My parents almost always have a pie in the cupboard: apple in the fall, pumpkin in the winter, rhubarb in the spring and blackberry in the summer. My mom makes the crust. My dad makes the filling. I’ve never had a pie approaching the quality of theirs.
Sylvia & Ernie’s Blackberry Pie
Adapted from American Cookery by James Beard
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup rendered leaf lard. (This is refrigerated lard, not the shelf-stable kind in a box. Available at Rain Shadow Meats in Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square, Swinery Meats in West Seattle, and many other butchers and farmers markets. In a pinch, online editor Isolde Raftery used a 50/50 combo Crisco and unsalted Kerrygold butter.)
¼ cup ice water, approximately
4 cups blackberries, rinsed (see below for technique). Burke-Gilman trail and Magnuson Park have some good brambles; wear jeans and boots, because the thorns are real. It took Isolde 30 minutes to pick three cups.
¾-1 ½ cups sugar, or more for not-that-sweet berries. Stick to the lower amount if the berries are sweet, or it could end up being too sweet.
¼ cup flour (if the berries have released much juice before added to crust)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice (for sweet/very ripe berries)
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
The secret of crust-baking: Work fast – that is, without distraction.
Fill a drinking glass with ice water.
Get all of your ingredients and tools out and handy.
Flour a rolling pin and a pastry cloth (you can use a wide, smooth-textured dish towel, or just skip the cloth).
A long, narrow metal spatula works well to both level the flour, then later to scrape the crust off the cloth if it sticks.
Sift the flour with the salt or stir together with a fork or pastry blender.
Add the lard and shortening and cut it through the flour with a fork, pastry blender, wire potato masher, or two table knives; or rub between your fingers until the mixture is in pieces about the size of a pea.
Add water a few drops at a time and toss the mixture with a fork to combine the water evenly. The dough should not be wet, but just moistened enough to hold together in a ball.
The weather and the specific flour affect how much water you’ll need to use.
Chill the dough in the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes if it seems too soft.
Roll out slightly more than half of the dough for the bottom crust, then lay into the pan.
Flour the rolling pin and pastry cloth a bit more for the second crust, then roll it out.
Rinse the blackberries by putting them in a colander and dip up and down in a bowl of water. Gently toss with the sugar, flour, salt and (if using) lemon juice.
Turn into the pastry-lined pie pan.
Dot with butter.
Trim the pastry edge and moisten it.
Cover with the top pastry, trim the edge, crimp the top and bottom edges together, and prick steam vents with a fork.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and bake 25 to 30 minutes longer, until the edge of the crust is golden. Do not overbake – you want the fruit to retain flavor.
Cool on a rack.