My love of tart food hails back to my very youthful days. My mom would set up a miniature table in the kitchen for me and my older brother, then she would serve us a plate of freshly cut lemon wedges along with a plate full of sugar for dipping the wedges into (yum). I relished those days, for I loved the combo of tartness and sweetness. My brother and I would make a game to see who could suck on the lemons without making those pucker-lipped faces that tartness engenders.
So, all things tart tickle my palate–both literally and figuratively. That includes not only citrus fruits but also rhubarb, green apples, berries… If it’s tart, it’s got hold of my heart. Sorry, couldn’t resist that silly little rhyme.
Which finally brings me to the recipe for this post: Triple Berry Pie. Whenever I eat at a pie restaurant, like Marie Calendar’s, I always order the mixed berry pie. Love it, love it, love it. The melding of sweet berries and tart undertones and buttery flaky pie crust…mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ! ! ! Makes me drool.
Last summer, I saved a couple of berry pie recipes. However, with my shaky history of pie making combined with the high prices of berries here in Southern California, I kept putting off attempting any of them. Finally, though, I spotted a great sale on berries. It was time to venture into triple berry pie territory.
Happy to report that I whipped up my best-looking and best-tasting pie to date—yippee!!
Now, I combined a couple of recipes for this one. I loved the crumble topping from The Italian Dish–and she has a super easy pie crust–so I used both of those. The crumble topping turns this recipe into a combo pie and berry crisp. The oats in the crumble give an extra depth and slightly nutty flavor as well as an additional texture to play with your palate.
The pie filling I followed travels back to the folks at America’s Test Kitchen, who produce the fabulous magazine Cooks Illustrated along with numerous cookbooks. Anyhow, they discovered that a grated green apple both enhances the flavor of the pie as well as helps maintain the stability of the filling, so I tried it. Fantastic results. You can’t taste the apple in there, but I love that the filling holds its shape. You MUST WAIT a few hours—like at least 4—for the filling to set, though. Any sooner and you will have runny berries all over your plate (I know, for I was impatient).
Since I made this pie just for the heck of it and I could have eaten every last crumb but my waistline really, really doesn’t need that, I thought I would try slicing it up and freezing the slices. Freezing works beautifully. That means I can have slices of berry pie at a moment’s notice…well, with a bit of defrosting. But it works! Just wrap each slice in plastic wrap, place them in a baggie, and freeze.
And finally, this recipe worked out so well that I just might splurge once in a while on pricey Southern California berries to make more of this delectable pie.
Triple Berry Pie with Crumble Topping
(makes one 9-inch deep dish pie)
One Minute Pie Dough from the blog The Italian Dish (food processor required)
Makes dough for one single pie crust; can easily be doubled for a two-crust pie
- 1 3/4 cups flour (about 9 ounces)
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tbsp.), cut into slices
- 1/2 tsp. salt (omit salt if using salted butter)
- 1/4 cup ice water (approximately)
- 2 cups fresh raspberries (each cup is about a 6-ounce container of berries from the market)
- 2 cups fresh blackberries
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
- zest of one lemon
- 2 tsp. juice from one lemon
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca, ground
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- pinch table salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 cup butter, cut into slices
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- Place flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Pulse.
- Add about half of the butter. Pulse.
- Add the remaining butter. Pulse until mixture turns into coarse crumbs.
- Through the feed tube, slowly add the ice water and pulse until the dough gathers into a ball. It if doesn’t form a ball after a few seconds, add a few more drops of ice water until it does.
- Take the dough and flatten it into a disc and place it on a sheet of floured plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- When dough has chilled, roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap (a little trick that will make pie dough rolling much easier!) until it is a little larger than your pie dish. Transfer the flattened dough to the pie dish by gently rolling up the sheet of dough around the rolling pin and transferring the rolling pin to the pie plate and unrolling the dough. Gently press the dough down into the pie plate. Crimp the edges decoratively, either by pressing with the tines of a fork or by pinching the dough to make crinkles. Dock the bottom of the dough with a fork (that means poke the dough with holes) to minimize air bubbles when baking.
- Line the pie plate with a sheet of tin foil. Either place pie weights or dried beans on the foil. First, this will also minimize air bubbles. Second, be aware that you will not be able to cook these beans. I keep my “pie” beans in a container labeled pie “weights.”
- Bake for 15 minutes (this is called “blind bake,” a process which partially cooks the dough, thereby preventing it from becoming soggy when the filling is added).
- Take the pie crust out of the oven and carefully remove the sheet of foil with the pie weights. Place the pie crust back in the oven for another 15 minutes. Check the pie dough, and if you see any large bubbles forming, spear them with a skewer.
- Remove crust from oven and add filling.
- Place 1 cup of raspberries, 1 cup blackberries, and 1 cup blueberries in a medium saucepan; set over medium heat. Using a potato masher, mash berries to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of the berries have broken down and the mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Let cook slightly.
- Place grated apple in a clean kitchen towel and wring dry.
- Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups of uncooked berries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine.
- Transfer mixture to the blind-baked pie crust.
- For the crumble topping, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the filling.
- Place a pie ring shield over the crust (or you can use strips of foil around the edges of the crust). This will prevent over-browning while the pie bakes.
- Place pie on an aluminum-foil covered baking sheet to catch any bubbling over of the filling (this helps prevent oven messes). Bake for about 1 hour, until crumble topping is golden brown.
- Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for about 4 hours in order for filling to properly set.
- When adequately cooled, cut into wedges and serve as is or with ice cream or whipped cream.
Pie freezes well. Just wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then either place in Ziploc bag or wrap foil over the plastic wrap. When ready to eat, thaw in refrigerator or on counter, and microwave if you want to eat it warm.
SOURCES: adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen and The Italian Dish