Friday, April 10, 2009

Summer Berries

I volunteered to bring a dish to the big ol' family dinner this Easter, and was subsequently re-volunteered to make pie. 

Although making pie is something that I can admittedly do blindfolded, I am not so good at capturing the various likes and preferences of a wide variety of people, much less a group of eight family members in a mere two pies.

So, to deliver a pie selection that will hopefully have the whole family satisfied and content after the belly-stretching meal tomorrow evening, I decided on Saskatoon pie and Lemon Meringue Pie with a 'twist' in the crust!

Let's get on with the Saskatoons shall we!

Saskatoon Pie

Now, I must pre-empt this with a disappointing note.... I am one of those people, who, once entrusted with a secret, does not break her word.  In this case, the secret is all in the crust, a family recipe passed down from mother to daughter, and mother to daughter and so on.  I am in no way, shape or form going to be the one bad seed who disrupts this familial tradition of baking magic, so, on a slightly bashful note, you will be left to improvise a crust recipe without my help...and I am sorry about that.

You will need, 
  • 1 9" pie crust, top and bottom of course, unless you are a fan of open-faced pie( store bought is fine but do try and find a from-scratch recipe that blows your mind and can be tweaked for your own... it is much, much better this way.
  • 4 cups of saskatoon berries (fresh are best, frozen are fine)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tblsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice, yes, fresh makes a difference
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar (this is to taste of course, some like their pie tart, others sweet, if you are making it, you get to be the judge)
  • 3 tblsp. all purpose flour
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Prepare the pie crust and line a 9" pie plate with the bottom layer of the pie crust. Set the top to the side for now in a covered container, or wrapped in plastic to keep it moist.

In medium sauce-pan or pot, combine the berries and the water. Bring the mixture to a gentle book and reduce to a simmer for ten minutes.  

Now, although I am not usually one to pre-cook my fruit before stuffing it between two layers of crust, starting these saskatoons in a hot, steamy bath gives them a soft texture and also helps to remove any bitterness they might have...

Meanwhile, combine the flour and the sugar in a small bowl and set aside for the moment.

After ten minutes, add the lemon juice to the simmering berries and mix well being careful not to mix too vigorously, you might squish the berries and they must be left whole so that all the squishing can go on in your mouth.

Once the lemon has mingled with the berries, add the flour/sugar mixture to the berry pot mix thoroughly without smashing all those beautiful little jewel toned fruits.  Remove from the heat. 

Once all the flavors have married, gently and carefully pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pie pan.  Top the pie with the other crust,(making sure that the top crust has adequate ventilation for all the fruity steam) seal the crusts together and crimp the edges or flute the edges as you like.

Note 1: I usually take one of two routes for pie ventilation.  While the pie is rolled out on a lightly floured surface, prick the crust in a routine pattern with the tip of a sharp, thin knife.  Or, for a more decorative vent, use a seasonal cookie-cutter to make a shaped vent in the center of the pie crust.  

Note 2:  To keep oven messes and overall clean-up to a minimum, I line a medium baking sheet with tin-foil, this lined sheet will sit under the pie while baking.  This assures me that any spill-over will be caught on the baking sheet instead of the oven bottom, and the tin-foil keeps spills from making a mess of the baking sheet. Easy clean-up!

Pop the pie onto the baking sheet and slide the sheet into the middle of the oven.  Bake the pie at 425 degrees F. for an initial 15 minutes. At that point, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and continue baking for an additional 35 - 45 minutes, or until the pie is pleasantly golden brown and piping hot in the middle.  

Remove the pie from the oven and immediately place the pie on a cooling rack.  

This treat can be served fully chilled, room temperature, or still slightly warm from the oven.  The residual heat from the pie helps to melt a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream into a velvety pool that no-one will complain about!

Enjoy and Happy Easter!


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