It's been a while. Like, more than two-and-a-half-years-a-while. So long, I can't even remember how to use Blogger.
What would have me coming back to write a pie blog after all this time? Why, the greatest of state fairs, the Iowa State Fair! (Really, it is. I have a t-shirt that says so.)
Today was the last day of the 2016 state fair, and I'm feeling a little sad, as I always do once the fair is over for the year. To cheer myself up, I turned to pie. Because pie fixes everything. (Really, it does. I have another t-shirt that says so.)
The pie I turned to was black raspberry, the one I entered in the fair yesterday. It won 3rd place in the division "A Pie Story", sponsored and judged by Kate Lebo, author of Pie School and A Commonplace Book of Pie. For the contest, entrants were required to bake a pie and write a story (fiction or nonfiction) somehow related to the pie. My third place finish garnered a personally autographed copy of Pie School, as well as an Oxo pie plate and Le Creuset pie bird, both compliments of Kitchen Collage in Des Moines.
It has been three years since I entered pies in the state fair, but doing so has me excited at the prospect (keyword) of continuing to write Pie on Sunday. So to celebrate this grand "re-opening", I am sharing with you the recipe and the story that landed another ribbon at the fair.
This is a true story…
Black raspberry. The pie I was called to. You know, the one that whispers ever so gently, “YOU, _(insert name)_, will be a pie maker after all!”
My confirmation call came eleven years ago in a not-so-gentle shout. It was a hot, steamy July morning – it’s always those hot summer days, isn’t it? Just a few years prior, I had discovered a large patch of wild black raspberries along the trail in the woods near my house, where my yellow lab and I took our daily morning walk. Thinking I had found a special treasure, each morning I would carefully collect a small container of berries and freeze them until I had enough for a pie. But on this day, there was one slight difference…
I was hot, and pregnant, and did I mention hot? Rather than dress in long pants and long sleeves to protect myself from the berry brambles and potential poison ivy as I otherwise did, I instead braved the elements in shorts and a t-shirt. When I came out of the berry patch, I was quite pleased with myself, for I had a substantial gathering of delicious, stain-your-fingers-purple black raspberries. The next morning, however, I realized I had something else: Itching. Lots of it. All over the lower half of my legs.
I soon recalled that I had gone into those berry brambles unprotected. I was certain I must have come into contact with poison ivy, so after a quick internet search on what to do, I ran to the drug store and bought out their supply of calamine lotion and Zanifel, that abrasive wash that is supposed to scrub out the oil the poison ivy leaves behind. Wow, was that painful! Especially after it didn’t work.
The next day I presented my legs to my doctor, who announced, “My dear, that is not from poison ivy. Those are chigger bites – and the worst case I have ever seen.” Those nasty little mites were making railroad tracks all over the lower half of my legs at this point – not to mention causing the most intense itching and torture I had ever experienced – so my doctor prescribed an insecticidal cream to take care of them. But that didn’t work either! As the railroad tracks began climbing farther and farther up my legs, I wondered what other parts of my body were in danger. So once again I pleaded with my doctor to make it stop, and he prescribed a steroid pack, which finally did the trick. Chiggers be gone!
I have never had another experience quite like that one, the summer the chiggers turned my legs into a roadmap. Mostly because I made sure of it, by never picking black raspberries (or anything else, for that matter) in the wild again. In fact, my husband, having just suffered his own miserable experience with a hot and tortured pregnant woman, planted a black raspberry patch in our backyard immediately the next year.
And that, my friends, is how I was called, for better or worse, to black raspberry.
Yours in pie,
Black Raspberry Pie
3 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp. salt
1 c. lard
6 to 7 T. ice water
In mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Using pastry blender, cut lard into flour mixture until pieces are size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 T. of ice water at a time over part of flour mixture and stir gently with a fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl; repeat until all the dough is moistened. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball. Roll out and ease 1 crust into pie pan. Roll out second half for top crust.
4 c. frozen black raspberries, partially thawed
1 c. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. tapioca
Dash of salt
1 T. butter
Combine sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, and salt; pour over berries and combine gently. Let stand 15 minutes. Transfer to 9-inch crust. Dot the top of filling with butter. Lay on top crust, seal edges, and apply decorative pieces. Brush crust with milk; sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Cover edges with foil to prevent over-browning. Bake on middle rack at 400° for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350° and bake another 45-50 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and filling is bubbly in center. Cool on wire rack.