Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pi Day - Blackberry and Apple Pie

Kitchen Parade is hosting a one-off event called Pi Day to honour pi, the mathematical constant approximating to 3.14. In a wonderful play on words, to participate in Pi Day, you must make a pie with a home-made crust and post about it between March 10 and March 14.

I have mentioned previously that one of my favourite food magazines is Cuisine, a Kiwi publication. While flicking through Issue No. 127 (March 2008), I spotted a lovely sounding recipe for a single crust blackberry and apple pie by Ginny Grant on p102. I am a sucker for a fruit pie, so I have chosen to make this pie for my Pi Day entry.

If a blackberry and apple pie with a cream cheese crust strikes your fancy, you will need the following ingredients:


100g plain flour
100g cubed butter
100g cubed cream cheese

Fruit filling

1kg apples
50g butter
3 tablespoons sugar
300g blackberries
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons cornflour
milk to brush the crust

To make the pastry, blitz all the pastry ingredients together in a food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Press the pastry into a disc and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

While the pastry is chilling, peel, core and slice your apples into wedges. (I used my fantastic $2 shop gadget that cores and slices in one go.) Melt the butter in a large frypan, then add the apples and sugar and cook the apples until they are soft. Add the blackberries and brandy and stir lightly so as not to break up the blackberries, then finally, sprinkle the fruit mixture with the cornflour and mix through to thicken slightly.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Grease a deep pie plate, and spoon the fruit mixture into the pie plate. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out until roughly 3mm thick, then place over the top of the fruit, cut off the excess pastry around the edges of the pie and prick the top in a few places with a fork so that the steam can escape during baking. Ginny recommends refrigerating the crust again for 30 minutes after rolling out, but I didn't find it necessary. (At this stage, you should also brush the crust with milk to help it brown in the oven - I forgot this part, but it ultimately didn't matter much. You can also optionally sprinkle the top of the pie crust with extra sugar to give it some extra crunch.)

Place the pie in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180 degrees Celsius and continue to bake for roughly another 30 minutes until the pie crust is golden. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before serving.

The highlight of this pie for me was definitely the fruity filling. Cooking the fruit prior to baking gave it a marvellous depth of flavour, and the smell and colour of the cooking fruit was delightful. I was not so enamoured of the crust, and if I made this again, I would probably use a standard egg pastry, and perhaps give it a double crust.

As part of Pi Day, we have been asked to include some tips and tricks about making pastry. In general:
  • Start with the amount of flour stated in the recipe when making pastry. If it is too sticky to form into a ball, add more flour; if it is too dry, add cold water tablespoon by tablespoon until the pastry is of the right consistency to work with easily.

  • Refrigerating pastry wrapped in clingfilm for roughly half an hour makes it easier to roll out.
  • I find it easier to roll out pastry on a sheet of lightly floured greaseproof paper. This stops the pastry from sticking to the bench, and makes it easier to lift once rolled out.

  • If I find a particular pastry is hard to roll out without sticking to the rolling pin, I find that rolling out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper is helpful.

  • The greaseproof paper on which you rolled out the pastry can be used to lift the pastry into the pie dish without breaking. Draping the pastry over the rolling pin also helps with lifting it.
  • Try and avoid making pastry on a hot or humid day, as it makes the pastry very soft and almost impossible to work with.

  • If it is very difficult to line the pastry pan with a particular pastry in one piece (eg because the pastry is very soft), then you can always patch up any holes with leftover pastry and smooth over the patches with your fingers until they meld into the crust.

I find a food processor invaluable in making pastry, because it cuts out a lot of the elbow grease in rubbing butter into flour, and is much quicker. Partly for this reason, partly because it produces a great tasting pie crust that doesn't compete with the filling, and partly because it doesn't shrink much, I like to use this pastry recipe from Exclusively Food for sweet pies.

Thanks to Kitchen Parade for hosting Pi Day, and do check out the progressive roundup of pies


Happy cook said...


Alanna said...

Just gorgeous, Cakelaw! Thanks so your beautiful pie, for contributing to Pi Day and especially, the long list of tips. I do hope we together inspire others to aspire to homemade pie crusts!

Rachel said...

That is a nice pie filling there...

Peter M said...

Ah yes, Pi and 3.14 in high school math!

Your blackberry pi is much more appealing.
I'll have 3.14 pieces please!

Swati: Sugarcraft India said...

Wow..a lovely pie..nice tips too for beginners!!

Cakespy said...

I'd say it's a perfect 10, but perhaps I should rather rate it an ideal 3.14xxxx (fill in the rest here). Yum!!

Tempered Woman said...

I'm a fan of using the 'ol food processor when it comes to pie crust as well. I love the idea of blackberries with apples~ I have blackberies in my garden that always need a home so thanks for the great recipe and idea! Beautiful pie.

Pixie said...

Yesterday I kept seeing tiramasu today, it's all about the apples!!! Why can't you live just next door.

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Happy Cook :)

Hi Alanna, thanks for creating and hosting pi day - I am loving all those great new pies.

Thanks Rachel - in this case, the filling outshone the crust.

Hi Peter, I will need help from my maths teacher to work that out!

Thanks Swati - glad you liked it.

LOL Cakespy!

Tempered Woman, I am envious of you having blackberries growing in your backyard. Sigh ...

Hi Pixie, wouldn't it be great - we could swap dishes over the fence.

kellypea said...

Yay! Happy Pi Day! Well, almost, right? I'm a sucker for fruit pies, too -- especially ones where the fruit is all cooked together like this. We used to grow blackberries in our old house and I really miss them. The cream cheese in that crust has my attention....Nice "Pi!"

Lisa said...

Sounds yummy! I love berries and apples but never thought of putting them in a pie together. Thanks for the idea. Happy Pi Day!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Blackberries and apples must be fabulous together! And I just bought the juiciest blakberries on Sunday. Thanks for the inspiration!

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Kellypea - how nice it owuld be to grow your own blackberries.

Happy Pi Day to you too Lisa!

Thanks Susan - the flavour combination is good, and that purple colour is devine.

Arfi Binsted said...

I am fond of Cuisine, apart from its price, but it's just nice to buy it when there are recipes you can try out. Lovely pie and I quite agree with rolling the pastry in between the baking sheet. It helps so much!! The colour is plus!

adele said...

Wow. The color of that fruit filling is incredible. :)

I'm hoping to take part in the Pi Day event... I might make it in just under the wire.

White On Rice Couple said...

We're participating in Pie day too! But this is through EvilChefMom.blogspot. Is it the same thing?
We'll take two slices of your apple pie, with ice cream on top please!

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Arfi - I agree with the price comment, but I am now "hooked".

Good luck Adele - I will check back to see if you made it.

Hi T&D, EvilMom must be doing anohter one - this one is through Alanna at Veggie Venture/Kitchen Parade. Two slices coming up!

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

Dear Cake Law
All the best for the submission of 3.1432......... a nice concept and all the best to you

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely pie! I really like seeing the fruit ooze out the sides of the top. Yum!

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Anamika.

Hi Gretchen, yes, the fruit oozing out is tempting as it hints at what lies beneath.

Laurie Constantino said...

I love everything about this pie - the fruits look lucious and the crust the perfect compliment. You have a good list of pie baking suggestions. One thing: if you cuts slits in your top crust instead of just poking it, it releases steam and keeps the crust crisper. Plus it prevents blow-outs aroung the edges - you get to decide where the juice runs out. I usually just cut a series of decorative cuts in the center, but some people make shapes and elaborate designs. Thanks for the great post.

Cakelaw said...

Hi Laurie, great tip - thanks.