Let's talk summer - and pie crusts.
One of the things I look forward to in the summer is little wild blackberries. They are something not to be missed. If you don't live in the Pacific Northwest, I can try to describe the flavor, but it will be a little difficult. They taste like concentrated marion berries, but tarter. Since they are only harvested from the forests and not grown in a controlled environment, their taste and moisture content can vary from year to year. Some years are sweeter, some are juicier. They are always delicious.
If you haven't had them already, I strongly suggest you try a piece of little wild blackberry pie sometime before you die. It should be on everyone's culinary bucket list.
I've discovered that if you want to make fruit tarts, one of the tricks is to pre cook the filling as much as possible. It allows you to control the moisture better, as well as taste for sugar content.
Now let's talk pie crust. I'm sure those of you that browse the internet have seen about a million different foolproof recipes for pie crusts. I hope I can clear up some of the confusion. The recipe I use is simple - it's from one of Julia Child's cookbooks. I just added 2 T. of sugar to help browning. The difference is the technique.
One of the things I've discovered is there is a very fine line between handling the dough too much and not enough. Not enough, and you end up with butter pieces that are too big, resulting in strange areas of your crust. Too much and you end up with a rather tough pie crust. The key really is in the butter.
I always start my pie crust with frozen butter. The difference? I don't cut my butter into small cubes, I shred it. Yes, it may sound rather strange, but since I use a food processor for my pie crusts, it's just one more step in the food processor. Once the butter is shredded, it distributes so much smoother into the flour. I highly encourage you to try my method of pie crusts, you won't be disappointed!
Little Wild Blackberry Turnover filling
2 cups little wild blackberries, picked through to make sure there is no debris
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. butter
3 T. cornstarch, disolved in 1/4 c. water
In a medium saucepan, bring the blackberries, sugar, salt, and lemon juice to boil. Slowly stir in the disolved cornstarch, until you reach a desired consistency. Taste for the correct amount of sugar, adding more if needed. Take off heat and add butter. Cool to room temperature while you shape the pie crust.
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cake flour
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar
6 oz frozen butter
1/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. ice water
In a food processor, pulse the flour, cake flour, salt, sugar, and shortening until well combined. Remove the blade attachment and shred the frozen butter over the top of the flour mixture. Re-attach the mixing attachment and pulse 4-8 times, until well incorporated.
Slowly pour in the ice water, and pulse. Add just enough water for the dough to form a ball. Take out of the processor and shape into a disk. Refrigerate 2 hours or up to 3 days.
Little Wild Blackberry Pie filling
1 egg beaten with 1 t. water
3-4 T. pearl or turbinato sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
Divide the pie dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll one piece into 1/4" thick dough. Cut with a 5" diameter round cutter. Place 1 T. filling in the middle. Brush the egg mixture in the edges of the crust. Gently fold over and seal with the tines of a fork. Place on parchment covered cookie sheet, and continue until cookie sheet is filled with turnovers.
Brush each turnover with the egg wash, and sprinkle with your sugar. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Let cool slightly before eating.