Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blueberries, and Blackberries, and Apples...Oh my! 4th of July Pies!

Any holiday in my family usually means a lot of pie will be present. We’re a pie family. My mom and I have been working on getting a crust that is flaky, tender and can hold up to its filling without becoming gummy. We had a recipe for years that was the BEST crust ever, however it has recently changed somehow. It still tastes good, but it isn’t as flaky as it used to be. We experimented with using combinations of butter and vegetable shortening, water/no water, and even vodka. My mom finally found Ree Drummond’s pie dough recipe when she made her flat apple pies that has turned out to be extremely good, and surprisingly easy to work with. It’s a combo of butter, shortening, cold water and white vinegar. It’s amazing. The two greatest secrets to perfect pie dough are COLD ingredients, and minimizing how much you actually handle the dough. If your ingredients are cold, it prevents the butter from melting before it is in the oven, which is where it is supposed to create steam/air pockets, leading to flaky yummyness. And the less you actually touch/handle the dough, the better. So this 4th of July, my 2 sisters, brother/wife and I went over to my aunt’s house for a Mexican-style dinner with my Dad’s side of the family. Usually we have a few different kinds of pies to satisfy everyone’s likes. I got the day off from the bakery because we were closed for the holiday, so I got up at 8:30 and made blueberry, blackberry and apple pies. We had to be at my aunt’s around 3, so I wanted enough time for the pie dough to firm up in the fridge before I rolled it out. If you want to make this pie dough recipe, I recommend even making it a day or two in advance, leaving it in the freezer until the night before you need it, and then in the fridge overnight. It can be a pretty sticky dough, so this helps you prevent a huge stressful mess when trying to make the pie. (It can be stored in the freezer for up to a month or so; just put it in the fridge the night before you need it).

Ree Drummond’s Perfect Pie Crust:
(makes two pie crusts, enough for one pie)

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup cold unsalted butter (I used European style Plugra)
¾ cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
5 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (it burns off in the oven, leaving no taste)

Put the flour and salt in a large bowl, and stir together with a fork or a pastry cutter. Incorporate the butter and shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter

until there are no more pieces of butter larger than a pea (should be a fairly crumbly mixture, but don’t worry if you have some pieces larger than others). Ree’s recipe says it should take 3-4 minutes, but it really just depends on how you’re doing it. 

Beat the egg in a small bowl with a fork, and using a spatula or a spoon, gently mix it into the butter/flour mixture. Then add in the water and vinegar. Using your hands like small shovels, scoop the mixture from the bottom of the bowl to incorporate the dry into the wet. Stir until it is all just combined. 

Then form into a ball, cut it in half and wrap each portion in plastic wrap. Stick it in the fridge for at least an hour.

Apple Pie! (Generally for my brother, as it is his favorite…but also for the holiday, being the typical American pie!)

5 or 6 large Granny Smith apples (peeled and sliced)
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk together until everything is evenly distributed. Pour over the apples, and use your hands to mix everything together until the apples are all coated. Take out one of the pie doughs (one half), and roll it out on a well-floured surface, until it is about 1 or 2 inches beyond your pie plate’s top circumference if you set it down on top of the rolled out dough. You may need to use a large spatula to ensure that it does not stick to the board when you transfer it to the pie plate. Fold into fourths (make sure that it does NOT crease while you are folding…be very gentle!) and center it in your pie plate. Gently unfold it. Cut off any excess dough (leave about an inch). If you have any cracks or holes, you can patch them up using scraps and some warm water. Pour in the apples (and all of the juices that have gathered at the bottom of the bowl). Dot the apples with about a tablespoon of butter pinched into small pieces (this gives the apples a little more oomph for cooking/develops the juices more). Then roll out your other pie dough the same way as the first. When you’ve folded it into fourths, cut 3 slits on each side towards the middle of the crust to allow the pie to breath in the oven. Place on top of the apples, centered so that when you unfold the dough, the cuts you made are right in the middle. Cut off anything beyond an inch on the edges. Then roll the two crusts together (the top one over the bottom) with your fingers as you go around pinching the edges into a scallop shape. Sprinkle the top with sugar. Cover the crust edges with foil or a pie crust cover, and bake for about 40 minutes. Keep your eye on the crust, as it is a high oven temp and can burn the crust if you’re not careful. If the edges aren’t getting browned enough, feel free to remove the cover for 10-15 minutes of the ending baking time. (This crust recipe does not typically brown as much as others, so it will be on the lighter side).

Blueberry Pie! (Generally for my Dad because he doesn’t like blackberries…too many seeds)

6 cups fresh or frozen berries (if frozen, thaw and then drain them beforehand)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

Pour flour and sugar over the berries and mix with your hands. Drizzle over lemon juice, and mix again. Then roll out your pie dough the same way as with the apple pie. Again, be sure to pour all the juices accumulated at the bottom of the bowl with the berries into the pie dish. Dot with the berries with the tablespoon of butter. 

Roll out the top dough, cut the slits so that the berries can breath, and crimp the two layers together once again. (I cut out a little star with a cookie cutter out of the scraps just for fun).

Sprinkle with sugar, cover the edges of the crust with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes as well. Watch the pie again. Depending on how much you want the crust to brown, it could be done before or after the 40 minutes. If the berries begin to bubble in the middle, chances are it is done. But you can keep it in there until you get a crust color you like.

Blackberry Pie! (For my sister Caroline)

6 cups fresh or frozen berries (again if frozen, thaw and then drain them)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

Same set up as the blueberry, just with blackberries. For mine, I did a lattice top by rolling out the top dough into a rectangle shape, and cutting ¾ inch strips out. It was 5 strips across each way, so 10 total. If you’re not up for dealing with the extra trouble, just do the regular top the same way as the other two pies. (I just wanted to practice the technique...still needs a bit of work). I will warn you, this pie dough gets soft really quickly, so if you’re going to do the lattice, I recommend sticking the dough in the freezer for a few minutes beforehand so it’s easier to work with. It looks really nice when you can do a pretty lattice, but honestly just a classic top gives you more yummy crust in each bite!

So that’s the process of making 3 yummy and fairly easy summer-y pies! You can do combinations of berries etc. for the filling. Mix it up! I think my next pie will be a blueberry nectarine galette! Yay for summer fruits.


  1. Hi Sophie! I saw you posted your blog the other day on fb and i was checking it out; congrats, it is really awesome!!! I'm so happy because the other day I was looking for a blueberry pie recipe but I wasn't sure whether the ones I found online were good enough... So I'm definitely trying yours! Everything looks so yummy here :D!
    I remember so much how great the brownies your mommy baked were! I would love if you write an entry about brownies!

    xxx from Spain!

  2. Thank you Estela! :) I'm glad you like the blog! I'm just trying it out for the summer, seeing how it goes. I'll definitely look into a brownie recipe to put on here when I get a chance! I hope everything is going well with you! Let me know how the blueberry pie turns out!