Pie is berry berry good to me

August 26, 2007 on 7:43 pm | By | In Food Musings, Recipes | 3 Comments

Black & Blue PieI fully intended to write this post while berry season was still in full swing, but life got in the way. I made this pie as dessert for our marathon training celebratory lunch but obviously only had the stamina to write about the lobster rolls. Besides, I’ve been a bit scatterbrained. Not only have I been consumed with our training, I headed to Philadelphia for five days for the national conference of the U.S. Personal Chef Association (for which I also had to conduct a presentation on “A Day in the Life” of a personal chef). I returned to a full week of client cook dates, then had to prepare for the Danskin Triathlon. Another full week of cook dates followed, as well as a rehearsal dinner for 25 and a sit-down dinner for 11. Oh, and did I mention we’re going to France? Holy FREAKIN’ Moley! I have six days to pack, pay bills, clean the house for the house-sitter, finish my costume, figure out how to auto-respond to my email (hopefully without also sending emails to all the spammers), make a list of restaurants/food shops to visit in Paris, write a blog post on my costume on Eat Drink Run Woman, record outgoing messages on my business line saying I’m out of town, craft a proposal for a 60th birthday buffet, come up with dinners for the week that use up the food in our fridge, stop the newspaper, make copies of our house keys for our house-sitter and our neighbors and learn French. Oh, AND I have clients every day THIS week. I mean, really, who has time for all this…

Oh wait, where was I? PIE! That’s right, PIE!

I recently listened to a culinary podcast where they posted the question, “Pie or cake?” Both have their merits, but I’m definitely more partial to pie, especially berry pies. I’m not huge on sweets, and therefore prefer the tartness a berry pie provides.

I’ve been a berry girl ever since I was young. Raspberries are my all-time favorite, and I’ve been known to steal a taste whenever I can. The pea patch at the end of our street posts warning signs that the produce is only intended for those who have contributed to the upkeep of said patch, but the raspberry bush beckons me as I return from my runs around Greenlake. I rationalize my larceny by telling myself the berries would just rot on the bush if not picked. And doesn’t picking the berries assure they’ll come back even stronger the next year?

But given I was preparing the quintessential Maine lunch, blueberry pie was in order. Of course, the blueberries we get here on the West coast aren’t quite the same as the smaller, more flavorful berries of Maine, but they’d make do. (Hush up — I know what you’re thinking: FIRST I’m not satisfied with the hot dog rolls available out here; only the New England-style ones will do. NOW I’m not happy with the berries. I suppose next I’ll be saying that the fall foliage is WAY better in New England — more colors and brilliance. Well, if you’re so much happier with New England, why don’t you move there, Betsy? Or marry it? Huh? Huh?)

Ummm, where was I? (See — I TOLD you I was scatterbrained).

While I love berry pies, I consider it a waste to cook them; you might as well use frozen berries. But then I was introduced to the fresh berry pie; HALLELUJAH! This pie incorporates the best components of a pie — flaky crust, touch of sweetness — but maintains the freshness of summer-ripe berries. The majority of the berries aren’t cooked; only a handful are simmered with sugar and a bit of water mixed with cornstarch to make a cohesive pie.

You basically can make the pie with any berry, but for this I used blueberries and blackberries (given how sore we were after our run, a Black & Blue pie seemed apropos). While I used fresh blueberries for the base, the blackberries were frozen (we didn’t have time to make our annual trek to Magnuson Park to pick fresh ones, plus the store was out. But since the blackberries would be cooked, I figured frozen would work out fine).

As with many of my recipes, I don’t have exact measurements. But I don’t think they’re necessary. Basically you pre-bake a pie crust (I used a store-bought crust; blasphemous, I know. I suppose I should turn in my chef card). I had some plum jam in the fridge, so I brushed a couple of tablespoons on the crust just as it was coming out of the oven. (You could also use the same flavor of jam as your berries). Once the crust was cooled I poured in a pound and a half of fresh blueberries. I then simmered a pound of frozen blackberries with about a half cup of sugar and the rest of the plum jam (about 2 tablespoons). I mixed about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with some water and added it to the blackberry mixture. You want it to thicken, but still be pourable. Let that cool just slightly and then pour the mixture over the fresh berries. Jiggle the pie plate to ensure the blackberry mixture seeps down into the fresh berries. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

(On another note, this will most likely be my last post for a couple of weeks as we’re heading to France on Saturday. But if you’d like to follow my marathon training progress, go to Eat Drink Run Woman. I’m hoping to write a few posts on that blog while we’re there).



  1. Hi, Miz Francy Pants. That Pie shore looks good! We’ve been making pies and jam and crumbles and crisps and fools and all kinds of what have you with this year’s bounty, too. I wish it would stay… Sigh!

    Comment by Lesa — September 8, 2007 #

  2. Looks YUMMY! Hi, I’m Britt, I found your page on Lesa’s website. I’m a pastry chef, here in Seattle too. I’m looking forward to getting to know your blog! My brand new, humble little blog is at


    Comment by Brittany — September 19, 2007 #

  3. Thank you for stopping by! We just returned from France so I’m busy catching up. But I hope to write a post about our adventures soon!

    Comment by ovens2betsy — September 19, 2007 #

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