When my husband and I got married one of the things we had a little difficulty with was the wedding cake. He’s not a cake person- he’s a pie person, and I didn’t know at the time that I’m WAY more of a pie person too! So in the nine years that we’ve been married I’ve made way more pies than cake. After teaching Naomi how to make bread she wanted to move on to a dessert. Of course it had to be a pie!
I’m kinda picky about pies. While most pies are pretty good, in order for me to head-over-heels LOVE a pie it needs to have a few things going for it. I like a flaky-yet-substantial all-butter crust. I like that crust baked just this side of too dark. But not so dark that it gets overly dry. I also appreciate a slice of pie that (generally speaking) maintains its wedge shape. I like a filling that tastes like fruit, not sugar. And I’m sure there are a number of other things – if they come to mind later, I’ll tack them on to the end of this list.
Also, get yourself some mini pie plates! Seriously! The ratio of crust to filling is just perfect, and it’s easier to eat less if you say “I can’t eat a whole pie” 😉 This recipe makes four mini pies or one standard size pie.
Making pie crust can sometimes be the most daunting part of pie making. I’ve tried cubing the butter in a food processor and a few other techniques but if you want to know how to make the perfect pie crust follow the instructions at Chez Pim using the ingredients listed below. If my 5-year-old can make these pies almost entirely by herself, then you can do it!
While you can use cold water, one of the tricks to a balanced savory crust is the cold beer. I used a lemon shandy to compliment the berries and lemon in the filling but use what you have on hand. Plus, now you get to finish that beer while you wait for the crust to rest in the fridge.
If you don’t have a rolling pin, no worries! Use a long smooth sided glass! Also perfect for little hands.
- ⅔ cup whole wheat flour
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp fine grain sea salt
- 1 cup salted butter
- ⅓ cup cold beer
- ⅔ cup natural cane or brown sugar
- ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ tsp fine grain sea salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 sprigs thyme (about ½ tsp)
- 2 pounds berries
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 egg plus 1 tbsp water, whisked
- Large grain sugar, for sprinkling
- You can make the crust using the quick and popular food processor technique. BUT I always make it by hand, using the above ingredients, and the technique linked in the post. If you like a super-puffy crust, do the folding in Pim's instructions 4x. I usually like mine less so, and fold & roll just 2 or 3 times, depending on how the dough is feeling. The pie in the photo was 3x.
- Preheat your oven to 425F. Roll out your pie crust - top and bottom - on a flour dusted counter. I tend to work the edges a bit first (particularly if I'm getting cracks) - roll and turn, roll and turn, dusting with flour when necessary. Flip once or twice. Work quickly and keep the dough moving. Divide into 4 portions. Place between unbleached parchment paper or Silpats, and refrigerate while you make the filling. It's o.k. if your dough doesn't roll out into perfect circles - you can patch and pinch later if needed.
- Make the filling by combining the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and thyme in large mixing bowl. Add the berries, and toss gently until well combined. Set aside.
- Line 4 mini pie plates with the bottom pieces of pie dough. Guide it into place without stretching. You want about an ½ inch of dough extending past the rim of the pie plate, trim a bit with scissors or a sharp knife if needed.
- Fill the crust with the berries, drizzle with lemon juice, and dot with the butter. Brush the rim of the bottom crust with a bit of egg wash, then top with the other pieces of pie crust. Trim the top crust a bit if needed, then press the top and bottom crusts together at the edges. Working around the rim, tuck the overhanging dough under itself, and crimp with a fork or flute using your fingers (see picture up above). Brush the crust with more of the egg wash, cut a few slits into the top, and place in the oven two at a time for about 28 minutes - until the crust is deeply golden. Check your pie. If you need to foil the edges of the pie - pull it out and do so - this way the edges wont get too dark and dry. I don't have to foil in my oven for this pie, even at this temp, but your oven might be a bit different. I also turn the oven down to 375F and sprinkle the pies with large-grain sugar about 20 minutes in - for a little extra crunch and sweetness. Let cool a bit, slice and serve.