Mother’s Day is next month, and I was trying to come up with a motherly theme for a pie crust. If my daughter was making this for me, she’d probably put a wine glass on the crust…but I went with a more traditional garden theme. Figured it was a little more classy.
Playing with dough is my favorite thing to do. The pie crust recipe I use is SO forgiving. You can re-roll it, form little shapes with your fingers, let it stand at room temperature (within reason), and abuse it thoroughly….and it stays flaky. Good stuff!
I will admit that the details on the crust took me a while, so the crust got a little too warm. If I’d thought to chill the pie for a little bit before baking it, the pretty fluted edges would probably have stayed perky, instead of bailing on me. Meh.
If you’d like a similar idea that is less work, here’s a pie I made with just a trellis on it. I made little flowers using gum paste cutters, but you could create them with a sharp knife too.
Use whatever combination of berries you have, fresh or frozen. (Don’t use frozen berries packed in juice or sauce, though!) I had lots of frozen raspberries, maybe a cup of sliced strawberries, and a two cups of frozen blueberries. The combination of flavors is amazing!
I like to use instant tapioca as a thickener. It’s clear, tasteless, and never fails me. I grind mine in a clean coffee grinder to avoid chewy spots in the pie. The recipe below has enough dough for a normal two-crust pie. If you plan on adding decorations, double the recipe. (Any extra can be baked and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar…mmmmmm.) I often double the recipe anyhow, since I like a fairly thick crust and find it a lot more manageable than paper-thin pastry. I’m also fairly casual about discarding decorations that don’t please me, so a generous amount of dough is a good thing in my kitchen.
Ready to make some pie? I’ll show you how to make a Triple Berry Pie, then add photos of the decorations, if you’re interested.
|Triple Berry Pie
- 5 cups mixed berries - fresh or frozen (I used raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup instant tapioca, ground finely if possible
- PIE CRUST:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chilled shortening
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vodka (or you may use vinegar)
- Heat oven to 400 F
- In a large bowl, combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and tapioca. Stir well and allow mixture to sit while you work on the crust. This will give the tapioca time to soften.
- In large bowl, combine flour and salt. Work in shortening with fingers or a pastry blender until there are no large lumps. (Anything the size of a pea or smaller is fine.)
- Combine milk and vodka and pour into flour mixture all at once.
- Toss the mixture with fork or fingers until it holds together.
- Divide into two pieces, with one piece a little bit larger than the other.
- Put the larger ball of dough on a floured piece of parchment and flatten into a disk. Dust with flour and lay a second piece of parchment over the dough. Roll out until large enough to cut a circle that is at least 1 inch larger than your pie pan. Remove top parchment and cut dough into circle.
- Slide a flat baking sheet under the bottom parchment. Put your pie pan upside down in the center of the dough circle. With one hand under the baking sheet and one hand on the pie pan, flip both over. Remove baking sheet and carefully peel back parchment. Ease dough into the pan.
- Fill the pie crust with filling.
- Roll out the smaller piece and cut a circle a little bigger than the pie pan. Gently roll onto a rolling pin and lay over the filling. Press the edges together, fold them under, and flute the edges.
- Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then - without opening the oven door - turn the temperature down to 350 F. Bake for additional 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
- Move pie to a rack and allow it to cool. If served warm, it will be a little runny. If cooled (or chilled) it will hold its shape when cut.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
If you’re in the mood to play with pie crust, here are a few photos of the construction of the garden crust. Press each piece of dough down lightly as you work. You don’t need liquid – they’ll pretty much stay put. Well, except for the fence rails. I kept bumping the darn things.
Also, don’t get too close to the edge. In retrospect, I should have given myself a little more space for fluting the edge of the pie.
Set your top crust on a generously floured baking sheet or piece of parchment. You will need to slide it off onto the pie when it’s finished. If it gets too soft and warm and won’t slide, pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes and try again, or if you’re coordinated, slip your hands underneath the crust and move it quickly.
I added a bird, made by pressing and shaping the dough like clay. Mine may look more like a small turkey…hopefully you have more artistic skills!
A toothpick is your friend. It will make a nice crease in the leaves, and help place them.
At this point, I stopped taking photos while I struggled with the teeny tiny roses. I finally just took narrow strips of thin dough about an inch long and rolled them up. Good enough!
I know it will hurt to actually take a knife and STAB your masterpiece, but remember: there’s no crying in pie art! It’s just a beginning – there will be many more dough canvases in your future. Think of all the scenic pies you can make for holidays throughout the year.
Have fun with this!