Before the competition…
I’m feeling a little ridiculous and a lot elderly, as it’s 7:30 a.m., and some homemade pie crust is already chilling in the fridge. Also, I’m wearing a bright green dress that puffs out and is straight out of 1986.
This recipe, using both crisco and butter, seems extra flaky, and I’m excited to test the results… The dough is slightly less pliable than the all-butter crust (perhaps because I didn’t add enough water?), but it has little streaks of butter, and I just know this is going to turn out all right. (I’m trying to embrace Kate McDermott’s positive thinking.)
The pie is now in the oven, and our entire apartment smells of pie. Again. Now I’m twiddling my thumbs, thinking about curricula, and hoping that this pie isn’t an epic fail. Also, why did this song come on Pandora? Okay, who am I kidding, I love it.
Ooh! It’s done! Perfectly browned! Bubbling berries! Crispy and flaky! Pie perfection! (Aside from a little lattice error, that is…)
State fair, here we (the pie and I) come!
After the fair…
After getting lost, wandering the empty fairgrounds while carrying a pie, and receiving perplexed looks from others, I found the barn where people submit their baked goods, and I talked with sweet bakers about their baking. Despite all the good-natured small talk, the air of serious competition never lifted.
I was by far the youngest in biological age (in terms of hobbies, we were all about the same), and most people submitted multiple things. One pie for me, thank you very much. I loved the ladies’ enthusiasm for baking and for the fair itself, and I found myself talking to other bakers in a barn for far too long. Is that embarrassing?
The fair itself isn’t today, but judges taste today, and results are posted at the fair later in the week.
Look out later this week, when I’ll let you know if I got a ribbon! (Aren’t you on the edge of your seat?!) But I still have one winner to announce, and that’s a reader named Andy. He commented regularly and offered wonderful pie-baking tips. His link to Kate McDermott’s site, and his expertise on butter and lard (which I think gives him bragging rights) helped me create a better pie and be a better baker. Andy, please email me at email@example.com, and I’ll send you a little prize! Congratulations!
State Fair Blackberry Pie
2 1/2 C all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbl high-fat European butter, such as Kerrygold
8 Tbl crisco
7+ Tbl ice-cold water
5-6 C blackberries, rinsed, picked clean, patted dry (if you use frozen berries, defrost and drain them)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like your pie)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 Tbl instant tapioca (in the baking aisle)
Freeze the butter and crisco. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Grate or cut crisco and butter into small squares. Toss with flour mixture. Add ice water until the dough combines into a ball and before it gets sticky. Divide into two balls; flatten into discs; and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and let sit for at least 30 minutes. If the berries are extra-ripe, add a little more tapioca flour to soak up the juice.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out one disc of dough until its diameter is about an inch wider than your pan. Place in pan, and fill with dough. Then make your lattice top (or whatever design you fancy), and brush the dough with egg white, and sprinkle with sugar. (If you are making a lattice, top, use this tutorial.)
Place pie on a baking sheet, to catch any berries that bubble over. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes; then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Cook for 35-45 minutes more, until crust is nicely browned and filling is bubbling hot. Serve a la mode, and then play bridge like you’re in your 80s.
Care to know the results and how I placed in the state fair? Hint: this pie rocks. Click here!