Bumbleberry Pie

Fruit pies are American comfort food. Summertime is when the abundance of berries and fruits call for the pie baker to get busy! With the rainbow of fruits and berries before us there is no lack of combinations to try.

If you opt to skip baking a pie only because the crust is a challenge, here is a simple recipe for a “press-in”” pastry shell. It hardly takes more time and effort than pressing a commercial refrigerated pastry shell into a pie pan. What’s lost in flakiness is gained in flavor (not to mention the comfort of knowing what’s IN the crust itself!)

When you bake this type of crust, it doesn’t shrink or change shape when you need a pre-baked pie shell. For a double-crust pie, I just press half the crumbs into the pie pan, and pour in the filling and top the filling with the remainder of the crumbly mixture.

A while ago I received a request for “”Bunbleberry Pie””. I had never heard of such a thing, but after some research discovered that this is a category of pie which mixes fruits and different kinds of berries. I’ve tested the recipe with a variety of fruit and berry combinations, including blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, with or without rhubarb, with or without apples all with delicious results. Just be sure to have a total of 5 cups of fruit.

The idea of bumbleberries fascinated our grandkids so much that they asked for bumbleberries and cream for breakfast almost every morning. We just combined different berries in a bowl and they were perfectly satisfied! Now I’m thinking – maybe a bumbleberry coffeecake or a bumbleberry cheesecake would be fun. But, here’s the pie for starters.

BUMBLEBERRY PIE

  • Pastry for a double crust pie, either your own recipe or Press-In-Pastry (recipe follows)
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 small cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup blackberries or blueberries
  • 1 cup rhubarb, cut into 1 inch lengths
  • Water and about 1 tablespoon additional sugar for top of the pie

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Roll or press pastry into a 9 inch pie plate. Stir sugar and flour together in large bowl. Add apples, raspberries, blackberries, and rhubarb. Toss together, and turn into pie shell. Cover with top pastry (either crumb pastry as described in the Press-In Pastry recipe, or with your own rolled-out pastry). Seal the edges. If you use a rolled-out top crust, slash vents onto the top crust, if using crumb pastry, this is not necessary. Bake for 45 minutes, or until browned and filling bubbles. Makes one 9-inch pie, about 8 servings.

MIXED BERRY PIE

  • 1 recipe Press-in Pastry
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh gooseberries or raspberries
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Prepare the filling and press half of the crumbly pastry evenly into a 9-inch pie pan. Combine the berries, almond extract sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl; toss to mix well. Turn into the unbaked crust. Sprinkle with the remaining pastry crumbles, or press the remaining crumbs together to make a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and using a cookie cutter, cut into leaf, flower or other shapes and arrang on top of the fruit filling. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the filling in the center is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Cool until barely warm or to room temperature before serving.

PRESS-IN PASTRY

  • 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, or 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 whole egg

Mix flour and sugar together. Cut in the butter (you can do this in the food processor) until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg until well blended. Press half of the mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan, pushing it firmly to make an even layer. For a pre-baked pastry shell, preheat the oven to 300*F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned. Cool completely before filling.

For a double-crusted, filled pie, pour filling into the unbaked crust. Sprinkle the second half of the pastry mixture over the top. Bake as directed for a double crust pie.

Welcome to my website!

SALT CAKE

I was about five years old and I had already discovered that it was far more pleasurable to satisfy the wishes of my parents than to rebel. Maybe it was because my mother lost her mother at the age of five. She must have told me the story, though I don’t remember, but for some reason I carried this vision in my mind. I know she told me more about it later in life.

She always referred to “Stepmother” when she talked about the woman who had replaced her mother after her untimely death. “Stepmother never let us into the kitchen,” she would say, “I want my kids to know how to cook.”

So when she said I needed to learn how to bake a cake, I agreed. She took out the big tan crockery mixing bowl with blue stripes round the outside, the wooden spoon, and the essential ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, salt, baking powder, flour, vanilla and milk.

The wood stove had been fired up so that the gauge on the front of the oven read “350*F.” It was winter and the stove was always hot and ready for baking.

She scooped an egg-sized sphere of butter and slapped it into the bowl. “About a half cup is right”, she said. Then she poked the butter with the tip of the wooden spoon making indentations that looked like so many commas in a row. This was to soften the butter, she said.

Then she added sugar in twice the measure of the butter, about a cup and stirred it until it was all creamy. She added eggs, two of them, stirring really fast so that the liquid of the eggs was whipped into the butter mixture. She went on to mix in the flour and baking powder, and explained that one teaspoon of baking powder to one cup of flour was the best proportion. Vanilla for flavor and enough milk to make a smooth, pour-able batter and the cake was ready for the baking pan.

“Taste it” she said, “If it tastes flat – add a pinch of salt. We did, and we mixed it in. Then we scraped the batter into the buttered pan and stuck it into the oven to bake until a straw plucked from the corn broom and stuck into the center of the cake came out clean and dry.

I tried to memorize all this. I hadn’t yet started first grade and couldn’t read or write so I couldn’t take notes. It was some time later and my mother was in labor, not an uncommon occurrence – there eventually were ten of us. Dr. Van Valkenberg (Floodwood’s resident physician) and my father were in the bedroom with her. I wasn’t allowed into the room. The kitchen stove was fired up because they needed boiling water to sterilize stuff. My job was to open the side lid of the wood stove and add a piece of firewood every fifteen minutes or so.

I decided then to bake a cake for “Mummy”.

I took out the bowl and spoon and tried to remember all the ingredients. I mixed the batter as I remembered it. Last of all, I tasted it. It was flat. I added a pinch of salt. Still flat. I added another pinch of salt. Still flat. Finally I was tossing handfuls of salt into the batter and it didn’t help at all. The batter looked good. So I poured it into the pan and put it into the oven. Pondering what could have been wrong when the cake was half baked, I realized that I had forgotten the sugar.

The cake turned out golden and beautiful. It looked good! I proudly served my mother a square. She didn’t say anything about it being salty. She only said that it looked beautiful.

Many years later she admitted that the cake I had made was so salty it made her mouth pucker. That was Mummy – always encouraging and always looking for the best in others.