Oh man. I’m on a HIGH! And no, it’s not a sugar high – though that would totally be a good guess. It’s more because for the past two or three weeks I’ve been stressed and freaked out about entering the SF Food Wars Pie or Die competition. They put out a call for entries about a month ago, and as I had mentioned in the past, I’m pretty bad at trying to “figure out” what I’m going to bake in advance. But I rallied, pulled out my new favorite not a cookbook cookbook The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dorenburg, cross referenced a few ingredients and came up with this description of my entry: Check(mate) Please! Blackberry Lemon Chess Pie – Backyard home-grown lemons and local blackberries update this Southern classic chess pie with a California twist. Almond scented crust adds a contemporary touch, while a drizzle of berry sauce made with a touch of San Francisco honey adds homey complexity. And they accepted it to compete! Of course, I didn’t have all the logistics figured out on how I was going to pull it off, but I figured it out as I went along, AND on top of that I won – oh did I win! But more on that later…
Let’s back up. The SF Food Wars is an awesome competition that is held once a month (or every other month) for the past year. There have been seven of them so far, and the next one is in September, with salsa as the theme! It’s relatively new and all the proceeds go to the San Francisco Food Bank. It’s free to compete, but (apparently) it’s hard to get chosen. 20 people are chosen to compete and it’s a combination of how unique your entry is, how fast you reply to the call for entries and the vague “enthusiasm factor” for your dish description. According to one of the organizers, apparently they had 50 entries for the 20 slots. Whew! I had no idea it was going to be that competitive to just get picked! Thank goodness I used a lot of exclamation points when I write emails.
So this month’s theme was Pie or Die hosted at the Stable Café in the Mission and organized by the amazing Jeannie Choe. The competition isn’t a bake off (you don’t actually make the pie there in front of people like Top Chef or Iron Chef). Instead you have to prepare pie for about 200+ people to be served up. There are professional judges for the contest, as well as an audience choice award and an award for the photographer’s pick. So basically you have to please the general masses, the food professionals and make sure your presentation is great as well.
I sent out a mass email to friends and they all rallied to try to buy tickets the minute they went on sale. BUT the tickets sold out in 30 seconds flat! THIRTY SECONDS! Insane. My friends are awesome though. A few of them were able to get through and bought tickets – even buying extra tickets knowing that not everyone would get through. I even got an amazing surprise, my friend Miranda, living in Palo Alto who I hadn’t seen since 7th grade and who had recently tracked me down via Facebook totally showed up as well! Unbelievable! All in all, I knew I had a few friends going there who claimed that they would be voting for me, so I wouldn’t be all alone by myself at the bottom of the heap.
That said, I had GRANDIOSE plans to go all out and decorate my space with amazing props (giant Chess pieces! Giant Chess boards! Big signs with chess motif artwork on them!) but that didn’t happen. I sent AJ to go pick up a few things and got a big sign printed but that’s about it. However people seemed impressed with the display, to the point that some competitors asked me if I was a professional or had done this before. Nope. But I want to be! Someone hire me please!
This time ’round I decided to make a few pies in anticipation of the contest – to test them out. I brought them to my friend Anjana’s house the week before for a party they were having and overall the people there seemed to like the pies. But the truth is, you almost never get a REAL honest opinion from your friends. I mean, sure they rave about your baked goods, but they are your friends for a reason! Luckily, my friend Stella is never shy about telling me the truth about my baked goods. “The crust isn’t done. The lemon part needs to be more tart.” Good to know. Good. To. Know.
I adjusted the recipe from the feedback and baked the pies on the day before the contest. I picked a recipe loosely based on my award winning pie from the Urban Eats contest (no, not the blue ribbon one that I blogged about, but the other one that actually won first place in the contest, that I strangely didn’t blog about. Maybe one of these days I will). I tweaked it a bit and went with a blackberry curd instead of a rhubarb strawberry curd. Basically I wanted to make a pie that was custard based and didn’t require double crust. That way I didn’t have to make twice the pie dough, and I didn’t have fuss with weaving a double crust top. As much as I love to weave a top, doing it for 20 pies didn’t sound very fun.
