inspired by shabby apple's "pie in the sky" contest, i'm writing up the story of how i became the piefairy and developed my "signature" pie.
i am the piefairy. that's a nickname/title/identity i've held for probably four or five years. the origin of the name is my father. having developed a habit of making pies with a friend for special occasions during my senior year of high school, whenever i came back from college i would find ingredients sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for me. the logical response is to make a pie--and since said pies always showed up whenever i did, my dad dubbed me the piefairy. (i have a hunch he was the ingredient fairy, but that name never really took.)
this pie was inspired by a few recipes in my most-used and much-loved cookbook, pie by ken haedrich. i've adapted it with whatever i have on hand at the time and incorporate some techniques i've picked up over my last five pie-making years.
i call this pie "bumbleberry," which is nice because it's not a specific berry and therefore you can put in whatever you wish. which i do. it's different every time. =) i've made this so often, i have the recipe memorized. it's a very satisfying feeling.
2 cups flour
3/4 stick of butter, frozen (but if you forget to freeze it, cold from the fridge works well too)
1/3 cup sugar, brown or granulated
1 large green apple
~4 cups mixed berries of choice, fresh or frozen (exact amount will depend on the size of your pie plate)
2 tablespoons cornstarch OR 1-2 packets unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
making the crust:
put the flour in a large mixing bowl. grate the frozen butter over the flour with a coarse cheese grater. (it gets kind of messy, but that's okay; if you minded food messes, you wouldn't be baking, now would you?) rub in with your fingertips--the goal is to get all the butter thoroughly coated in flour, and all the flour rubbed into butter. you should end up with the "pea-sized" chunks so frequently described in recipes.
add cold water (cold is important!) one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork. stop adding water before you think you should--i usually do about four tablespoons, though it feels like i should add nearly half a cup. stick it in the fridge to chill, (honestly, i usually skip that step), then roll half of the dough out on a floured surface and transfer to your pie plate. ball up the other half of the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer.
everyone has their favorite method for transferring pastry to the plate--waxed paper, rolling it up on the rolling pin, what-have-you. my way involved gently folding my circle-ish-shaped dough into fourths, then unfolding it in the pan. do what works for you. then stick it in the fridge (again, i usually forget). you can pre-bake the crust if you like--about 10 minutes at 350 degrees should do. if you don't pre-bake, then pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
making the filling:
peel and core your apple, then cut it up into roughly 1/2 inch cubes. put this in a medium-sized bowl. add your berries of choice--strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, and blueberries are all perfectly acceptable options--and top with sugar. dissolve your cornstarch or gelatin in the lime or lemon juice, then pour over fruit. toss everything (and by "toss" i usually mean "mix gently with your bare hands") and set aside for ~10 minutes to let the fruit juice.
making the topping:
remember how you stashed half the dough in the freezer? when your bottom crust is ready (cool, if pre-baked) and your filling has juiced, pour the filling into the crust and let's make the topping. this is a great pie for a standard top crust, and beautiful (dark purple-y red!) for a lattice crust, but i usually make a crumble crust. take the frozen-ish dough, and grate coarsely with a cheese grater over the pie. cover as much as you can, all the way to the edges. add cinnamon or other spices if you so choose.
bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. at that time, remove any crust-rim-cover you may have put on, rotate the pie 180 degrees so the back is now at the front, and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. beat the egg and brush onto the pie to glaze; sprinkle granulated sugar on top of that. bake for 25-30 minutes more (at 350 degrees) until the top is golden brown.
cool completely (difficult, i know!) so the filling can thicken. enjoy with ice cream, whipped cream, or straight out of the pan!