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Making pie crust * rolling out dough * preparing fresh cherries * care of a wooden rolling pin
- 2 c all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- ¾ c cold butter, cut up (or shortening)
- 3-4 Tbsp icewater
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and cut in shortening or butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add just enough water to hold together. Chill 30 minutes, divide dough, and roll out. Line the bottom of the pie pan with pastry, add filling, then top with the remaining pastry.
- 5 c. raspberries (or frozen, thawed)
- ½ to ¾ c sugar
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Heat oven to 375.
Mix sugar and flour in a large bowl. Add berries and toss until coated. Pour into the pastry-lined pie dish. Top with the remaining pastry and crimp edges. Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar, and cut slits in the top to release steam. Cover the edges with tinfoil to keep from overbrowning.
Bake for 25 minutes, remove foil, and bake another 25-30 minutes. You can substitute blueberries, blackberries, or cherries for about half of the raspberries, if desired.
Pitting cherries? Or MURDER? And the difference between raspberries (red, hollow inside) and blackberries (purple, has a dob in the center):
The pastry while I’m working (that’s a pastry cutter), the pastry when it’s ready to add water, and the dough balls ready to chill:
The bottom crust partially unfolded into the pie plate, putting tinfoil on the crust, the crimped edges of the second pie I made:
The two pies. The one in my green pie plate is prettier, but the one in the deep-dish pie plate didn’t leak all over the oven:
Welcome to the Real Life Cooking Podcast. I’m Kate Shaw and this week we’re going to learn how to make raspberry pie. And yes, you are going to learn how to make your own pie crust. Do not be afraid.
I want to stress going in that this is not hard. It is 100% simple and you are going to make it successfully and be proud and it will be delicious. You can buy a premade pie crust, of course, but I guarantee you that a homemade one is better and well within the abilities of even a novice cook.
This recipe came from my friend Amanda, and I make it every summer when the raspberries and blackberries are ripe. You can use all raspberries in the filling or you can use a mixture of raspberries and other berries, like blackberries, blueberries, and fresh cherries. Amanda says not to use strawberries, though. I’ve never tried it, but I suspect strawberries are both too full of moisture and too lacking in pectin for the filling to gel properly.
The recipe calls for five cups of berries, and Amanda suggested a ratio of two cups of raspberries, two cups of cherries, and one cup of blueberries. I typically use about two to three cups of raspberries, about two cups of blackberries, and enough blueberries to make up the difference. You can use frozen berries, but thaw them first. Fresh is best, of course.
This time—you guessed it—I had to make the recipe before raspberries were ripe where I live, so I had to buy raspberries. I used frozen, along with fresh blueberries and fresh cherries. I didn’t have enough raspberries and it really showed. The pie was fine, but it wasn’t fantastic the way it would be if I’d had more raspberries. So I waited until nearly the last minute, when I had to get the episode finished and uploaded in time, until the raspberries were ripe. I made the pie again with about half and half raspberries and blackberries, with a half-pint of blueberries just to add a little sweetness. The result was much better. So if you look at the pictures in the show notes, the reason it looks like some of the pictures are from a different pie from the other pictures is because they are.
For this recipe you’ll need two large mixing bowls, a pie plate, also called a pie pan, and something you can use as a rolling pin, hopefully an actual rolling pin.
I recommend you spend some money on a real actual rolling pin if you can. I have a solid wood one my grandmother gave me ages ago that works beautifully. If you get a wooden rolling pin, treat it like a high quality wooden spoon. That is, hand-wash it with hot water and maybe a tiny dab of soap if absolutely necessary, dry it when it’s clean, and rub it with a thin coating of olive oil or other vegetable oil to make sure it doesn’t dry out. If you get a good rolling pin, it should last you forever and it’s way easier to use than a glass turned on its side. But yeah, if you don’t have a rolling pin and for whatever reason can’t get one, you can turn a glass on its side and use it to roll your dough out. Just don’t press down too hard on the glass and break it. Plus, I’m just going to warn you that using a glass to roll out dough makes it really difficult to roll it out evenly.
