Tuesday, June 28, 2022

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.

Mulberry Pies

Makes 12 muffin tray-sized pies, or 1 large pie (I bake mine in a springform cake pan).

Mulberry Filling:

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

Pie Pastry:

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

Preheat the oven to 350'F.

For the filling: 

Heat the fruits and sugar over medium heat in a saucepan till juice starts to flow. Cook at a simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer the fruit to a bowl with a slotted spoon (or strain it). Cook all the saved juice till syrupy. Pour the syrup over the berries and cool. 

For the pastry: 

Beat the butter and sugar till smooth, light and fluffy. Add the egg, 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 the first pastry ball out thinly.

For a large pie:

Transfer the pastry on your rolling pin to your springform pan, and drape it inside, making sure it comes up the sides and drapes over, slightly. Patch any tears. Add the cool filling. Roll out the second, smaller ball of pastry and cover the pie. Crimp the edges together and cut some slits of steam. 

For muffin-tray pies:

Cut out individual circles to line the muffin tray. I use 3.75-inch cutters to line the tray,  and 2.5-inch cutters for the pie lids. Add cooled filling, and the lids. Crimp, and slit a steam vent in each.

Baking time varies. For a large tart, about 35 - 40  minutes. For small pies, check after 15 minutes. Either way, leave the pies in their baking pan or trays for 10 minutes before unmolding or removing - they are fragile while hot.

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