Blackberry Pie (avec Pets de Soeurs!)

blackberry pie

We had a busy morning of mortgage renewal (with two kids in tow, hurray, ugh); the last of the epic two-weeks-of-swimming-lessons-every-day (level passed, yes!); and, then we headed en famille to the market to grab some celebratory pastries and a few extra fresh goods, including berries, of course.  Yes, more berries.  Which means pie.  Another blackberry pie, because the one last week was so delicious, especially the next day.  Pie for breakfast is healthy, right?  Butter, fruit, and unrefined sugar sure helped me to start the day off on the right foot (along with my requisite two coffees)!

blackberries

I grew up on the west coast of Canada, annually inundated with delicious Himalayan blackberries at this time of year.  When picking got slim along the perimeter of these patches of delectable invasive species, creative solutions arose.  We lived close to the beach and would haul up any suitable driftwood we could find, laying them down on the bush, squishing the plants, and then walking the plank, surrounded by thorns and… blackberries, and we would pick until we couldn’t.  The pain was always worth it.  With yogurt containers hung around our necks, we had two hands free to glean every berry in sight.  Dumping the loaded container into an even bigger 4 L ice cream bucket waiting patiently on the grass.  Four kids meant lots of hands for picking, resulting in a large batch of freezer jam for the year, as well as lots of blackberry pie.

blackberry pie crust

I’ve modernized the recipe that I grew up on, swapping out the refined white sugar for some Grade B maple syrup, but feel free to use good ol’ white sugar – it’ll do the trick nicely, too.  While I cringe to buy blackberries in Alberta, when they never (ever) taste as good as the sun-kissed, ocean-sprayed ones of my childhood, I’ve been transplanted in the prairies long enough now that I have to rely on my vivid memories to help mask the sub-standard taste of the cultivated varietals we get here.  Thankfully, with a little sugar and spice, almost anything can be nice!

making blackberry pie

Blackberry Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 servings

Blackberry Pie

Ingredients

For the Pastry:

1 c whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 c unbleached white flour

2 T white sugar, optional

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 c butter, cold

3-5 T cold water

extra flour, for rolling

For the Filling:

4 c blackberries

1/2-2/3 c maple syrup (or white sugar), depending on the sweetness of your berries

pinch of sea salt

2 T cornstarch (or other thickener, like flour)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated

1-2 T demerara sugar, optional

Directions

  1. Make the crust ahead of time, if at all possible - 30-60 mins or more chill time is ideal; I like to do it in the morning to get it done, wrapping it in an Abeego and chilling in the fridge for the rest of the day. Put the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into chunks and add to the bowl, working it in quickly with your fingers or a pastry blender until it is the texture of oatmeal and peas.
  2. Get a fork for stirring and add enough water until it just starts to form a ball. Finish forming the ball with your hands.
  3. Divide the dough in two and form discs. Wrap in an Abeego (or similar) and refrigerate.
  4. Take the dough out of the fridge when you are ready to assemble the filling. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  5. Put the berries in a large bowl. Pour the maple syrup in and stir to coat. Sprinkle in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  6. Clear and lightly flour a surface for rolling. Roll the bottom layer until it is big enough to fit in a 9" pie plate. Transfer to plate and use the tines of a fork to prick holes in the crust in a few spots.
  7. Roll out the second ball to roughly the same size as the bottom crust. Since blackberries are very moist, it is best to do a lattice style top here, so bring on your Martha. If you want to keep it simple, do wider strips and don't weave them. I like to gently press in 1-2 T of demerara sugar on the pastry before weaving the lattice.
  8. Trim any excess pastry, and pinch or crimp the edges as you like.
  9. Bake for about 40 minutes, until bubbling and nicely golden. Definitely put an old cookie sheet or something on the lower rack of your oven, otherwise you will be smelling burnt sugar the next time you turn on your oven, especially if you are like me and use a few extra berries in your filling!
  10. I prefer to serve this pie at room temperature as the fruit has a chance to set up and I find the flavour of many fruit pies more pronounced when cooler.

Blackberry pie, reminiscent of my childhood.

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Now, for the pets de sœurs!  Take the trimmings from your crust and scrunch them up into a ball.  Roll this out into a rectangle.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.  We like to add raisins some times, too.  Roll up, cinnamon bun style.  Cut into 1.5-2″ wide pieces.  Pop these little “nun’s farts” into an oven proof pan and throw them in the oven with your pie for 25-35 minutes, depending on their size.  This is our family’s way of making pets de sœurs: my mum’s mum grew up in Québec – where this curiously named little delicacy is from – and made these for her and my mum made them for us and now I make them (and my husband wonders where they’ve been all his life).  These are perfect for snacking on while you wait for your blackberry pie!

blackberries7

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