Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Celebrating my officemate...with PIE!

Today is my dear friend and officemate's birthday, and even though we're going to have a bigger celebration later on this month (because it's a very significant birthday, ending in ZERO!), I thought it only right that we have small workplace gathering at lunchtime.

I love to make treats to share with Lee Ann, but when it comes to her birthday, she always throws a wrench into the plans because she doesn't like cake. In fact, when she got married, she had an ice cream sundae bar instead of a wedding cake! Tee hee. But she loves pie, so that's what I thought I'd make for her.

Because I had to cook on a school night--after getting home from choir practice at 9pm--I had to take some shortcuts. I started with frozen pie crusts (ACK!) which I tried to partially blind-bake (as juicy berry pies can often make the bottom crust soft), but I accidentally baked them all the way! What to do, what to do? Then I had a flash of genius: maybe I could make the filling on the stovetop, then add the crumbly topping and bake just long enough to brown the top? Well, folks, I'm pleased to report that it worked like a charm, and I think this is how I will make berry pies from this point forward!

Stovetop Triple Berry Pie

1 pie shell, blind-baked until pale golden brown

Fruit Filling:
4 cups frozen berries (blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons quick tapioca
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crumb Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds or walnuts
6 tablespoons softened butter
pinch of cinnamon

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, cook the berries, sugar, and lemon juice with the corn starch and tapioca until it comes to a boil and the mixture fully thickens, stirring frequently so that it doesn't scorch. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Pour this mixture into the baked pie shell.

Mix the crumb topping ingredients with a pastry blender, breaking up the nuts as you go. Pile the crumbly topping evenly on top of the pie. Cover the edge with a pie shield or tin foil and bake about 40 minutes at 350 until the filling is bubbling up and the topping is GB-n-D. Let cool for at least two hours before cutting and serving.

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