Anybody can make a perfect pie. But I like repairing ones that are not. A holdover from my earlier life as a family therapist, I suppose. Give me a pie whose baker’s humanity hangs out any day. I’ll take the messy kitchen, the day’s reading materials abandoned on the couch, the wet socks drying on the floor before the fire.
Give me the lived-in life.
Speaking of which, a couple days ago, I was interviewed for a magazine story (more on that later), and so I thought I’d make a pie to be photographed (instead of me!). It’s a winter article, so I figured I’d make a pie from frozen fruits I had collected from my yard/garden this summer. Black and red raspberries and rhubarb.
Beautiful, yes? Frozen fruit gives off lots of juice when thawed, so to the 1/2 cup of fruit liquids, I added a couple handfuls of dried Montmorrency cherries (Trader Joe’s).
I heated the berries and juice til just warm and let them sit while I rolled out the crust. Then I tossed with the thawed fruit and added the sugar/tapioca flour mixture. Since you always, always, always top a red pie with lattice …
You can’t see it in the photo, but the red innards are already leaking out of the unbaked crust. BAD sign. Bad, bad, bad.
Out comes the pie; a bubbled-over garbled sweet-smelling mess. Too dark and way too messy. I cleaned the big drips off the yellow pyrex pie plate, but there’s no fixing too brown, short of photoshopping. And forget about the big fat messy blobs of filling all over the funky looking crust. Kim would arrive for the interview in two hours, no time to bake another pie. So, how about emergency thirded breads. Made from local rye, cornmeal, turkey red wheat flour, and sorghum syrup, they’re just too good. A Colonial-era bread that I steam in wide-mouth pint jars (perfect for camping!), they fortunately turned out well.
Only now when I look at the pie, it looks just dandy. It looks like home, and it tasted like a summer evening picnic with old friends by lamplight with the peepers chirping loudly in the distance. This was a perfect pie.
A lived-in pie.
(PS … men loved bubbled-over fruit pies. I know this because I am a professional therapist turned pie-apist. And because I am married to a man who loves pie, and I am friends with a gazillion men who love pie. And because I wrote about why men love pie in my pie book. Just in case you are wanting to impress a man, try making this pie.)
Frozen bubbled-over summer fruit pie for a 9 (or 10) inch shallow pie plate
Serves 8 women or 2 men
3 cups black raspberries (or blackberries)
1 cup rhubarb
2 cups red raspberries
3/4 cup dried sour cherries
3/4 cup sugar (I use 1/2 cup, but it’s really tart) *see note below
3 Tbs. tapioca flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
Zest of a lemon
Top and bottom of a HOME-MADE crust (oh puhleeze make your crust, please please please)
Preheat oven to 425º Thaw 6 cups frozen fruit in a colander. Collect the juice in a saucepan and add to it the dried sour cherries. Heat to just warm so that the cherries absorb some of the liquid. (You should have about 1/2 cup of juices.) Roll out a top and bottom pie crust. Chill the crust. Now combine sugar and tapioca flour and toss with the thawed fruit, the cherry/juice mixture, and the lemon zest. Place in unbaked bottom crust, top with lattice crust. Place in the bottom third of electric oven or bottom shelf of gas oven and bake at 425º for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375º and bake until bubbled over and brown. About 30 minutes. Let it sit at least 2 hours before slicing.
*Tapioca flour is a great thickener for berry pies. You can substitute equal amounts of corn starch, but your pie must bubble all the way to the center for 3 minutes or your starch will be cloudy, raw, and ick. You’ll need to protect the top crust from over-browning at the end of baking with foil. With tapicoa flour, the pie only needs to bubble (over) on the sides.