It starts with a pie

**Update 3/13: This is not a g-free recipe. See note at the end**

Hello out there in blog-land! Welcome to The Kitchen Klutz! I’ve read that the most successful blogs have a schtick, so here’s mine: I’m a college student, who, like many others, is toying with the idea of culinary school after college, largely due to the influence of Top Chef. Though I label myself as cooking-obsessed, the honest truth is that I’ve done scant cooking on my own. I’m actually kind of a klutz in the kitchen. I’m frantic and frenzied and, if forced to cook more than one dish at a time, am usually near tears by the end. Grocery lists and meal-planning make me want to revert to ramen every night. When I move into my new apartment in a week, I will be cooking on an everyday basis for the very first time. I hope not only to become less of a klutz but to discover if my love for cooking is more than a pop culture-induced phase. On this blog, I’ll share the recipes I find and create along the way.

We’ll begin with a pie.Whoever said television rots your brain clearly never watched Pushing Daiseis. The Piemaker is my culinarified Mr. Darcy, Cheno and Cod will forever be my favorite detective duo, and Charlotte Charles is to blame for the impractical number of dresses in my closet. But I digress — I bring up Pushing Daisies because out of that show, my love for pie was born.

This pie is one of the few things I consistently make and consistently make well. The first time was two years ago, and as the first thing I ever baked on my own, it will always occupy a special corner of my heart. Since then I’ve taken it to parties and pot lucks, always with positive results. Though you’d never guess it from my lengthy instructions, this pie is really quite simple — ideal for beginning piemakers. To that end, I’ve included lots of little tips I wish I’d known the first time I made a pie.

I’d like to think the Piemaker would be proud.Ned’s Four Berry Pie
adapted from of all places

Pies can be tricky little bastards. You can’t really taste them before you foist them on other people. I mean, you could. But then you would be gifting a partially eaten pie. The first time I made this pie with my friend Amanda, it looked more like a cobbler than anything else, so don’t be discouraged if that happens the first time. Or the second. Or the tenth. Berries vary both in sweetness and consistency, so blame Mother Nature.

For the Filling:
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup* fresh blackberries or boysenberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (if  you have difficultly finding cranberries, substitute you can’t find quartered strawberries)
1 tsp cinnamon
2.5 tbsp flour
2.5 tbsp cornstarch
1-2 cups sugar depending on the sweetness of the berries and your personal tastes
*1 cup of berries is roughly equal to one standard grocery store carton

For the Crust:
I’m told making crust from scratch is stressful, so for now, I use 2 Pillsbury “Unroll and Bake” Pie Crusts plus 1-2 tbsp butter.

1.  Preheat oven to 425°F. No seriously, do it now. 99% of the time I forget until I’ve already assembled the pie. Then I have to stand around for twenty minutes while the oven mocks me.

2. Wash berries and DRAIN. If you’re using quartered strawberries, draining is especially important. Overly damp berries make soupy pie. If you can stand waiting, place your colander on top of a medium-sized bowl (to catch the juice) and let the berries drain in the fridge for an hour or two.

3. While waiting for your berries to drain, follow the Pillsbury package instructions for defrosting the crust. Unroll one pie crust into a 9-inch (preferably glass) pie pan.

4.  Mix flour, cornstarch, sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, gently mix the drained berries with about half of the dry ingredient mixture.

5. Place a layer of the remaining dry ingredients in the pie pan. Add a layer of berries, and alternate between berries and dry mix until all berries are used – usually 3 layers of berries, four layers of dry. You may have some dry ingredients left over. When you’re done layering, you should have a lovely, snow-covered mountain of berries. Don’t worry, the whiteness disappears as the pie cooks. Dot the top with butter.

6. Wet the rim of the crust with water. Drape the second pie crust over the top, firmly pressing the edges of the top and bottom crust together. Cut off any excess crust and discard. If you want to get fancy, you can lattice the top crust, but I usually opt for the simpler design pictured on the right– eight slits cut it in the top, with a forked edge. Brush top of crust with butter to create that flaky, homemade look.

7. Be sure to protect the edges of the crust with either pie a shield or aluminum foil. I also like to set my pie on top of a baking sheet, so any unfortunate drippage ends up there instead of burned onto the bottom of the oven.

8. Watch the Pushing Daisies pilot while your pie bakes – approximately 40-45 minutes. Look not only for a golden brown crust, but juices boiling up through the slits in the crust.

9. While the pie cools, treat yourself to more Piemaker eye candy. When cooled completely, slice the pie and serve solo or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Leftover pie can be covered with foil and left out at room temperature for about two days. I’m paranoid about ants, though, so I usually store it in the fridge.

Serves 8 pie lovers.

Thanks for reading! Also thanks to my brother Nathan for letting me use his awesome camera, my lovely roommate Allyson for proofreading, Lizzie for saving me from an unfortunate blog title, and at The First Kitchen for inspiring me with her pie post.

Up next – Garlic-Roasted Summer Squash.

Note 3/13 for G-free readers: I’ve seen g-free pie crust at the store but haven’t tested it myself yet. Also, I suspect that the gluten-free all purpose flour can be substituted for the wheat flour, but again, I haven’t had a chance to test it myself. If you decide to attempt this recipe before I do, be sure to buy a g-free brand of cornstarch. Recommendations for converting this pie to g-free? Let me know!


11 thoughts on “It starts with a pie

  1. Wow. This looks amazing. I’ve wanted to make a pie for awhile, but I always forget to pick up a pie pan or to look up ingredients before going to the store. I think I want to start of with strawberry rhubarb though. And maybe try my hand at a crust from scratch and some crosshatching on the top? maybe that’s overly ambitious though.

    Why a glass pan over a metal/aluminum one? Does it cook better or is it because it doesn’t stick to the pan? And I hate waiting for preheating haha. I’m pretty sure the one at our apartment takes 50% longer because it’s “green” or something.

    Anyways, I’m really excited about reading more entries from you! And I really enjoyed your first. =)

    • Thanks Justin! You know I’m a little terrified to have anyone actually make these recipes. Hopefully everyone will like them as much as I do!

      Glass pie pans brown pie crust better…I had to look that up, actually. I was using glass just cause the Pillsbury instructions said to. I think you’re right about it not sticking as much with glass, and in my opinion it looks prettier than a metal or aluminum pan. I did make it with a dark metal pan the first couple of times though, and it turned out fine.

      Definitely go for making crust from scratch. Mine might look homemade, but it doesn’t taste it. And if you make strawberry rhubarb, I fully expect a sample. Actually if you make any pie I expect a sample. 🙂 Hmmm…I foresee a pie party sometime in the near future! It must happen.

      • I’ll be sure to try this one out once I’ve gotten a decent grasp on pies and when cranberries are in season. =) The pictures sure do look delicious. And you do a really nice job with presentation!

        hmm, interesting. I know that glass ones are a bit pricier than their counterparts, but I might shell out the extra money in this case…

        yeah, I’ll have to look around for a nice, flaky crust recipe. And yes! A pie party would kind of be really awesome. =D

  2. Oh man, I remember that pie. We discovered the brilliance of using strawberries instead of cranberries (mostly because we couldn’t find cranberries). We also foolishly cooked the pie crust before putting the filling in! Thankfully, my mom had extra around the house.

    I’m really enjoying the blog so far!

  3. No one has commented here for a few months, so I decided to give this recipe a go. 🙂

    The pie was a lot of fun, even though in the end it came out super drippy. A few things I did try differently (with the suggestion of a friend)…

    – Instead of a lattice, I used a fork to mold/decorate the sides.
    – Mayyybe I was a little impatient, but rather than wait around for the fruit to dry, I passed the fruit back and forth between 2 colanders, using a paper towel to dry everything (taking extra care to dry the strawberries.)

    And of course, I had to take pictures of my creation 🙂

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