I like a slice of a fruit and berry pie with my lunch. I used to buy the pies but never really found a store-bought pie that was satisfactory. They were always “gelatiny.” I like to bake, but always thought that pie baking would be difficult and time consuming; I like to take the easy road when it comes to cooking and baking.
To meet my needs, I had to find a better way. The result is the following recipe.
Fruit & Berry Pie
Preparation takes but a few minutes and you don’t need great baking skills to be successful with this recipe. This makes a nice 9-inch pie.
The recipe uses the following ingredients:
- 3 10- to 12-ounce bags of frozen fruit and/or berries completely defrosted and at room temperature (see comments below for suggestions regarding the fruit/berries); do not use fresh fruit with this recipe
- 1 package of prepared pie crusts (2 crusts — a top and bottom — are usually found in a package) at room temperature
- ¾ to 1 cup of sugar (depends on your taste and the fruit/berries used; I like the pies to be less sweet and so rarely ever use more than ¾ cup)
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 4½ tablespoons of instant tapioca (do not use pearl-style; something like Minute Tapioca® works best)
That’s all the ingredients.
II. Choosing the Fruit & Berries
Before going further, let’s discuss the fruit and berry mixture. You can go wild here. You can use an already prepared berry mix, which usually has a mix of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries (or similar combination), or you can create your own mix or you can use just a single fruit or berry type (e.g., only raspberries).
I happen not to be a fan of raspberries, so I try to avoid them. Carolyn, however, loves raspberries, so when she wants, I make a raspberry pie for her. I prefer black cherries, so I often mix black cherries with other fruits and berries. Some of the combinations I have made and have enjoyed are these (numbers indicate the number of bags used):
- peach (1), pineapple (1), and blueberry (1)
- peach (1), pineapple (1), and black cherry (1)
- blueberry (2) and pineapple (1)
- blueberry (3)
- pineapple (3)
- strawberry (1), blueberry (1), and black cherry (1)
- black cherry (3)
- peach (1) and black cherry (2)
- strawberry (1), blueberry (1), and peach (1)
- strawberry (1) and peach (2)
- black cherry (2) and pineapple (1)
Experiment with different combinations. Some you will like better than others, but all should be good.
III. Preparing the Filling
- Pour all the fruit, including all the liquid in the bags, into a single bowl and mix with a spoon.
- In a separate small bowl mix the sugar, salt, and tapioca.
- Mix the dry ingredients of Step 2 with the fruit of Step 1. Be sure to mix thoroughly.
- Let the fruit mixture of Step 3 sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes (I usually let it sit for 60 to 90 minutes). Stir the mixture a few times. I usually stir the mix every 15 to 20 minutes.
IV. Preparing the Pie Crust
The recipe makes a generous 9-inch pie. Use a 9-inch pie tin or plate; I like a glass pie plate but I have also used the aluminum pie tins you can buy at the grocery. If you use a disposable pie tin, I have found the nonstick ones work best.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- While the oven is reaching temperature, take 1 of the pie crusts and carefully unroll it while holding it in the air. If you lay it down, it may well tear or fall apart when you try to pick it up.
- Once it is unrolled, lay it in the pie plate/tin. Try to lay it so that a roughly equal amount of the crust folds over the entire rim of the pie plate. This is difficult to do so don’t worry too much as long as the crust is covering the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
- Gently press the crust into the ridge where the side and the bottom of the pie plate meet.
- Take a fork and prick the pie crust numerous times over the bottom and the side.
- IF YOU HAVE pie weights, place them on the bottom crust and when the oven reaches temperature, put the pie plate in the oven for about 3 minutes to cook the bottom crust a little bit. IF YOU DO NOT have pie weights, skip this step.
V. Adding the Filling and the Top Crust
Now it is time to get the pie ready for baking.
- Give the fruit mixture one final stir and then spoon the fruit and some of the liquid into the pie plate. You want to create a mound that is higher in the center than at the edge. Do not make it level because there will be more fruit and liquid than the crust can hold and liquid will boil over. Mounding helps prevent the boiling over. DO NOT include 100% of the liquid in the fruit mix bowl; DO include all of the fruit pieces. You know when there is enough liquid included when you can see the liquid near the top of the rim of the pie plate.
- When done adding the fruit mixture, unroll the second pie crust. Like the first, do not lay it down. When it is unrolled, lay it over the top if the pie. Try to get an even amount of the crust over the entire rim. This is difficult and close is good enough as long as the entire pie is covered.
- Now you need to fold the edges of the top and bottom crusts together. It is best to fold the bottom over the top and toward the pie. Pinch the crusts together to make a sealed edge. I use the flat edge (side) of a butter knife to help me lift the edge of the bottom crust away from the pie plate. You may not make the neatest edge, but that doesn’t matter — the taste will still be great!
- Once the edges of the two crusts are folded together, take a fork and pierce the top crust in numerous places. Make a pattern of some type, if you wish, because these pricks will be visible when the pie is baked. Be sure to pierce the top crust through to the filling. These pricks act as steam vents and help prevent the liquid in the filling from boiling over (and causing a mess).
The pie is now ready for baking.
VI. The Final Steps
- When the oven reaches temperature and the pie is ready for baking, place the pie plate on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil (preferably the nonstick type). It is much easier to throw away aluminum foil than to clean the oven in the event of boilover. This I know from experience.
- Place the pie in the oven and set the timer for 45 minutes.
- At the 45-minute mark, take a look at the pie. The crust should be a golden brown. If it is, the pie is done; if it is not, give it another 5 minutes, but no more. Be sure to look at the edge where the top and bottom crusts were brought together. You don’t want it to burn. If the edge is already well done (not burned), take the pie out — don’t add any time. If the edge is brown but not close to burning, you can add the additional 5 minutes but keep an eye on the baking pie.
- Let the pie cool before cutting and serving.
That’s it. There seems like a lot of work to do, but there really isn’t. I tried to cover every detail for those who have little to no experience making and baking pies. The actual active time is less than 15 minutes; most of the time is waiting.
VII. The End
I make these pies regularly. When company is coming to dinner, I make a couple of pies so that they have a choice (and I have leftovers). If no company is coming, I generally make a pie once a week so that I have fresh pie to enjoy. At the holidays, I will make several pies for dessert and a couple of pies that guests can take home.
I am able to do this because this is the easiest recipe for making a fruit and berry pie.
I occasionally like to add Chambord to the fruit mix. I drain some of the liquid from the fruit and replace it with some Chambord, usually 2 to 3 tablespoons, but sometimes less; it depends on how much of the Chambord flavor I want.
If you try the recipe and use a different fruit or fruit combination and like it, let us know. In the meantime, enjoy!
Richard Adin, An American Editor