The thought of baking pie is enough to make many grit their teeth, myself included. I wouldn’t call myself a pie baker, but I’m getting there – my buttermilk crust never lets me down and, with practice, pie has become much less anxiety-inducing and far more rewarding. To top it off, I came across a fantastic story on pie in the latest Bon Appétit. The greatest takeaway for me? Each pie is going to be different, even pies baked with the same recipe: Because sweetness, tartness, and juiciness are all dependent on how ripe your fruit is, not every pie will be the same every time. With my spirits high, I turned to the kitchen to transform overflowing baskets of blackberries into pie.
Jammy blackberries, floral honey, and a hint of woodsy thyme make up this quintessential summer pie. The wonderfully sweet-tart filling makes a fine counterpoint to the flaky buttermilk crust. I used blackberry honey as my sweetener of choice; orange blossom would be excellent as well. You may want to add more honey than I did, or serve the pie with a dollop of honey whipped cream. Taste your berries, and you’ll know. Ultimately your pie may not be perfect, but it’s still pie and you’ll savor every bite.
Buttermilk Pie Crust
- 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, divided
- 1 2/3 cups flour
- 3 Tbsp cornmeal
- 2 1/4 tsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp low-fat buttermilk
- 1–2 Tbsp vodka
- 5 cups blackberries
- 3/4 cup honey, warmed
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp minced thyme
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp arrowroot starch
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp cold milk
- 1 Tbsp Turbinado sugar
- Prepare dough: Grate 6 Tbsp butter into a small bowl; cut remaining 6 Tbsp butter into small cubes and place in a second bowl; chill bowls in freezer for 15 minutes. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; place bowl in freezer to chill for 15 minutes. Chill buttermilk and vodka in freezer for 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle cubed butter over chilled flour mixture and toss with a spatula to coat. Use a pastry blender to cut in butter until the biggest pieces are the size of peas; fold in grated butter. Drizzle buttermilk over flour mixture; use a spatula to gather dough together until it forms large clumps. If needed, add vodka 1 tablespoon at a time, then gently knead just until dough comes together. Gather 2/3 of dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and flatten slightly to form a disc (this will be your bottom crust). Repeat with remaining 1/3 of dough (this will be your decoration). Chill dough in the refrigerator at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days, or place in a freezer bag and freeze 1 to 2 months).
- Place larger disc of dough on a floured board and dust dough with flour. Roll out dough (roll dough in one direction, then lift up dough and rotate a quarter turn and roll, then repeat) until dough is a 12 to 13-inch circle. If dough starts to stick, use a bench scraper to lift dough from board. Transfer dough to a standard 9-inch pie dish; trim overhang to one inch. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Place smaller disc of dough on floured board and dust dough with flour. Roll out using same procedure, until dough is 1/8-inch thick. Flour a fluted biscuit cutter and cut out rounds for the top (re-roll scraps once if needed). Chill rounds in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Prepare filling: Combine blackberries, honey, lemon juice, thyme, arrowroot starch, and salt in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine. Spoon filling into chilled bottom crust and top with fluted rounds. Fold up dough overhang and crimp with a fork to seal. Chill assembled pie in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425°F and place a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil in the center of the oven. Brush pie with milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar; place pie on preheated baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and continue baking another 45 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown. If pie is browning too quickly, cover with foil for remaining baking time. Cool pie on a wire rack for at least 4 hours (filling thickens as it cools). Once pie is cut, store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Arrowroot starch is a natural thickener and creates a smooth, shiny sauce. Available online or in the natural foods section.
- Calories: 320
- Carbohydrates: 48