The perfect Apple and Blackberry Pie is about getting the sweet-sharp balance right in the filling and in making a light, sweet pastry …
The Fruit Filling: The perfect fruit pie should be plump. Don’t worry about mounding up the fruit in the pie filling – the pastry should be stretched over the pie filling and supported by it, not so that it hides a hollow cave and dearth of fruit beneath. The secret to being able to happily fill the pie is that we have stewed the apples before hand, so during baking we are just crisping up the pastry and cooking the blackberries. Cut the apples into largish chunks, not small slices, to help keep their shape.
The Pastry: This pastry should be a classic butter, lard and flour shortcrust; made light, fragile and crisp during baking. A very soft pastry, containing sugar and egg yolks, tends to collapse and become soggy. To keep the classic shape of the pie use an old-fashioned enamel (or stainless steel) pie dish with a deep base and a wide rim. The wider the rim, the easier it is to seal the pie pastry with a crimp, (see the photos). A good seal between the pastry bottom and top crust ensures a great tasting and looking pie. Roll the pastry out quite thin, to achieve the right consistency.
The Sweet-Sharp Taste: We need to allow some of the natural sharp acidity of the wild blackberries to come through, which is a crucial contrast to the stewed apples and sugar-crusted pastry. Unlike a plain and traditional Apple Pie recipe, where the balance is all about the level of sweetness in the pie, here it is all about how sharp we want the pie.
A home-made apple and blackberry pie (using wild blackberries, or local farm produce) has a natural tartness, which is tempered by serving it with a Vanilla custard or dollop of double cream – if you prefer it sweeter then add in about 20% more sugar than recommended in the recipe, but note you may be drowning out that natural and organic acidic ‘snap’ which should come from baking this particular fruit pie.
Blackberry And Apple Pie Recipe
Makes a pie for six people.
For the pastry
- 300g plain flour (sifted)
- 1/2 tsp of sea salt
- 75g unsalted butter (softened and diced)
- 75g lard (softened and diced)
- 2-3 tbsp cold water
- 1 egg (beaten, for glaze)
- 1 tbsp demerara brown sugar (for glaze)
For the filling
- 3-4 large Bramley cooking apples, (peeled, chopped, stewed and cooled)
- 500g Blackberries (picked over and cleaned)
- 100g sugar (or to taste)
- serve with Vanilla Custard
1. Making the Pastry: Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in the sea salt. Rub in the softened, diced butter and lard until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you could do this in a food processor). Add the cold water to the flour mixture a little at a time, (you might not need all of it) and, using a knife, mix the water into the flour, using your fingers at the end to firm up the pastry mixture. The pastry should be of an even colour, firm (but not tough) and at a consistency for easy rolling. Put the pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes wrapped in cling film.
2. Stewing The Apples: Peel and roughly chop the apples, removing the cores. Put them in a saucepan, add 2 tbsp of water and 2 tbsp of sugar and leave them on a low heat, keep an eye on them so the pan does not boil dry, until the apples have softened and stewed (around 15 minutes). Once the apples have stewed turn the heat off, add in the blackberries, mix and leave to cool. Do not add the blackberries until right at the end, after the apples have stewed.
Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas 6.
Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the pastry into two halves, one slightly larger. Take the larger half for the base and roll it out so that it is thin and big enough to cover a traditional 20cm enamel (or stainless steel) pie dish that you have buttered lightly. Place the rolled out pastry in the pie dish and trim around the edges with a knife, using the edge of the plate as your guide. Gently ease the pastry into the dish, try not to stretch it, going around the dish slowly, lifting each part of the pastry in, rather than pressing down.
Cover the pastry in the bottom of the dish with the stewed apples and blackberries and sprinkle all over with the sugar. Note: the amount of sugar in an apple and blackberry pie is a personal thing. The first time you make it, taste after baking, to see if you prefer more or less sugar added in for the next time you make one. However, try not to loose all of the natural sharpness in the pie which comes from the blackberries.
Roll out the other smaller half of the pastry. Moisten the edge of the bottom layer of pastry in the dish with a little beaten egg yolk and place the second piece on top. Trim off any excess pastry overhang with a knife, using the plate edge as your guide.
Flute the edges of the pastry crusts with a pinching action, using your fingers and thumb to seal, or use a fork to press down and seal the pastry top and bottom. Brush the surface of the pastry crust with beaten egg all over and sprinkle over some demerara brown sugar for a glaze. Prick the surface of the pastry lightly with a fork in two or three places before placing the pie in the oven. Cook for 30-35 minutes at 200C.
When the Blackberry and Apple pie is cooked it should move slightly on the plate when gently shaken. Cut and slide out a slice of pie on to a serving plate, and serve either with some cream or home-made vanilla custard.
Note: If after removing the first slice of Apple and Blackberry Pie there is any excess juice in the pie (depending on the quality of the blackberries used) spoon the excess liquid out into a little bowl. Then over each slice of pie drizzle some of this juice back over (with Vanilla Custard or Cream) – or pour the excess juice into a saucepan, add some sugar, and reduce by boiling to a thick syrup, drizzle this delicious fruit syrup over the pie, or keep for later to have on some ice cream.