The Perfect Pie for Less-Than-Perfect Berries

I’d never cook a perfect pint of raspberries. Eating them raw really is the best way to appreciate their sweet-tart charm.

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The Perfect Pie for Less-Than-Perfect Berries
Melissa Clark
, New York Times

I’d never cook a perfect pint of raspberries. Eating them raw really is the best way to appreciate their sweet-tart charm.

But those sad-looking berries squashed on the way home from the farmers market? Baking them into a pie might be their last chance to shine before the compost bucket beckons.

Raspberries can find a place in practically any sweet pie, but they go especially well with succulent peaches, which have a mellowness that tames the berries’ acidity.

Berries with a similar tang, like strawberries and blackberries, will also work nicely, though you can just as easily use the plump blueberries that ended up at the bottom of your tote bag under some potatoes. Just add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to perk them up.

As for the peaches, the question of peeling inevitably arises whenever I add them to a pie. I don’t mind the peels, so I leave them on. But if fuzz gets you down, take it off with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Or substitute smooth-skinned nectarines. In any case, use the juiciest fruit you can find. I like to buy my stone fruit a few days before making my pie, giving everything a chance to ripen.

Another thing you can do a few days in advance is make the pie dough. After baking pies out of cookbooks by Stella Parks and Erin McDowell, I’ve been skipping the food processor and using my hands, delighting in the excuse to plunge my fingers into a bowl of butter and flour. I find I get a slightly flakier result without a machine, which can over-process the butter. But feel free to use your favorite pie dough recipe, or a good brand of store-bought dough, preferably one made with butter.

A raspberry’s character can be ephemeral when baked into a pie, so I add a little raspberry jam to the filling in place of some of the sugar. The jam adds both sweetness and depth of flavor. It’s not a loud presence, but it subtly enhances what’s there.

Then I keep the other seasonings delicate: a touch of lemon zest, a sprinkle of nutmeg and a little brown sugar, just enough to round things out. Fresh summer fruit — even raspberries on their very last legs — won’t need much help.

Peach Raspberry Pie

Yield: 8 servings

Total time: 2 1/4 hours, plus chilling

For the crust:

2 1/2 cups/320 grams all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Large pinch of sugar

1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), cold and cut into cubes

2/3 cup/158 milliliters ice water, more if needed

For the filling:

1/4 cup/60 milliliters raspberry jam

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup/50 grams granulated sugar

1/4 cup/55 grams light brown sugar

1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons minute (instant) tapioca

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

5 cups/770 grams thinly sliced peaches (about 6 to 8 medium peaches)

1 pint/245 grams raspberries

1 large egg

1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt and sugar to combine. Add cubed butter, then pinch and squeeze the butter cubes (or use a pastry blender) until the largest pieces are the size of lima beans. Drizzle in water a little at a time, mixing until the dough starts to come together into a mass, but leaving some floury bits at the bottom of the bowl. You may not need all the water, or you may need to add more water if dough doesn’t come together.

2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and press and lightly knead it together into 2 smooth balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour or up to 5 days.

3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place a 9-inch pie pan on a baking sheet. On a floured surface, roll out larger ball of dough to a 12-inch circle, then drape it over the pie pan and press it into the bottom edges and along the sides. Chill in refrigerator.

4. Roll second ball of dough out to an 11-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough into 1-inch strips and reserve. (If it’s cool in your kitchen, leave the strips on the counter. If it’s warm, transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet and chill until needed.)

5. In a small bowl, stir together raspberry jam and melted butter.

6. In a large bowl, stir together sugars, tapioca, nutmeg, lemon zest and salt. Toss in peaches, then gently fold in raspberries.

7. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash. Brush on bottom and sides of pie dough in the pan, then spoon filling into pie pan, mounding it slightly in the center. Drizzle with jam-butter mixture.

8. Use dough strips to create a lattice top, then fold and crimp the edges. Brush with more egg wash, place pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbly, 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. (If you don’t want to wait, that’s fine, but filling will be runnier.)

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