When I was growing up my mom would always let us choose what kind of cake we wanted for our birthday and my choice was always the same, no cake for me, I wanted pie. Not just any pie, but Blackberry Pie or Marionberry Pie. I love most all pie, but Marionberry (basically a seedless blackberry) is so far above the rest it almost isn’t fair to the rest of the pies.
My grandfather has a wonderful garden and he grew a type of blackberry that was actually a cross between a blackberry and a logan berry that he called a “Cascade Berry” which was a seedless berry, that was not too sweet and perfect for pies. We had some of the vines in our backyard as well, but eventually my grandparents passed away and my parents sold the house that had the berry vines so I began experimenting with other berries to recreate the pie of my dreams. Eventually I stumbled upon the Marionberry which I learned is actually a descendant of the Cascade Berry and gets it’s name from the area it was developed, Marion County, Oregon, just south of Portland.
Now I am able to find Marionberries in the freezer section of the better grocery stores here in the Pacific Northwest. In the summer, you can buy them from the local Farmer’s Market and Fruit Stands. If you are using frozen berries, choose the best quality you can find, preferably organic individually frozen berries.
As with many of the recipes I post, I use rather old fashioned techniques, including a pie crust that only uses shortening. I have experimented with every combination of butter only, butter and shortening, shortening only, etc. and the consensus is always that the “shortening only crusts” are the most tender, flaky and flavorful. My exprience with butter, the crust tends to become a bit tougher.
I also slightly pre-cook my berries to ensure that they will thicken up. This is something I started doing a few years ago and since that time, my pies always turn out perfectly. In the past, I ended up with “pie soup” a few times. Pie that tasted great, but basically had to be served over ice cream because the filling was so “soupy” it didn’t hold up when the pie was sliced. I like a full pie with filling with enough body that it will hold up when sliced, but not so set that it resembles a gelatin. Here is the real trick to success, but be prepared because it is the most difficult step, let cool for at least 6 hours or overnight before slicing and serving!
- 6 cups fresh or frozen Marionberries
- 1-3/4 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
In large saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat until berries slightly thicken, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shortening
- 8 – 10 tablespoons ice cold water
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
In large bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening with pastry cutter or two forks until mixture forms clumps the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening dough, using 1 tablespoon of the water at a time, until all the dough is moistened. The amount of water that you use will greatly depend on the temperature and humidity, so don’t worry if you need more or less water than listed. The key is to make sure that the dough is completely moistened without using too much water. Form dough into a ball and divide in half.
Turn half the dough out onto a floured work surface and cover the over half. Roll out the dough using a well flouring rolling pin frequently flipping the dough and re-flouring your work surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking. The goal is to roll it out to a circle that is about 12 inches in diameter. Fold the dough over the rolling pin and lay over a 9″ deep dish pie plate, using the rolling pin to position the dough. Fit into pie plate, pressing together any tears that may have occurred.
Pour the berry filling into the crust, taking care not to overfill.
Transfer the remaining 1/2 of the dough to the floured work surface and repeat the process above for rolling out the crust. Fold over the rolling pin and carefully and gently lay the crust over the filling. Trim any excess dough from the edges and then fold top and bottom crusts under to seal. Using your index and middle finger on top of the crust and thumb underneath, press to flute the edge and thoroughly seal.
Using either crust guards or strips of aluminum foil, cover the edge of the pie crust. Place in oven on center rack for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 25 minutes. Cool on rack for a minimum of 6 hours before serving.
Great with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.