This pie made my niece cry. Not with joy or gratitude. I think it was disgust.
She’s three. I didn’t take it personally. (Well, maybe just a smidge.) You see there’s a little secret to a neat, sliceable berry pie. Once it comes out of the oven it has to sit and wait for hours and hours. Too many hours. It must remain untouched for way too long, torturing all that pass with its sweet, buttery, berry smells, so that it can relax, cool down, and firm up. Berry pie needs a little time to meditate before it can really shine. Sure, you can cut into it an hour or two after baking (which I did because a certain little peanut kept asking, “Auntie Sam, is the pie ready?”) but then you’ll be greeted with a molten river of sweet juice, gobs of fruit, and an empty piecrust. It will be absolutely delectable but not all that pretty. And if you’re a cute but fussy kiddo you might start crying, “I don’t want jam with my ice cream!!” because you have yet to realize that the combo of hot, runny berries and cold, creamy vanilla ice cream may look a little weird but join together to form something truly stellar.
So what was in this pie, you ask? Everything I could find in my mom-in-law’s freezer. You see, when the mood for pie strikes it’s hard to ignore. But, it was far too early for anything good and summery. Thankfully, Deborah had the good sense to freeze a bunch of fruit at its peak last summer. I found some wild Maine blueberries, cute little raspberries, and bright red strawberries. The fact the fruit had been frozen may have also contributed to the runny texture. Ah well.
My sweet niece had her ice cream with chocolate sauce but the rest of us devoured the soupy mess with joy, letting it drip off our plates and splatter our tee shirts. At the end of the night someone very responsible set the leftover pie on the counter top propped up on its side. Tomorrow, after the juice has run back into its pastry home and settled in we’ll indulge in a much more civilized slice for breakfast.
Jumbleberry Jam Pie
Serves 8 to 10
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4-6 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
8 cups frozen berries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar (I’m partial to using a little less sugar so the tart fruit can shine – but you could go up a touch depending on your taste)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
sugar for sprinkling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1. Make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some bigger pieces of butter (the size of peas and even a little bigger are OK.) Add 4 tablespoons water and pulse just until the crumbs begin to come together. Add a little more water to make the dough sticky enough to press together.
2. Turn the mixture out onto a big sheet of plastic wrap and press it into one mass. Divide the dough so you have two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten the dough into two discs and wrap them separately. Chill discs for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 375°. Roll the larger disc of pastry out to a 12-inch circle. Carefully transfer dough to a 9½- inch glass pie plate, ease it into the bottom and sides and trim off access dough leaving a ½-inch overhang to work with. Roll out the remaining disc into another 12-inch circle then cut it into 1/2-inch strips. Pop the pie plate and strips of dough in the fridge to chill if they start to get too soft.
2 Make the filling: In a large bowl, gently combine berries, sugar, and cornstarch. Transfer mixture into the prepared pastry shell. Lay 5-8 strips across the top of the pie. Fold back every other strip and then lay a horizontal strip across the center. Unfold the folded strips and then fold back remaining strips. Lay down another horizontal strip and then unfold the folded strips. Repeat these steps to create the lattice top. I know it sounds confusing. It’s simple to make the lattice once you get into it. (Here is a good how-to from Fine Cooking.) Trim the edges and crimp them.
3. Whisk the egg yolk with a splash of water and brush the top of the pie with a thin layer. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Sprinkle the butter cubes in the holes of the lattice top. Bake pie on a rimmed baking sheet until crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling covering the edges with foil if they brown too quickly, about 1 ½ hours. Let pie cool on a wire rack for as long as you can stand it.