Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mulberry pie

[First published June 2010; updated]

Mulberries...taste of a Bloemfontein childhood, tree-climbing, stained hands and feet, a bowlful for dessert after a midday lunch around a table. In New York I find good mulberries rarely and when I do, they make me tremble. They are best eaten out of hand, or from a bowl with spoon.

But if you have too many? Lucky, lucky you - they make wonderful tarts.

The pastry I use was designated for apple pie in our house, when I was little. Molly Bolt, a friend of my grandmother's in Bloemfontein, circa 1960's, gave her the recipe. It called for margarine! I use butter.

I never met Molly Bolt, but her pastry lives on (it's in my first book, too, in June's serviceberry pie recipe).

The pie  pastry does not need to rest. And it is surprisingly forgiving and versatile. I use it for pies small and large, in a spring-form cake tin, or individual muffin trays, or simply as a flat disk cooked on a baking sheet, to be topped with heaps of your favorite fruit. And: It does not have to be baked blind.

175 gr/6 oz butter
75 gr/2.5 oz sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
300 grams/ 10.5 oz flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt

Beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the egg. Beat again with a dusting of flour. Gradually beat in the rest of the flour, baking powder and salt. For into two balls, and flatten slightly. Dust flour onto a board and roll out thinly.

Line the bottom and sides of a greased, spring form cake tin [or individual slots in a muffin pan in the case of the mulberry tarts], add cooled filling, cut out a pastry disk to cover, crimp the edges in the way you know best, make two slits for steam, and bake in a 350'F/180'C oven till pale golden and crisp. Baking time varies. For a large tart, like apple, about forty-five minutes. For small mulberry pies, check after fifteen minutes.

Mulberry filling for small pies - makes about 8 muffin tray-sized pies, or one large pie.

5 cups mulberries, stalks removed
1 cup raspberries or serviceberries (Amelanchier sp.)
2 Tbsps sugar

Heat the fruit and sugar in a pan till juice starts to flow. Remove fruit  from pan to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Cook the juice till syrupy. Return the syrup to the berries and cool. Use as pie filling or topping for closed or open tarts using Molly Bolt's pastry.

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