camp: The Skills You Need to Make Any Pie You Want by Kate McDermott. Copyright (c) 2020 by Kate McDermott. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company.



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