Fresh Blackberry Pie: The Best Pie, Ever, In the History Of Pie

I picked up some gorgeous triple crown blackberries in town the other day, and (after we ate a bunch of them fresh) I knew I had to make this pie.  First off:  Westside Renaissance Market, the little neighborhood grocery where I picked up these berries, is the best local store I’ve been to in ages.  It has the highest quality, freshest local products, sourced from small family farms that put so much care and love into their work. It’s absolutely on par with places like Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, but un-like Bi-Rite Market, it’s quiet and has plenty of parking.  If you live in Mendocino county and haven’t been there, you should go.  They’ve got everything from cold-brew coffee to nectarine cream pies to fresh breads made with freshly milled local flours.   Plus they have these crazy good blackberries right now.  (They are literally the best blackberries I’ve ever tasted in my life.)

This pie is what I meant to talk about, though.
This isn’t your average pie.  Only some of the blackberries are cooked, and only with a little bit of sugar, and then you fold in a bunch of fresh blackberries, so you end up with this beautiful finished filling that tastes juicy and just sweet enough. Serve the pie chilled, and it’s the perfect dessert for a hot summer night.

Fresh Blackberry Pie, adapted from Vegetarian Pleasures, by Jeanne Lemlin.  My mom made this pie all the time when we were little.  I’ve added even more blackberries than the original recipe calls for, since there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.

Cook Time: 25 minutes or so, plus time to cool

Ingredients:

  • 1 9″ pie crust
  • 5 c . blackberries
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 2 1/2 tbs. cornstarch
  • 3/4 c. sugar

To start, you’ll need to blind bake a 9″ pie crust until it’s golden brown and fully cooked.  (Using whatever recipe you like, or, if you’re like me, which is really busy, you can cave and use a store bought one from the freezer section.  The organic ones were only $2.50 each here, and somehow the pre-made crust made the difference between having pie and not having pie.  Summer is crazy busy, don’t judge me).

While the crust is in the oven, make the filling: Stir together the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.  In a medium-sized pot, combine 2 c. blackberries with the water, nutmeg, lemon zest and the sugar/cornstarch mixture.  Cook on high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture has visibly thickened. Stir often to make sure the cornstarch and sugar dissolve and that the blackberries don’t stick.  Remove from the heat, and fold in the remaining three cups of raw blackberries.

Pour the blackberry filling into the cooked crust.  Chill before serving.  (I put it in the freezer for awhile to make sure it’s really cold – something about cold, sweet blackberries is wonderful for a hot weather.)

Optional: Serve topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, ice cream, etc.

 

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Triple Citrus Glazed Butter Cake

citrus cake with our peach-raspberry jam

For the past week or so, we’ve had fantastic magical California paradise weather, and I’ve been working in the gardens almost all day long.   Late winter veggie starts went in the ground, and one last batch of garlic.  I also planted seeds for calendula, love-in-a-mist, bells of ireland, and poppies, along with the dahlia tubers I picked up at the store the other day.  This fantastic triple citrus butter cake is all that sunshine and good weather on a plate, no matter where you live! The flavor is bright and refreshing, and it’s lighter than all these 15 layer chocolate death cakes that are floating around with Valentine’s Day coming up so soon.  Those are awesome, but this the kind of cake that you can vaguely rationalize eating for breakfast, and those are important cakes to have in your life.

 

fresh eggs make better baked goods!

This recipe is an adaptation of the Lemon-Glazed Butter Cake recipe in the April 2009 issue of Gourmet. I’ve substituted skim milk and added some new citrus- I hope you like it!

Triple-Citrus Butter Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (or whatever milk  you have in your fridge is fine)
  • 1/2 tbs. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tbs. tangelo zest
  • 1/2 tsp. clementine zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut extract (I was out of vanilla, you could use that too)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs (the original recipe suggests bringing the eggs to room temperature, but you could also just walk to the chicken coop and get three fresh ones that never were in the fridge at all)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh citrus juice (combine 1/8 c. lemon, 1/8 c. tangelo, and eat the clementine. Or a different combination, it doesn’t matter.)
  • Optional: top with confectioners sugar and jam (I used Peach-Raspberry, but any fruit would be fine).  Whipped Cream would be good, but we didn’t have any when I made it.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter and flour an 8″ round cake pan, which I don’t own, so I used a glass dish…
  2. 2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, citrus zest, and hazelnut extract.
  3. 3. If you have an electric mixer, now’s the time to get it out: Cream together the sugar and softened butter until it’s fluffy and fully incorporated (about 2 min.)  Next, add in the eggs (one at a time, and mix well in between each egg).
  4. 4. Turn the mixer on low, and mix in the flour in batches, alternating with the milk mixture. (Make sure not to over mix the batter).   Pour the finished batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles, and put it in the oven.
  5. 5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the cake comes out clean.  When the cake is out of the oven and cooling, whisk together the confectioners sugar and citrus juice until it’s completely smooth.  Remove the cake from the pan and put it on a cooling rack if you have one(I don’t have one of those either, you can tell I’m totally not a baker…. I put mine on a big plate with paper towel). Brush the cake with the glaze and let it cool the rest of the way.
  6. 6. Eat the cake! (If you’re thinking about cake-dinner menu pairings, we had fried chicken, braised kale from the garden cooked with our home-cured bacon, and mashed potatoes with country gravy, and the refreshing citrus flavor went absolutely wonderfully with all that).