Now that it’s May, berries are starting to flower and in some cases, pop up in gardens. Strawberry seasons usually begin in May and I’ve heard there is going to be an early blink-and-you-might-miss-it Strawberry season this year. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries will quickly follow, so now is the time to plan on how you’re going to use your berries when they crop up.
Although they’re great on their own, my vote for berries is to grab a few cups of your favourites and use them in a tart or pie. It’s the perfect spring dessert, and there are so many different ways to make berry pies that you’ll be busy baking all spring and summer.
If you’re heading out to a Farmer’s Market or your local fruit stand, be sure to pick up some of the early berries that are available and use them in a pie. Here are two great berry pie recipes to get you started.
Vanilla Bourbon Cherry Blueberry Pie
I never would have thought to use bourbon in a pie, but once you try this recipe, you’ll see its perfect with cherries and blueberries. Photo and recipe from Halfbakedharvest.com.
1/3 cup almond flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cold water
2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted
1 pound fresh blueberries
3/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed from the pod
Zest from 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten
Demerara sugar or granulated sugar, for
Pulse the almond flour, granulated sugar, salt, and all-purpose flour in a large food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Whisk egg yolks with 1/4 cup ice water in a small bowl and then add the eggs to the flour mixture. Pulse, drizzling in more ice water as needed (no more than 1 tablespoon at a time), until dough just comes together (a few dry spots are ok).
Gently knead dough on a lightly floured surface until no dry spots remain, about 1 minute. Divide dough in half. Shape each piece into a circle disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter 5 minutes to soften. Meanwhile grease a 9-inch pie plate and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round. Carefully transfer the crust into the prepared pie plate. Lift up the edges and allow the dough to sink down into the dish. Trim edges to even out crust if needed, then prick the bottom of the dough with a fork a few times.
Now grab the remaining dough disk and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round.
Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a small star cookie cutter, a 3/4 inch diameter pastry tip or cookie cutter, punch out holes, leaving a half inch border free of holes along the outside edges. Place the dough in the fridge.
In a large bowl toss together the cherries. blueberries, coconut sugar, cornstarch, bourbon, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds and zest of 1 lemon. Toss well to coat making sure everything is well mixed. Spoon the filling into the prepared pie plate. Make sure to scrape in all the good juices left in the bowl!
Grab the pie dough in the fridge and carefully lift the parchment paper and place it right over top of the pie. Push the edges of the top crust into the pie plate and then crimp the edges of the bottom crust together with the top crust. You can crimp fancy or crimp simple…I went with simple.
Brush the top crust with egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Chill pie until crust is firm, about 30 minutes.
Place pie on a baking sheet and bake until crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake until juices are bubbling and crust is deep golden brown, about 50–60 minutes longer. If the crust is getting too brown, tent with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before slicing.
Deep dish berry tart
If you’ve ever turned down a piece of berry tart or pie because it falls apart on the plate, this is the recipe for you. It takes a tart crust and wraps it around a spring form pan so it holds all of the wonderful berry goodness together. Photo and recipe from Sprinklebakes.com.
1 cup salted butter or margarine, softened
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Berry pie filling:
6 – 7 1/2 cups fresh berries or frozen berries thawed and patted dry. You can use blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, or just a combination of whatever you choose.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp. water for egg wash
1-2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter or margarine and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add flour and 1/4 cup of sugar. Mix until a soft dough forms.
Shape dough into a flat disk and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 15-20 minutes. Cut dough into thirds and wrap 1/3 in plastic wrap. return it to the refrigerator to chill.
On a well-floured surface, knead remaining dough together. Roll dough with a floured rolling pin. Gently lay dough inside spring-form pan and press up the sides. Place dough-lined pan in the freezer and freeze until dough is stiff. Next, prepare the berry mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Remove 1/4 cup of this mixture and sprinkle over the bottom of the tart crust (be sure to return pan to the freezer).
Add berries to the remaining mixture and toss gently to coat. Remove tart crust from freezer and pour in berries. Return to freezer while you roll out the remaining 1/3 of reserved dough.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll remaining 1/3 dough portion on a well floured surface. Cut into strips with a pizza cutter or knife. Place dough strips on top the berry mixture forming a lattice and cut off excess with a knife.
Brush lattice top with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes at 375, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes longer, then place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the tart to prevent over browning. Bake for 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool. Chill overnight.
If you only make one dessert this weekend, make it a berry pie or tart. Be sure to visit Best Buy for kitchen supplies to get you started.