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Growing up, my mom let us pick out what we wanted for dinner on our birthday. I always asked for the same thing: boysenberry apple crumb pie from Julian Pie Company. I’m not sure if it’s the boysenberries that are just sweet enough, the perfectly flakey and buttery crust, or just good ol’ fashioned nostalgia that’s kept this particular pie as one of my favorites. Actually, I take that back. I do know … It’s secret answer d) all of the above.
The only pie better than the aforementioned? A homemade one from your own oven. A well made pie is a thing of beauty and when you make it yourself it becomes so much better, it becomes a baking accomplishment that radiates with warmth and love and deliciousness. Okay, so maybe that was a bit intense/silly/cheesy, but it’s true!
I know, I know.. pie crust is difficult to make. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it. In fact, I have full faith that you can and will succeed if you pay attention to what you’re making. Pie crust isn’t difficult, per se, but it is less forgiving than other doughs. The trick is to not over handle or overwork it. If the dough starts to warm up, spring back when rolled out, or if a few tears are patched.. place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so. 90% of the time this will do the trick and the crust will still come out flakey and delicious.
Note: We currently have a surplus of ripe peaches on hand, which so happen to be the perfect pairing for pie. You, however, should use what’s in season. Apple? Blueberry? Strawberry? Pecan? The crust itself can be used to make 1 pie with two crusts or 2 pies with a crumb or whipped cream topping. Have fun with it!
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Foolproof Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. sugar
12 tbs. very cold (as in spent the last half hour in the freezer cold) unsalted butter cut into 1/4 pieces
1/2 cup very cold vegetable shortening (or lard or more butter*) cut into the same size pieces as the butter
1/2 cup cold beer that’s been placed in the refrigerator for 10 – 20 minutes until it becomes as cold as it can be without freezing
*I don’t mind using vegetable shortening, but I’m not particularly keen on its flavor contribution. I personally prefer to substitute with a quality lard (it’ll make your pie taste so much better), but I know that frightens many people. All butter can be a bit much with a fruit filling, but again, it comes down to personal preference (or what you have on hand) and the flakiness really is easier to obtain when 1/3 to 1/2 of the fat comes from lard or shortening.
6 medium ripe peaches
1 basket of blackberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbs. nut brown beer
3 tbs. all purpose flour
2 tbs. corn starch
2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar for the pie crust. Add the very cold (keep it in the freezer until ready to use) butter/lard/shortening and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, quickly and carefully work the fat into the flour. The goal is to retain small pieces of the fat that will vary in size, but are mostly around the size of a pea. You can also do this in a food processor, although I tend to overwork the dough when I do. Simply pulse for 15 seconds until the dough begins to to clump, scrap down the sides, and pulse an additional 4 or 5 times.
Lightly sprinkle the beer over the flour mixture and then use a fork or spatula to bring the dough together.
Form the dough into two balls and gently flatten into disks. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour, up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
To begin the filling, rinse the peaches in cold water. Pat dry and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place in a large bowl with the blueberries, beer, and lemon juice.
In a small bowl, whisk together the spices, salt, flour, and cornstarch. Sprinkle over the fruit mixture and lightly toss until the peaches are evenly coated. Place in the refrigerator while preparing the pie crust.
Remove one and only one of the disks of dough. Lightly flour the countertop and a rolling pin.
Roll the dough into a 13-inch circle. The edges do not need to be perfect! Try to maintain an even thickness throughout and patch any holes along the way. If the dough begins to warm up or spring back on itself, place on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so before handling again.
When ready, roll the dough onto the rolling pin and then roll out onto the pie pan. Gently lift the top of the round and use your fingers to press the bottom ever so gently against the side. There should be some excess dough draping over the sides. Place in the refrigerator while preparing the second crust.
Roll the second crust out just like the first.
Pour the filling into the pie pan with the bottom crust.
For a solid top crust, drape the top over the filling and crimp the sides together with your fingers or a fork. Cut small slits in the center for the steam to escape. Alternately, you can create a lattice top by slicing the second piece of dough and layering on top of itself over the filling.
Brush with the beaten egg, sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375F and bake an additional 45 – 60 minutes (begin checking on it around 40 minutes as all ovens are different). The pie is down with the top is golden brown and the filling begins to bubble.
Place on a rack and allow to cool for a minimum of 2 hours.
Should you have any leftovers, they can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days.