If you’re using fresh cherries in the pie, you’re going to need to pit and halve them. This isn’t hard but it is time-consuming, plus by the time you’re done it looks like you murdered someone in your kitchen. Cherries are juicy and have very red juice.
Put your cherries in a colander and rinse them. Then get a paring knife. Pick off the stem to a cherry, then run the knife all the way around the middle of the cherry. I do this by sort of turning the cherry with the hand holding it while I cut around it top to bottom. Then twist the two halves of the cherry opposite to each other, which breaks it open into two halves. The pit will be in one half. Dig it out with your fingernail and discard it, then put the cherry halves in a bowl. Now do this for every cherry. I recommend you put some good music on or a podcast to keep you from just eating the cherries and giving up on the pie.
This is the same way you pit peaches, by the way, but I’ll give you more information on that in August when I share my very best recipe with you.
Once you’re done with the cherries, set them aside, mop up all the juice, and get ready to make the pastry dough.
The first thing to do before you start is clean off your counter or the table where you’ll roll out your dough. Declutter a good big space, wipe any crumbs and dust off, then give it a good wipe-down with a wet cloth. Then dry it with a clean cloth and run your clean hand across the surface. You should be able to feel any sticky spots or bits of dried food that you might not be able to see. Give it another good scrub with the wet towel to remove those. If you don’t feel that it’s really clean with just water, add some soap and scrub the surface well, then wipe it down with plain water and dry it.
This sounds complicated, but it shouldn’t take you long. The absolute last thing you want is to pick up hairs or toast crumbs in your beautiful pie crust.
Next, fill a quarter cup measuring cup with water and stick it in the fridge. A metal cup is best since it’ll get cold faster, but use whatever you have.
Get a large mixing bowl and measure your flour, salt, and sugar into it. Give it a good stir with a fork or whisk, then cut in the butter using your method of choice. I’ll point you to the strawberry shortcake episode if you haven’t listened to it yet, which explains how to cut fat into a recipe. But after that episode ran, my brother told me he cuts in butter by taking a piece from the freezer and grating it into the flour mixture using a cheese grater. This is brilliant and I meant to try it myself, but I forgot to put a stick of butter in the freezer ahead of time.
So, cut the butter into the flour mixture. For pie crust, the smaller you can get your pieces of butter, the better the result, but don’t obsess over it. I used my usual method of cutting the butter in with two knives, but once the pieces got small I switched to a pastry cutter gadget that’s basically some wires with a handle. You rock the wires through the flour mixture and in theory they cut through pieces of fat, but in actual practice the fat tends to clump up on the wires and I have to scrape it off with a knife, and for big chunks of cold butter the wires aren’t effective at all. That’s why I don’t use it unless I’ve already cut the pieces up small. The gadget just finishes the job more easily than knives.
Once your flour and butter mixture resembles coarse crumbs, you have a decision to make. Do you make the pie now or do you wait until later or tomorrow? Because this is the point where you can cover the bowl with plastic and stick it in the fridge if you want to make your pie later. I’ve seen my aunt prepare her flour and butter mixture for pie pastry the night before Thanksgiving, then finish the pie quickly the next morning.
If you’re ready to roll—ha ha, literally roll out pastry, I mean—get the measuring cup of water you put in the fridge. The colder you can keep pie crust dough, the better your result, which is why you want to use really cold water. But don’t stress about it if you forgot to put the water in the fridge, or if it spilled. Just use cold water from the tap.
Even though you’ve measured the water into a measuring cup, you are not going to necessarily add it all. A quarter cup equals about four Tablespoons of water, which is absolutely the maximum amount of water that needs to go into the dough.
Use a measuring spoon to measure three Tbsps of the cold water into your mixing bowl. Use a fork to smush it into the flour and butter mixture, and don’t be scared to get aggressive. You can’t hurt it and there’s no great hurry. Take your time, smush it really well, pushing any clumped-up dough off the fork occasionally with a clean finger or a knife or something. Then, when you honestly don’t think you can incorporate any more of the dry flour into the dough, add about half of the remaining water.
