California Olallieberry Pie & The Barefoot Contessa's Perfect Pie Crust (With a little help from King Arthur Flour)

My husband has been nurturing an olallieberry plant that we purchased about four years ago at Linn's Farmstore in Cambria, California.  I took these photos a little over two weeks ago. Craig's green thumb has paid off, because there are a lot of berries.  The lower right shot is taken from the steep hill where he planted the bush. We do love our panoramic view of the Salinas Valley!

Yesterday, Craig said that the berries were ready and there were lots of them.  "Yeah, yeah", I thought, as I honked into some tissues-- thanks to the tail end of a summer cold.  This morning, I slept in (yes for vacations) and Craig had gone off to work.  This is what I found by the coffee maker, when I woke up...

Is this a subtle hint?

My husband loves berry pie. He especially loves olallieberries.  For those of you who can't find them where you live, I'm so sorry.  They are a cross between a loganberry and youngberry, which has are also crossed to blackberries, raspberries and dewberries.  To me, they taste like a blackberry, with a bit of tartness like a raspberry.  Pie making is something I love to do, so I smiled at his note.   After years of experimenting, I have finally found my groove in rolling perfect pie crusts, crimping them baking them to a tender and flaky golden brown.

Barefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family 
I've also tried many pie crusts recipes, but I hadn't tried Ina Garten's recipe, yet.  I'm with Ina-- if I can use my food processor, rather than elbow grease, I'm in!  If you have made tough pie crusts, or feel you can't work with a rolling pin please sit back and watch. I hope to show you the techniques and tricks that I've finally mastered.  It's really very simple as long as you use quality ingredients and you keep the butter and shortening ice cold.  Trust me, this makes all the difference in the world!  I only use King Arthur Unbleached Flour. No, they don't sponsor me (I wish they did).  If you knew how bleached flour is made, you'd never touch it again. Spend an extra couple of dollars, and you won't regret it. I also buy organic vegetable shortening at Whole Foods. Why?  Because many people get the heebie jeebies over the "other" brand.  I do believe that shortening is a key component to flaky pie crusts. So, let's go!  First, the pie crust:

As you can see, I own Ina's cookbooks. All of them. Her pie crust recipe is in her Barefoot Contessa Family Style. You need to dice 12 Tablespoons  unsalted butter and 1/3 cup vegetable shortening. Keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. You want it very cold. You also need ice water.

You can use a pastry cutter. I have one. Want it? Seriously, my food processor is 30 years old and still going strong and it works great for cutting pastry dough.  For the dry ingredients, you want 3 cups of unbleached flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Pulse it to mix.  Now add the cold butter and cold shortening. Pulse it in short bursts (about 12 times) until the butter is the size of peas.    With the machine running, pour the ice water (not tap water cold, but refrigerator-with-ice cubes-cold) down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball (bottom photo, top left)

Dump the dough out on a floured board and roll into a ball.Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Whatever you do, don't skip the step in allowing the dough to rest.  This is how you increase your success in making a tender and flaky pie crust.  So, now for the berries. I have an assortment of deep dish pie plates, but I wasn't sure that I had enough berries to fill one. I grabbed an ancient pie plate that is a lot more shallow and smaller.

We've had an unusually wet winter, and our summer has gotten off to an unusually slow start.  Craig didn't add the irrigation system to the top of our hill, until recently. I think that's why the berries are a little smaller than usual and a little more on the tart side, rather than sweet. I ate one, and I puckered up. Whoa!
I want to give kudos to a nice little product that I buy from the King Arthur Website.  It's called Instant ClearJel.  I've used this product as a thickener for berry crisps, berry puff turnovers and fruit pies.  I find that using flour or cornstarch isn't my #1 choice as a fruit pie thickener. It doesn't cloud the fruit and it works great!  I'm sold on that product, but I think I'd go with cornstarch as my thickener as my substitute.  I wasn't sure how much Clearjel I should use, so I made a phone call to the King Arthur Flour Baker's Hot Line and I got "Frank". Nice guy!  His suggestion is that I use 3-4 tablespoons of Clearjel for 8 cups of berries-- which is what I ended up with.  Otherwise, I'd be inclined to try about 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch or tapioca  for the filling.  If you're not sure, call King Arthur Flour! They are very helpful, indeed.

You want to add the thickener to the sugar and whisk it. Pour it over the berries. I know this looks like a lot of sugar. If your berries are sweeter, than reduce it.  I added about 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and a pinch of kosher salt.  It might sound weird, but salt does bring out the sweetness more. Really!  Set the berries aside.

