Berry Pie

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Who knew something that looked like celery , but red and with poisonous leaves could create such a wonderful pie? And then, if you pair its tartness with the robust sweetness of berries you can get an even better pie! Oh, wait… everyone already knew this didn’t they. Yes. I am a little late hopping onto this Rhubarb wagon but when it comes to food there’s  no old dog in this pup (as in you can’t teach an old dog new tricks). I suppose it just took me a while to give rhubarb a try. Needless to say I love it. If you haven’t tried it I suggest doing so. If you decide to, why not try this recipe out.

An overfilled, leaky Rhubarb Berry Pie
I do love  berries. They are the category of fruit I like best for using in desserts… and often raw, on their own for breakfast. I love each separately, as each brings such a wonderful and unique flavor to the table–eaten raw each brings a unique eating experience as well.  I like blackberries and strawberries best, but blueberries are never in short supply in my kitchen either.But together, especially in a pie or trifle, they seem to work so well together. Those three are the three berries I like to combine most and sometimes raspberries when I can find them, but I don’t often go out of may to find them.
You’ll also notice my pie was a tad leaky. I like foods best this way: overfilled so they are  almost obligated to leak their delicious juices everywhere just before serving. Yes, I do have to clean my stove almost nightly because of this philosophy, but its the small treats that accompany a bursting dish like the finger taste of exposed sauce before digging into the pie that keeps me smiling in the kitchen. Pies are as easy to make as they come, but there are some things I find helpful to know in making a good pie.
We’ll start with the crust, the often overlooked aspect of a pie that often proves to be its most vital. You of course are wanting a delicious, flakey crust that compliments, and never detracts from the pie filling. To get this I suggest a butter, shortening combination for the fat (usually half and half). You’ll get the delicious from the butter and the flaky from the shortening. These should be very cold before mixing them with the flour; toss each in the freezer ten minutes before you begin. I use a food processor and think it works best, though you can also use your hands. You never want to completely mix or blend the flour into the fat. You want there to be little layers of fat pockets (butter and shortening) that melt away between the layers of flour, creating the flakiness. So mixing it to where there are still pea sized chunks of the fat in the butter is best–hence having it very cold before mixing. You can see how using a food processor (pulsing a few brief times) can achieve this quickly, especially  faster than your hands. And that can be key as you dont want the butter and shortening to melt and blend too much into the flour. With the water you’ll again want to make sure it is very cold–toss it in the freezer a few minutes before using; you’ll only want to use just enough water to make the dough cohesive.

Pie Crust Ingredients2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter (very cold)
1/2 cup shortening (very cold)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
5-9 tablespoons water (very cold)
Pie Crust Instructions
1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until well blended.
2. Add the cold shortening and pulse the processor 8 to 12 seconds until it has combined into a coarse mixture.
3. Add the cold butter and pulse 8 to 10 times for a second each until you get pea sized (or slightly larger) chunks of butter.
4. Pulsing a few more times, very briefly each time, slowly add water until the dough begins to come together. You want a fairly solid structure that is not sticky or damn at all.
5.  Roll all the dough together and divide into two balls. Roll each out into a 4 inch disk, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for an hour (in the coldest part of your fridge).
Next is the pie filling, another super simple phase. Here is where the fruit will shine, so aside from a decent amount of sugar, and a little bit of corn starch and flour, you do not need a whole lot, otherwise you’ll start affecting the flavor of of he berries to much. The only thing to prepare for filling the pie. Before pouring in the filling over the pie crust, you’ll want to sprinkle equal parts sugar and flour, or egg wash the bottom of the crust. This will help keep the crust from getting soggy or gooey from the filling. To get a golden top to your pie there are a couple things you’ll need to do. I go into detail regarding those below.
Filling Ingredients
2 cups (3-4 stalks) Rhubarb diced (rough large dices will do)
1 cup strawberries cut into large peices
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter diced

Pie Crust Topping Ingredients1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Mix all the ingredients except the 4 tablespoons diced butter in a large bowl. You’ll want to make sure the fruit is all well coated with all of the dry ingredients; You’ll also want to make sure the extract and lemon juice has a chance to get mixed in with all of the other ingredients.
2. Take one of the crust disks out of the refrigerator. On a floured surface roll it out to a size slightly larger than the baking dish. This will need to be large enough to create the bottom and sides of the crust.  Press the crust into the baking dish–I used a fairly shallow (for a pie) pie/tart ceramic baking dish.
3. Sprinkle equal parts flour and sugar (just enough to lightly cover) on the crust. This will help keep it from getting soggy from the pie filling.
4. Pour in the pie filling, making sure to spread it through the pie evenly.
5. Sprinkle the diced butter on top of the pie filling. I create a grid of evenly spaced butter mostly because i’m OCD.
6. Take out the second crust disk from the refrigerator and roll it into a disk big enough to completely cover the top of the pie. Lay it over top and crimp the edges to seal it to the bottom crust.
7. Cut a few slits in the top of the pie. This will help steam escape, which is a good think for a berry pie cooked for so long.
Now for topping the crust. To get a nice and golden crust you’ll need to so something to the top. Some people like using egg whites and water (this gives a shiny, but not often dark crust), some people just milk, or just eggs. I like to use egg and heavy cream (the same basic ingredients for great french toast, or custard, or so much more). After that a little sugar can go a long way to not only adding shine and sparkle, but a sweet touch to an already delicious crust.
8. Whisk together the egg and cream until well mixed. Use a bigger bowl then you’re going to want to initially, as this will aid in the whisking process. Use a fork or whisk.
9. Either brush the egg wash over the crust, or like I did, use a spoon to drizzle the  wash on. I used the drizzle method because I couldn’t find my brush at the time; I also think drizzling gives you more creative freedom to create a deliciously modern looking pie.
10. Sprinkle sugar on top. I suggested 1/4 cup but really it’s up to you. Be careful using more as it could create a soggy, heavy top crust.
11. Bake for the first 15 minutes at 425.
12. Reduce the temperate to 375. Bake for another 40 to 45 minutes. The filling should be bubbling. 
For me, since I used a shallower dish, I was signified with a few leaks of what is a delicious rhubarb and berry sauce.
If you’re offended by the sight of a messy pie dish, or the thought of sauce oozing onto your plate, placement or table, then please don’t just use a paper towel to clean way the leaks! Use you’re fingers and enjoy every minute of it. Think of this as a pie appetizer. Just make sure you let it cool a bit! As for the pie cooling, I am a  man who loves things hot, so I served myself a slice almost automatically. I also burnt my tongue, so maybe I should have waited. I’m sure if you let it cool a bit you might also have an easier time of enjoying the flavors. That’s what I did for my seconds, and after cooling slightly, you really do get to taste the melody of mixed berries and deliciously tart rhubarb.
If you haven’t noticed I’ve taken a liking to pies and tarts lately. Every day I feel like I’m getting better with the process, and the crust has been one I’ve felt obligated to perfect. I think the aforementioned pie crust might be darn near perfect… until I find myself adopting that baking secret… lard! So because I feel as this is a particularly pretty pie, and equally delicious, and because everybody finished it before I could get thirds, I wish to immortalize it here with a second picture.

My favorite pie yet!