I don't know about you, but I always seem to miss Pi Day (03/14!). In the almost three years since I started this blog, I have never remembered to make a pie for the big day! Maybe it's because I'm no good at math? That's one theory. I had no real trouble until seventh grade, when geometry reared its ugly head. It was just too abstract for my liking, I guess, and things went down hill from there.
No wonder I took cover in books (pun intended) and eventually became an English major, who worked--predictably--in a college bookstore. Then I dabbled as a high school English teacher until I realized that wasn't where my heart lay, and then spent almost twenty years working in editorial departments for a publishing company. So, no math for me. Well, at least not the real scary kind.
This year, though, I felt I should give Pi Day its due with a nice--what else!--pie, and it just so happened that I was already planning to make a bumbleberry pie when the special occasion conveniently rolled around. Thus we have today's treat--a bubbly, juicy, gorgeously fruit-packed dessert for all of you math lovers (and math haters) out there!
About this recipe . . .
The crust recipe--a really good one and very reliable--came from Ken Haedrich's massive chunk of a book (over 600 pages), which is aptly titled Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie. I have no doubt this volume is getting a heavy workout today in kitchens across the country.
The filling was pretty basic, so didn't require a formal recipe. I just cobbled it together based on my own past experience: thawed frozen Montmorency (sour) cherries (from northern Michigan, of course!), fresh blueberries, a few fresh blackberries, and one small, sweet, peeled Honeycrisp apple, chopped into small pieces. All of it mixed with sugar, cornstarch, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a splash of lemon juice. That's it! Too easy.
So what's a bumbleberry anyway, speaking of abstraction? There's no such thing! It just refers to a fruit-filling involving any assortment of berries, as well as apple and/or rhubarb. What a great name for a pie! Bumble bees come from north and south to hover around these pies, as you can see (that little design I put on the top is supposed to be a bee . . . can you tell?).
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)
For the crust:
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 and 1/4 tsp. salt (I used coarse kosher.)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into small chunks
4 oz. very cold water
In the large bowl of a food processor, dump the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse it a few times to mix it up. (You could certainly also make this dough by hand, using a pastry blender.)
Add in all of the butter pieces and pulse several times. Open the lid and use a fork to unclump the contents. Add in all the shortening and pulse several times. Open the lid again and unclump/fluff the contents with your fork. Now, drizzle 4 Tbsp. of the cold water all over the top. Pulse about six times. Drizzle in 4 more Tbsp. of the cold water and pulse again about six times. It should look crumbly, with chunks here and there the size of large peas. Gather a small bit in your fingers and squeeze it together. Does it hold together easily? If so, good. If not, drizzle a tiny bit more water and pulse again. When it's the proper texture (it should be not too sticky--too much water wrecks pie crust--and not too dry), dump it all out into a large bowl. With your hands, gather it all together into a big ball. Cut the ball in half almost evenly (the slightly larger part will be for the bottom crust), and shape each half into a disk about an inch high. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill it for at least an hour, preferably longer (up to about 24 hours max) and, if you want to be on the safe side, mark them with the date/time you made them, and note which one is slightly larger (I write "top" and "bottom").
When you're ready to roll out your pie crust, take the disks out of the fridge and let them warm slightly for about twenty minutes or so. Flour your work surface, your rolling pin, and the dough disk you're about to roll out. Very lightly grease your pie plate with vegetable shortening. Roll the dough out so it's a couple of inches larger than the circumference of your pie plate. Transfer the rolled dough to the plate (I find it easiest to roll the crust loosely right onto my rolling pin and then unroll it directly onto the plate, but use whatever method works for you). If you'll be baking within half an hour or so, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If it'll be more like an hour until you bake, refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate.
To prepare the filling:
4 cups frozen sour cherries, thawed and drained (I used Montmorency cherries.)
1 and 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup fresh blackberries
1 sweet apple, peeled and chopped into very small pieces (I used a very firm, medium-size, Honeycrisp.)
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
In a large bowl, place sour cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and apple pieces. Drizzle with lemon juice and toss gently to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Scatter this over the fruit and stir gently to distribute it evenly. Set aside for about ten minutes.
When your oven is heated, and your pie is ready to be filled with fruit, pour all of the bumbleberry mixture into the shell. Dot the top with little pieces of unsalted butter. Roll out the top crust and place it over the fruit, sealing the edges firmly as you prefer (with your fingers, with the tines of a fork, etc.). Carefully cut a few steam vents/slits in the top. Brush the top of the crust lightly with milk (don't brush the edges of the pie; they're the first to darken) and sprinkle liberally with sanding sugar. Place the pie in the oven atop a baking sheet, or atop a piece of foil you've sprayed with vegetable spray (so it won't stick to your plate) to catch spills. Bake at 400 for about 25; check the pie and turn it around. If it's browning too fast, cover the top lightly with foil. Continue baking until the pie is golden, at least 15 to 20 more minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 if at any point you're worried about it burning.
Let the pie cool completely (or almost) before slicing.
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