That said, I totally made it more complicated by deciding to put a decorative checkerboard pattern on top of the pie itself with blackberry curd. How did I do that you ask? Well I built a grid out of balsa wood placed the grid on the pie gently and then individually filled every other square and lifted the grid straight up from the pie so I could make even squares on top of the curd. Yes I am that insanely crazy. Talk about tedious. I probably would have been better off making a double crust pie. But oh well.
And what’s was that I was saying about 20 pies? YES, I decided to bake 20 pies. I wanted to make sure that EVERYONE had a chance to taste the pies at the competition. The organizers said the minimum amount you should make for the contest is 70 servings, but the more servings you make, the more people will taste your pie and potentially vote for you. I didn’t want to miss out on any potential vote. I figure 12 serving per pie=240 servings. More than enough. I hoped.
The problem, of course, was after I baked 20 pies I had to figure out how to transport them to the competition! Luckily a Facebook friend totally suggested UPS boxes. GENIUS! I was able to doctor up a few to fit two per box. I love thinking outside the box (or within the box, as it happened to be). Yeah, that’s me about half an hour before we were suppose to show up frantically trying to assemble and doctor boxes.
Turns out I was fine with the number of pies I brought (I was kinda concerned I hadn’t made enough, which is always the case for me – fear that I will run out). People commented on both how generous I was with my servings (I guess 1/12 of a pie is pretty large considering they recommend one or two bites because there are 20 different pies to taste at the competition). They also commented on the fact that I was actually serving a traditional round pie wedge. There were many competitors serving up non-traditional pies shaped pies. Some individual pies, some cut from small mini pie tins, one baked in a giant sheet pan, one empanada style (or em-pie-nada style I guess) and a couple that my loyal friends indignantly proclaimed to clearly be a tart NOT a pie. I love my friends! They are the best!
When I showed up, I was at first a little upset that my table was all the way in the back of the competitors quarters, away from everyone else. But in the end it turned out to be the best place! Not only was it more mellow back there, but everyone at the table was SUPER awesome. We definitely had the best table, both in terms of decoration and in terms of tastiest pies. Though I might be biased because I really didn’t have a chance to sample anyone else’s pies at the contest, I was so busy serving up my own. But whatever. I was next to the Ooh La La Ladies with their awesome Ooh La La Olallieberry Pie. I ADORE olallieberries and totally grilled them on where they were able to find them in late July as Olallieberry season was over (it’s a fleeting three or four weeks long). They had apparently gone and picked the Olallieberries themselves down in Watsonville and froze them. Total planning. I’m so not a planner (did I mention that?). I told them I went down to the Farmer’s Market the day before and totally hand picked the baskets of berries directly from the farmer. They seemed less impressed by my effort but still smiled sweetly.
When they opened up the gate for the attendants it became a bit of a mad dash for everyone to grab some pie. I didn’t really have a chance to talk to anyone or visit any other booth, I was too busy serving up the pie and drizzling some honey berry sauce on top (fancy!). But as the contest progressed, I started to hear a little bit of buzz from friends and from the attendants. A few random attendants were pointing in my directions, sending their friends my way, and others were outright coming up to me and telling me that they voted for me and they thought mine was the best.
A photographer (I think it was the organizer’s photographer, I’m not sure) specifically came up to me and said that he was struggling between choosing my booth and another booth as the best booth in the competition. I tried to persuade him of the merits of my booth by showing how my chess motif was completely consistent. Checkerboard tablecloth. Checkerboard pattern on the pie itself. I even had chess pieces that were purple and yellow like my pies – COMPLETELY ON PURPOSE! I looked ALL OVER for the exact right chess pieces!*
*Not really. They were all AJ could find at Target for cheap.
The photographer walked away with a smirk, and then later dragged a friend of his over and told him “You have to at least try this pie. I voted for it!” So whether or not I was going to pick me as the photographer’s choice, I know I had his vote!
My friend Felisa (who I had instructed to go and hype me up to the masses) reported back that she had casually turned to a complete stranger and asked him what his favorite pie was. Without hesitating, he said “Oh, number 10. The Blackberry Lemon Chess Pie with the berry sauce.” Score! Strangers love me too!