With luck, it’ll all come together like magic and your dough magically sucks up all the rest of the flour and water. If you still have some dry flour left that no amount of smushing with the fork will take care of, add the last of the water. I will point out that you can use shortening instead of butter in pie crust, which is much easier to cut in but which isn’t as flavorful, and I’ve noticed that pastry made with shortening requires a little more water than pastry made with butter. You probably won’t need that last tablespoon of water at all in pie crust made with butter.
Once your dough is ready, gather it up with your hands and form it into one big ball, then divide it and form each half into a ball. I try to make one of the balls slightly larger than the other, since the bottom crust needs to be bigger than the top crust. Then set those balls back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a dish cloth or plastic wrap, and pop it in the fridge to chill. The colder your dough is when you roll it out, the easier it is to work with. Uh, but don’t freeze it. Fridge temperature is fine.
While the dough is chilling, get your other mixing bowl out. Mix the flour and sugar well. I never use more than half a cup of sugar, but if you want a sweeter pie filling of course you can use more—but don’t go overboard or the pie will be really way too sweet. Once the berries are cooked you’ll be surprised at how sweet they taste naturally. If you use blueberries or cherries as part of the filling, you probably won’t want to add more than half a cup of sugar.
Then, carefully pour the mixture into a small bowl. Then add all the berries to the large bowl where you initially mixed the flour and sugar. Pour the flour and sugar mixture over the berries and stir them with a big spoon, coating them well. You can keep the mixture in the big bowl and throw the berries in on top of them, of course, but it’s much easier to coat them if you add the mixture over the top.
Now it’s time to roll out the bottom crust. Set your pie plate close to the counter or table where you’ll be doing the rolling out, but make sure you won’t accidentally bump it while rolling out. Then turn the oven on.
Sprinkle flour across your clean counter or table. Use your hands for this since your hands do a better job sprinkling the flour evenly and you need to flour your hands anyway. You don’t need a ton of flour on the surface, but you also don’t want to have any big unfloured spots. Use maybe two small handfuls of flour. I like to clap my hands over the surface after sprinkling the flour, which removes a lot of the excess flour from my hands and fine-dusts the counter.
Once you’ve got your surface dusted, pick up the larger ball of dough and flatten it into a sort of thick disc with your hands. The edges will sort of break apart, so do your best to smooth them down, pinching them together so they’re whole, like the edge of a little doughy Frisbee. Then set the disc on the floured counter. Then get a little tiny handful of flour from the canister and rub it into your hands, since the dough just absorbed most of the flour you had on them. Let excess flour fall onto the dough disc.
Now get your rolling pin. The colder your dough is, the less likely it is to stick to your rolling pin, and that’s good, because once a piece of dough breaks off or cracks away from the rest of the dough, you really can’t make it stick properly again, not once it’s been on that floured surface. But don’t stress if it does happen. It won’t hurt anything.
Your goal is to roll the dough out into a roughly round shape that’s very thin. Say, two or three millimeters. If you’ve ever rolled out cookie dough, which by the way we’ll be doing closer to the winter holidays, the technique is the same but you want the dough much, much thinner. Here’s how you do it.
Always start at the middle of the dough, not the edge. Place the rolling pin in the middle and push it toward the edge with a firm outward pressure, not a downward pressure and not an excessive pressure. Let the pin rotate in your hands, actually rolling. Then pick up the rolling pin, place it back on the middle of the dough, and roll it with the same pressure in a different direction. You want to gently but firmly press all the dough outward from the middle to the edges evenly so that it stays roughly round and roughly the same thickness everywhere.
As the dough warms, it will start to stick to the rolling pin. Dip one palm in some flour and rub it along the length of the rolling pin, flouring it and removing any pieces of dough. Dough sticks to dough, so pull off any dough from the rolling pin. When I flour the surface I typically leave an extra little pile of flour on the edge so I can more easily flour my palm by just pressing my hand on it.
When you think you’ve got your dough all rolled out, look at your pastry and look at your pie plate. Is that pastry piece really big enough to completely cover the bottom and sides of the pie plate with a little left over to drape over the edges? If not, you’re not done. Don’t skimp on this. You really don’t want your pastry to be too thick and too small. It won’t cook right and the filling will seep down underneath the pastry and glue itself to your pie plate.