For the crust: My "must have" tools for pie crusts are a rolling mat (I've had this tupperware one for years and years).  I put a damp cloth underneath so it "sticks" to the counter.  I prefer a French rolling pin,because I feel I have better hand control   You can use a traditional one, but if you get the hang of using one of these, you won't want to use anything else.  Sprinkle the mat (or board) with a little flour. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut it in half. Here's what finally solved my dilemma with mangled pie crusts... roll from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Roll, turn, roll, turn. Duh!  I can remember having stuck pie dough that I'd tear, trying to remove from the board.  Roll, turn, roll, turn.  I'm telling you, it works every single time!

At first, I decided to use my smaller glass pie dish.  I'm showing you how much overhang I like.  Ready for my fool-proof technique in how to transfer the pie crust onto the plate?  Lay the rolling pin at the edge of the pie crust, and roll it over the pin. I don't like to fold the crust in half and then unfolding it over the pie plate. I've broken a few too many crusts this way.  This is now my favorite technique. It works so well...

This is a glass dish, so you have to look hard. See? There's one problem, though. I changed my mind and decided to switch to the larger pie dish. I just picked up the dough the same way and...

Whoops!  This pie plate is a bit large.  No worries. I'll just make a larger top crust and seal the two together....

Before adding the berries, I poked a few holes on the bottom crust.  I'm glad I switched to the larger pie plate, because I had plenty of berries. The berries didn't macerate too much, so you're seeing sugar. I'm sure it's fine. Before I lifted the top crust, I decided to cut a few holes with a Linzer Cookie Cutter.  So, now you see me applying the top crust.  Crimping... I used to feel totally incompetent, at first.  It's actually quite easy. First, I tucked the overhang of the top crust under and then sealed the two crusts together.

This crimp technique is so easy.  I use my left hand index finger as a guide, and then  push in with my right index and thumb to create this crimp.

This looks fancy, but it's very easy.
The oven is preheated to 375F.  I decided to take two more steps...totally optional....
I decide to whisk one egg with a splash of water and do an egg wash over the pie. This leaves a beautiful golden color to the crust.  I have one more extra....

I use Sparkling White Sugar on my turnovers and sugar cookies. I love that extra crunch, plus it really has a pretty sparkle.  I decided it would be a nice touch to the berry pie.

50 minutes later...

...a nice golden color. I use a pie shield to prevent the crust for darkening too much. You could fold aluminum fold... but you know me, I'm a gadget junkie.

Cool for 2-4 hours.

So, is this the pie crusts of pie crust? It's time to cut a slice (son is waiting in the background)...

Note to self: I'd love to have a pie dam, so that the fruit doesn't run all over the plate.

 The Clearjel worked great. (Thanks, Frank!)

Here's my taste.  Chew.  Flavor buds connect with the brain.... just a moment. I need one more thing...

Much better...

VERDICT:    The pie is just slightly warm.  The pie crust is tender. The olallieberries are sweet, with just a slight note of tart.  The sugar ratio is perfect.  My son and I both like the crunch of the sugar. It's a big hit for Brian.  I'm really not a huge pie fan; I bake them for my husband, because he appreciates it.  I'm now a pie crust fan! That little bit of sugar, the butter and a bit of shortening creates a pie crust that doesn't taste like... baked paste. Know what I mean?  I'm telling you, Ina Garten delivers for me every time.
I just bought some freshly picked rhubarb and strawberries. Guess what I'm making tomorrow?

 Right back at ya, Sweetie!

I seriously hope that I've inspired you fearful bakers to try baking a pie, from scratch. I really don't need to buy frozen pie crusts anymore, now that I've practiced a few times. You can't buy a pie crust like this. By the way, you can make the pie crust dough a few days ahead of time. You can even freeze them!  So, skip the freezer section at the grocery store. Try this! You'll impress your friends and family. Trust me. Trust Ina! Trust King Arthur Flour!  

The printable recipe is at the bottom of this post.

Happy Summer! 

                                Olallieberry Pie & The Barefoot Contessa's Perfect Pie Crust Recipe     There are really two recipes here. First, Ina Garten shares how to make perfect pie crust with a combination of unsalted butter and shortening (I buy organic shortening at Whole Foods). The secret is in keeping the ingredients ice cold! I'll show you ...             See Olallieberry Pie & The Barefoot Contessa's Perfect Pie Crust Recipe on Key Ingredient.    

JUMP to my blog site to view and print these recipes, please!

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