And then they announced the winners. The judges had an impressive resume, ranging from to people who made pies for a living like Natalie Galatzer from Bike Basket Pies to Krystin Rubin of Mission Pie to food writer for SF Weekly’s SFoodie section Tamara Palmer (who wrote a lovely blurb about the contest and name checked me! Holla!) and Rachel Cole of Hodo Soy Beanery and formerly of 18 Reasons. Oh man, talk about a bunch of serious food people! I was nervous.
Turns out AJ wasn’t though. He was totally cocky for me. He claimed that he heard enough random strangers talking about my pie that he was pretty sure that I was going to win. And it turns out he was right.
The judges’ third place winner was Team #18. Pie Love Baking with their Summer Love Peach Pie – Sweet, organic summer peaches in a rosemary, all-butter crust served with creme fraiche goodness. Oh man. I wish I had a taste of it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE peaches. And a rosemary crust sounds like such a great and unusual use of a flavoring in a crust (I would never have though to use rosemary in a sweet pie! So creative!). Sadness that I didn’t have a taste! Their pie looked totally delicious and perfect though with an amazing double crust with flecks of rosemary. You can actually read an account of their pie making experience (which sounds way more organized than mine!) on their blog. Reading it reminded me of EXACTLY why I went with a lemon/berry pie. WAY too lazy to peel peaches for 20 pies.
The judges’ second place winner was Team #1 Peace O’ Pie with their Sour Cherry Sweet Berry Pie – Indulge in the fruits of summer with this tart and sweet ruby red berry pie with a flaky, crispy crust. Team #1 actually showed up when AJ and I showed up to set up, so I totally saw her carrying in large sheet pans of pie and was lucky to actually taste a bit of the flakey goodness. Oh man, it was like puff pastry flakiness it was insane. SO GOOD. I wanted to ask her where she got her sour cherries, but I never had a chance to talk to her it was so crazy.
So that left the judges’ first place winner. Which, if you haven’t guessed, was my Check(mate) Please Blackberry Lemon Chess Pie! Whoo hoo! The description (as I stated WAY in the front of this post) was ridiculously long. Backyard home-grown lemons and local blackberries update this Southern classic chess pie with a California twist. Almond scented crust adds a contemporary touch, while a drizzle of berry sauce made with a touch of San Francisco honey adds homey complexity. I hesitated and labored over the description actually, trying to figure out if it was too long, too fancy, too pretentious. In the end, AJ said that as long as it was something that I actually would say, then it was OK to use. Apparently I talk in a long fancy pretentious way, because I could totally see myself explaining the pie in those terms. So I decided to leave it as is.
The most amazing thing happened when the organizer of the event Jeannie Choe announced my team number. Loud riotous thundering applause and general cheering was coming from all around me! My first thought was “Wow. My friends can be really loud…” and then I looked around and saw it wasn’t just them but EVERYONE in the audience applauding me. Genuinely applauding, not just politely clapping. They all seemed really really REALLY pleased that the judges had picked me!
AJ and I stumbled up to the front amidst people slapping us on the back and congratulating us and Jeannie put medals around our neck and a trophy in my hand and stuck a microphone in my face. Speech was yelled out by a few friends of mine (suddenly my friends weren’t looking as nice to me) and this is what I SHOULD have said, something witty, funny, slightly too long, slightly too fancy and a little bit pretentious:
“Thank you! Thank you! First and foremost, I want to thank the Academy… I mean the judges. [pause for awkward obligatory pity laughter at my lame tired joke] This means the world to me and totally helps validate all that I have wanted to do with my life. You guys totally are amazing and the fact that these professional judges voted on me is so flattering.
Please remember that even though I used four types of fat in my pie (leaf lard in the crust, butter in the crust and the filling, heavy cream in the filling and egg yolk in the filling) it has absolutely NO CALORIES and if you weigh more tomorrow, it because of the other pies you ate, not mine. Please everyone visit my blog where you can read the long epic journey of how I came to stand at this very spot, after suffering through trials and tribulations!
I want to dedicated this award to my mom for starting me on this path in elementary school when she forced me to go to summer school which included a cooking class! Mom you rock!”
But I didn’t. I didn’t give the Academy Award winning speech. