Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Berry Thyme Pie with Crisp Topping

If you know me and my writing, you know I love to bake pies. With berry season in full swing, I decided to make a mixed berry pie. Only instead of two crusts, I opted to top the berries with my favorite crisp mixture.

My berries of choice were strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. To thicken the inevitable juices I used a mere tablespoon of cornstarch. And for a bit of a twist, I added a tablespoon of fresh French thyme leaves from my garden.

I made the pie for a lunch I threw for my mom and a few of her friends. What made it easier was that I had a pie crust disc in the freezer already. I made it for a meal awhile ago and it was so handy to have that ready to defrost and roll out. So, if you're making pie, make an extra crust or two, shape them into discs, wrap them in plastic, then put them in a freezer bag. The night before you want to bake, defrost what you need in the freezer overnight.

You can do the same thing with my crisp recipe. This is something I always try to have on hand. A batch made with the recipe below will give you enough for a couple of pies at least. Or if you just want to make single serving crisps, cut up the fruit, place in a small baking dish, and then pull out the crisp from the freezer to top the fruit before baking.

I've included one of my favorite pie crust recipes below. This is from Belgian pastry chef and owner of Michele Coulon Dessertier. It's very easy--made strictly with butter, not butter and lard or Crisco. That means you should invest in the best butter you can find. For more tips I've learned from Michele, take a look at the piece I wrote years ago when she taught me how to make this crust.

Berry Thyme Pie with Crisp Topping
(printable recipe)
Yield: 1, 9” pie, 8 servings

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 cups assorted fresh berries
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 pie crust (see recipe below)
Crisp mixture (see recipe below)

1. Mix together sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add berries and thyme and gently toss to combine. Let stand, stirring occasionally while you roll out the crust. 
2. Roll the pie crust on a lightly floured surface into a 13” to 14” circle. Carefully transfer into a deep, 9” pie pan. Trim overhanging dough to 1” and fold underneath along the edge of the pie pan, then crimp decoratively. Freeze the crust for 20 minutes and pre-heat oven to 400° F.
3. Spoon berry mixture into chilled crust. Evenly sprinkle crisp topping over the berries. Place pie on parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any runover. Bake pie until crust and crisp topping are lightly brown—about 55 minutes. Cover the pie loosely with foil if the topping browns too quickly. 
4. Remove pie from oven and let cool before serving—at least 3 hours. 

Pie Crust à la Michele Coulon
Yield: 2 pie crusts, top and bottom. Cut recipe in half for 1 crust.

4 cups flour
1 teaspoons salt 
1 pound cold European-style butter cut into 1-inch chunky pieces

1.  Mix until coarse crumbs form.
2. Add 12 tablespoons or 160 grams ice water.
3. Mix until just blended. Shape into two discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate. 

If you don’t plan to bake the pie within a couple of days, wrap well and freeze. Later you can defrost the discs overnight in the refrigerator.

Caron’s Crisp Mixture

What I love about this recipe is that I can make the mixture in advance and store it in the freezer. 

Makes 8 to 10 servings, depending on how much you use per serving.

Mix together:

2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 ½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon fennel pollen
1 cup unsalted butter, melted

Store in the freezer until you’re ready to bake.


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