All those berries picked fresh on Thursday went into the freezer, bagged up for pies. Two big bags went with us to the cabin for Moore family weekend. Yesterday we had too much fun playing with baby Vivian and watching Ella learn to swim, and sending the fishermen (and women) out in various boats to try their hand at catching the perch, bass, and rainbow trout in the lake, to even think about baking pies. Kathie, my eldest sister, mixed up dough for two pies, and this afternoon I blended two filling recipes together into what I hoped would end up being the perfect sweet, not-too-runny, blackberry pie.
Dave found the recipes for me, searching online for the best options, and making notes. He takes his blackberry pie very seriously! My final recipe used both flour (not cornstarch) and instant tapioca mixed with sugar in a big bowl, then I added the berries (9 cups for my deep-dish pie plate) and lemon zest and lemon juice, and stirred occasionally for 20 minutes to allow the sugar to start breaking down the berries and making juice. While that magical chemical reaction took place, I rolled out the bottom crust (with help from Ella, my 5-year-old great niece), rolled it up on my antique rolling pin, then poured the whole gooey purple mess into the pie crust. I chose to do a full top rather than a lattice top; easier to do at the cabin with limited counter space. Ella watched the whole process and asked questions; this little girl is very interested in cooking and baking already... perhaps she'll be a master chef one day.
Into the oven it went to bake for about 80 minutes, longer than the hour specified in the recipe. Finally the juices started to bubble out of the slits, and after leaving it for 20 minutes to cool on the counter, it went into the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Finally came the moment of truth: when I cut into the pie, will it be set up enough? Well, no. It was a bit juicy, but not bad. The flavors were wonderful and the pie was judged a success.
The next day I mixed up the second pie and made a few changes to the filling, adding an extra tablespoon of flour and the same of tapioca. My second, slightly shallower dish needed about 8.5 cups of berries, and baked about the same amount of time. This pie set up perfectly, but it was not as sweet as the first pie. We didn't mind... with the Tillamook Vanilla Bean ice cream, it was a delicious combination. And it looked pretty good, too, especially on the rustic table my brother-in-law Bob made for us.
So next week I'll bake Pie #3, and will tweak the recipe again. I'll post the final recipe in my blog as soon as my own personal food critics give me the OK. Stay tuned...