But before you start round two of making your pastry larger, very gently run the palm of one hand over the pastry. It’s sort of amazing how well you can detect the thickness of the pastry just by touch. You want to concentrate your rolling out where the pastry is thicker, making it the same thickness as the rest of it. This will usually malform the round shape even more than it already is, but don’t stress about it.
Be cautious at this point, though. You don’t want to make your pastry so thin that it starts to tear. If you didn’t use enough dough to make your dough ball, do what you can. I’ll give you a tip on how to repair it later.
When you’ve got your dough rolled out to your satisfaction, set the rolling pin aside and get out a spatula. Gently but firmly slide the spatula under the edges of the dough, loosening it. If you floured your surface properly, it shouldn’t stick too much. Then use the spatula to pick up one edge of the pastry, slide your hand underneath the pastry to hold it up, and set the spatula aside. Use your hands to very gently double the pastry over so that you’ve sort of made a big taco shell. Then pick up one end of the taco shell shape and gently fold it over again. Don’t crease those folds! You’re only doing this to make it easy to put in the pie shell. You’re going to unfold it in just a moment.
In recipes, this is usually referred to as folding the pastry in quarters or some variation of that phrase. It really is the easiest way to move the pastry into the pie dish without tearing it.
Pick up your folded pastry and lay it down in the appropriate corner of your pie plate so it unfolds to cover the plate. It is incredibly satisfying to unfold the dough and suddenly see that you’ve finished the hardest part of the pie.
Gently press the pastry down so that there aren’t any air bubbles underneath and it lies snugly. Don’t press it so hard that you leave fingerprints in the dough. Pretend it’s a blanket you’re placing over a tiny sleeping baby. Don’t wake the baby.
If all went well, you have a complete piece of pastry with no holes or fissures that completely covers the pie plate and drapes over the edge. If you do have holes, you can repair them. Trim the edges of the pastry even with the rim of the pie plate. I typically do this by tearing, but you can use a paring knife to cut the pieces away. Then tear off a piece just a little bigger than the hole or fissure you need to repair. Then dip one finger in milk and rub the milk on the edges of the hole and on the edges of the repair piece of pastry. Place the repair piece over the hole, milk side to milk side, and gently pat and smooth the pastry together. Again, don’t wake the baby. If you just can’t get the pieces to stick, just do what you can and leave it that way. It’ll be fine.
Now you’ve got the bottom crust in the pie plate. Look at you, making a homemade pie crust! Good job. Pour the entire bowlful of berries you prepared earlier into the pie plate and use a spoon or rubber spatula to distribute the filling evenly. All you have to do now is make the top layer of the crust, and you’re practically an expert by now. I promise it’ll go faster this time.
Before you take the second dough ball from the fridge, use one hand to sweep all the flour on your floured surface into a pile, then sweep the pile off the edge of the surface into your other hand. You know, just like you do when you’re getting toast crumbs off the counter, but in this case it’s just clean flour. It’ll probably be a good big handful which you can use to re-flour the counter. Add a little more flour if necessary, and make sure you flour your rolling pin and remove any pieces of dough from it too.
Then get your second dough ball from the fridge and do this all over again. This piece doesn’t need to be as big, but try to make it about the same thickness as the bottom crust. Roll it out, fold it gently into quarters, and place the folded-up pastry on the pie and unfold it to cover the filling. Pull or off cut the excess pieces hanging over the edges. You don’t need to repair holes in your dough for the top crust, since you’ll be cutting slits in the dough soon. If you have a really big hole, stick a repair piece of dough over it but don’t bother to glue it on with milk.
You do need to sort of fasten the top and bottom pastry pieces together, though, and the best way to do this is by crimping them together. This looks nice and keeps the dough from separating. My aunt can crimp her pie crusts so that they look almost machine made and professional, but I’m not that good at it, probably because I don’t need to do it often. My ordinary pie plate has a scalloped rim so I just press the two layers of dough together in the scallops and leave it at that. But for my deep-dish pie plate, I crimp the edges.
