Sweet. Tart. Floral. Berries are the perfect combination of those three tastes. And when you pair them up with a crusty, salty, flaky crust you just might feel like you're in heaven. Think I'm exaggerating? My friends, I wouldn't steer you wrong.
I first saw a version of this recipe on the site Rachel Cooks. She made a beautiful, shiny blueberry pie that appeared to hold together remarkably well. That is one thing about berry pies that has always bothered me; they tend to be runny and the filling dumps into the middle of the pie pan after the first slice is removed. I have experimented with adding tapioca pearls to my berry cobblers with great success. But those little pearls can be telling and can potentially cook unevenly and flour just makes it murky so I knew there must be a way to incorporate some other thickener to get the results I was looking for.
After reading the full recipe I saw that she adapted it from a blueberry pie recipe by Baked Bree. Again, she shows a glossy pie that held together quite well.
So after reading both recipes I concluded that the trick was indeed cornstarch. A surprisingly large amount of it: 6 tablespoons. I was a little hesitant to put that much cornstarch into my pie but then I realized, this filling is pre-cooked. And you pour it into a pre-cooked pie shell. Pre-cooking the filling allows the cornstarch to get even distributed and come fully up to temperature, allowing it to dissolve and thicken. I was a tad wary that it might make my pie cloudy but if you look at their photos, it doesn't appear to have effected their results so what-the-hay, I would give it a try!
(Don't be confused by the sight of 2 pies below. We had 2 family get-togethers that day so I went ahead and doubled the recipe so each gathering would have it's own pie.)
First things first, I had to get some berries. The other 2 recipes call for all blueberries but I crave plump, juicy blackberries (or better yet boysenberries) this time of year, so instead I opted for a combo of fresh blackberries and frozen wild blueberries. Off I went to a local farm stand to find some fresh blackberries. 5 miles down the road I found 7 full pints of the biggest blackberries I have ever seen. I bought them all, even though I really only needed 4. And yes, we ate them all.
About that time I realized I had not eaten lunch! There was a brief intermission so I could whip up a fresh blackberry vanilla protein shake. And eat a handful of berries.
While my pie crusts were cooling I worked on the filling which was as simple as throwing everything into a pot, stirring well till it boiled, stirring a few minutes more, then setting it aside to cool.
I let the filling cool just for bit then tossed in a few more whole berries for good measure, then poured it into my pie shells. Into the fridge they went for a good 3-4 hours and then we devoured. The filling stayed together beautifully and the flavor was intensely "berry". The tartness of the blackberries rounded out the sweet perfume of the blueberries... ohhhhh, it was heaven.
The full recipe is below, with my own changes. I hope you can give it a try because it really was one of the easiest pies I've made and truly delicious.
(adapted from Baked Bree)
- 1 precooked, cooled pie shell
- 2 pints of fresh blackberries, plus 1/2 pint (optional); rinsed
- 2 cups frozen wild blueberries (I use Wynan's brand)
- 6 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 1 1/4 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your blackberries)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
In a large saucepan, combine 2 pints of blackberries (reserving the 1/2 pint for later), blueberries, and cornstarch, stirring gently so as not to damage the blackberries. After the cornstarch is evenly distributed, add the salt, sugar, water and lemon juice and turn the heat up to medium high. Stirring occasionally, allow the mixture to come up to a soft boil. Continue to stir for 2-4 more minutes, letting the mixture get thick and coat the spoon. Remove from heat and add the butter, gently stirring to combine.
Allow the mixture to cool slightly then add the 1/2 pint reserved blackberries then pour mixture into your cooled pie shell. Cover loosely with plastic wrap (just to make sure nothing falls into it) and set in refrigerator to cool for at least 3-4 hours before serving.
PS: You might have a little extra filling so might I recommend cooling it then using it to top a serving of full fat Greek yogurt? Trust me, it's yummy.
If you must transport your pie before it has rested in the refrigerator for 3 hours, be sure to place it in a cardboard box or you will end up with blackberry pie filling all over your car. You have been warned.