Wednesday, 28 September 2016
About this time last year my mum called me to tell me she'd had a bumper crop of mulberries. She'd freeze them for my next visit, she said, so we could make pie, a favourite dessert of mine from childhood. For anyone who grew up in Brisbane like me, mulberries will be a major memory. The sprawling trees were found in most backyards, their leaves fed the silkworms we had as our first pets, their berries stained school uniforms and little fingers purple... no matter how many items of clothing you ruined you could never resist. They were delicious. Sweet, fat and juicy. Perfect for pie. Mum never used a recipe so in her absence I cobbled together one from two excellent sources - Bill Granger for pastry, and Smitten Kitchen for filling (those Americans know what they're doing with berries). Technically I suppose this is more of a galette than a pie as it's free-form and open, but I was teaching my dad how to make it and I knew he'd never be bothered rolling out two lots of dough, let alone sealing and crimping a crust. The proportion of pastry to fruit is better too, and without a lid you get to see the berries in all their beauty. I'd been up to Brisbane many times since Mum died, but not been able to face the freezer. But a new crop of mulberries had appeared on the tree since last November. It was time. Mum picked these berries. I made the pie. So it was a joint effort. I like to think we did it together.
Adapted from two recipes, by Bill Granger and Deb Perelman
If you don't have mulberries, you could certainly use other berries for this - blackberries would work well.
3-4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt
250g (2 cups) flour
2 teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar
4-5 tablespoons very cold water
1 egg, beaten and mixed with 1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon raw sugar (or whatever coarse grain sugar you have - just not fine)
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar and butter together til mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the cold water in increments and pulse til pastry forms a ball - you may not need all the water. Tip out onto counter, pat into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
Roll out pastry and place it on a greased pizza tray, allowing it to fall over the sides. Make sure there's a bit of an overhang.
Mix all filling ingredients together and pile into the centre of the pastry, spreading it out over the base. Fold edges of pastry over it. You're not looking for neatness here - go with the rustic flow of it all. Brush exposed pastry with egg mixture and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes or til golden all over.
Serve warm with ice-cream or cream.