This is how I do it. It may not be the most efficient way, but it works for me. I use both hands. I’m right-handed, so I use my left index finger to hold the dough in place while my right index finger and thumb crimp the dough. That is, I press the top of my left index finger—basically just the fingernail—gently against the side of the dough to hold it in place. Then I pinch the two layers of dough together right in front of my left finger, using a sort of twisting motion to push my right fingertip forward toward me slightly and my right thumb slightly away from me. I’m not sure if that makes any sense—it’s a hard motion to explain.
However you do it, sort of smush the edges together one way or another and don’t worry too much. Then you need to get the milk out again. You don’t need much—very, very little, in fact. I usually pour just enough milk into a half-cup measuring cup to barely cover the bottom. Dip a couple of fingers in the milk and rub them across the top pie crust. Do this quickly and don’t put a lot of milk on anywhere, just a quick thin layer. Don’t worry about trying to cover every inch, either. This will help the top of your pie crust brown nicely and give it a little bit of a glaze. Then sprinkle just a little bit of sugar over the top in a thin layer.
You’re almost ready to put this thing in the oven, but you’ve got two more steps. Wait, three. Step one is to get out a baking sheet and set the pie on it. Yes, even if you used a deep-dish pie plate, because if you don’t, the berry juice will sometimes overflow as the pie cooks and you will end up with a real mess in the bottom of your oven. That’s okay, because I really needed to give my oven a good clean anyway. Just maybe not on that particular busy day.
Step two is to cover those edges you crimped so laboriously with tinfoil. You do this because otherwise they’ll brown too much and start to taste burnt. Take a piece of tinfoil that’s about half the size of what you’d use to cover a large mixing bowl and tear it into three strips. Gently crunch the tinfoil around the edges of the pie plate, covering the crimped edges of the pastry and usually part of the pie itself. These tinfoil pieces are a pain and tend to fall off, but get them on as well as you can. It helps to scrunch their ends together.
The final step is to cut slits in the top crust. You do this to release steam as the pie cooks. If you don’t, the steam will either punch holes in your crust where it’s thinnest, will separate your crimped edges where they don’t quite match up, or—if you’ve made the pastry strong and crimped it together well—it’ll just blow up your top crust like a balloon, leaving a big air pocket that looks very odd although it doesn’t affect the flavor.
You can cut the slits in any pattern you like. Traditionally you just go around the middle cutting a slit about an inch long every few inches. I also like to cut my initial into the very middle of my pie, so the letter K looks like it has rays of light shining from it, if you interpret ‘rays of light’ to mean ‘slits in a top pie crust.’ If you want to see a picture of this, check the show notes. It’s pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself.
Put the baking sheet with the pie plate on it into the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes. This is a good time to clean off the counter and get all the flour up.
When the timer goes off, open the oven and remove the tinfoil. The best way to do this is to use metal tongs, either salad tongs or those tongs you use to flip meat when you’re grilling out. But I admit I usually end up using a doubled-over hot pad to pinch them off and yank them out of the oven.
Then set the timer for another 25 minutes. When it goes off again, take the pie out of the oven and set it on the stove to cool. Look at that! Look at that beautiful pie! Take a bunch of pictures and post them to Instagram. Post them to Facebook too so your grandma sees how awesome a cook you are these days. Post one to Twitter with an ironic comment. Basically, you want the whole world to see your pie and be impressed, because it looks like it was incredibly hard to make. But you and I both know it was easy.
I won’t say it. YES I WILL! It was easy as pie!
It’s best to let the pie cool before serving it. Not only will the filling burn your mouth like molten lava when it’s freshly out of the oven, it’s also very runny until it cools. As it cools, the filling sets and turns into a sort of berry-filled jam. I can never wait that long, though. If you make this for a meal with others, make it first so it has plenty of time to cool before you serve it. It’s fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
It keeps well in the fridge for several days.
Thanks for listening! You can find Real Life Cooking Podcast at reallifecooking.blubrry.net. That’s blueberry without any E’s. We also have a Patreon page at patreon.com/reallifecooking, where you can sign up for as low as one dollar a month for bonus episodes.
Now get out there and enjoy your food.