Along the sides of roads and down country lanes blackberry brambles are in full fruit. They are in fact coming to an end and before they disappear for another year along with fresh blueberries, here is an easy mixed berry pie, finished with a crumble topping. When picking wild blackberries, it is always a good idea to find an out of the way place to harvest. Brambles beside busy streets get covered in exhaust and other pollutants. Ripe blackberries will fall apart easily so be gentle with the water and with patting dry. Having a few “green” berries in the pie is not a bad thing as they have higher pectin and will help thicken juices as the pie bakes.
A quick way to avoid the “make pastry step” would be to use a thawed sheet of pre-made dough. This was put together in an 11 inch flan form with removable bottom but it will work in a regular pie plate as well, although you may not need all the crumble topping.
The purpose of the ground nuts is to help absorb the liquid from the berries and keep the base from getting soggy. If you decide to use frozen fruits instead, thaw and drain before adding. Taste purchased fruit as it may be a good idea to add more sugar or lemon juice.
You will need:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup fat (shortening, lard or butter)
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch or two of cinnamon
3 Tbsp. cold water
3 Tbsp. ground almonds
1 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 melted butter
3 1/2 cups blackberries, rinsed, picked clean, patted dry
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. almond extract
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 handfuls ( 1 1/3 cups) fresh blueberries
Combine the sugar, lemon juice, zest, cinnamon, extract and cornstarch in a bowl and add the blackberries. Toss until covered and then put aside for about 30 minutes. This will extract some of the juice and dissolve the sugar and cornstarch.
In another bowl place the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and melted butter. Stir to combine and then also put aside until the pie is put together. Let me quickly say here that there are hundreds if not thousands of variations to crumble topping, so if you have a favourite, please feel free to use that instead.
Preheat the oven to 400 degree F.
Place flour, salt, cinnamon and fat in a bowl and using your fingers break up the fat, until it resembles the picture below. Do not overwork the dough as the pastry will become tough when baked. The idea is to leave pea size pieces of fat that will melt and create air pockets while baking.
Add 3/4’s of the water and mix to bring the dough together. Add the remaining water if needed and then transfer the ball of dough to a floured surface for rolling. Give the rolling pin a dusting of flour as well to keep the pastry from sticking and repeat as needed. Roll the dough out only until large enough to fit the pan. Gently fold in half and transfer to pie plate. Massage into place and crimp the edges as you please. In a flan form just push the dough into the the scallops, making sure not to brake the pastry or getting the pie out will become an issue. Place in the fridge until putting the pie together.
Cover the bottom of the pie with ground almonds. The amount needed will depend of the diameter of the pie plate being used. Spoon the fruit into the pie plate, leaving the juices to the last. Stir the liquids to ensure everything is combined and spoon over the fruit. There should be less than 1/4 cup of liquid.
Top the blackberries with fresh blueberries until nicely full but not overflowing. Add the crumbles as the final layer. Leaving spaces for the fruit to bubble through is a choice. Putting a tray on the shelf below the pie will help catch any juices.
Turn the heat down to 350 degrees F, and bake for 30 minutes and before checking. The crumble should be nicely brown and any visible fruit bubbling. Give it another five minutes if needed.
Allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before removing the flan forms outer edge. If using a regular pie form this step is not required. It can sit until ready to serve. If however, the fruit has bubbled over in the flan getting the edges separated before the sugars cool and stick is a good thing. Using a knife, separate any obvious places where there might be an issue and then watching the pie carefully for any missed spots, push the bottom circle up raising the pie above the edges of the outside piece. Return to the cooling rack and continue to cool.
These delicious berries will not be around for much longer so now it the time to enjoy all that the earth has given us this year.