I am crazy for berries. Today I had a conversation where I decided that blueberries, no strawberries, no, blackberries, no raspberries were my favorite of all time. In a nutshell; I love them all. We used to have a big raspberry patch by our garden (before it created a monopoly on the place and had to be removed) and I would spend ages picking the raspberries and plopping them into old yogurt containers. One in the container, then one in the mouth; a very good system to abide by. Once inside the house, they would join a medley of blackberries to create a fantastic brown-sugar crumble. With a spoon of vanilla ice cream melting on top and hot berries bursting on the roof of your mouth, there was nothing quite like it. Nowadays we sport a hearty blueberry bush and a thorn-less variety of blackberry. They keep us satisfied in the season, and leave plenty for freezing so we can enjoy their flavors year round.
On my bike to work I pass all these fresh produce signs advertising strawberries, raspberries, and even a handful of blueberries. These fresh, local fruits have been calling out to me for the last few weeks, so I’ve decided to jump on it before it too late. What better way to celebrate such a delicious situation then a Tri-Berry Pie with a Vanilla Lemon Crust? Adapted from “The Essentials Baking Cookbook” by Bay Books, I amped up the spices, lemon-y goodness, and vanilla to bring you this delectable dish. Here’s the nice thing too; it’s a free form pie. No careful rolling, sealing, and decorating (which I actually adore doing, but with so much working, I minimize “feet time” these days), this makes it a really good pie to make if you’ve never tried pie making before. It is very forgiving, and even if you don’t get that perfect flaky crust, how can berries, pastry, vanilla, and lemon NOT taste good? Tear it when you fold it over, don’t finish the edges? Hey, it’s rustic. It looks even better that way. Serve with a big dollop of unsweetened whip cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a nice contrast to this sweet dish.
Tri-Berry Pie with a Vanilla Lemon Crust
1 ½ c white flour
½ c icing sugar
125 g chilled butter, cubed
1 vanilla bean
¼ c lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb. your favourite berries, in this case blueberries, rasberries, and strawberries (cut into rough pieces)
zest of two small lemons
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ c icing sugar
beaten egg white (1-2 depending on the size of your eggs)
sugar and icing sugar for sprinkling
1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2- Whisk together the flour and icing sugar so light and well blended. Cut in cold butter until it resembles bread crumbs (I coat my fingers with the flour and break it apart by gently squishing it).
3- In a measure cup, squeeze lemons to get ¼ c of juice, and add your vanilla extract. Mix these two distinct liquids together well, because you might find that you don’t need all the liquid and you want to have both of those flavors in there.
4- Scrape the beans out of your vanilla pod and set aside. Make a little well in the flour mixture, and pour in half the liquid. Add the vanilla on top to help it distribute evenly via the liquid. Mix together by cutting it with a flat edged knife. Keep adding little bits of liquid until you can press your mixture together and it will stay as placed. Squish into one big ball
5- Roll out dough onto parchment paper into a big circle, about 8 “ in diameter and put in the fridge for 10 mns. Meanwhile, mix all the filling ingredients into a bowl.
6- Take out dough and make sure it is pliable. Brush bottom with a bit of egg white, then pile filling in the middle. Gently pull up the edges and press around the filling. Brush with egg white, and sprinkle with a little sugar.
7- Put into the hot oven, and bake for about 30 minutes (For me, it takes 30 minutes in my big oven, and as much as 40 minutes in my toaster oven). You know its down when its nicely browned, and you can lift it gently with a spatula without it sticking. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve!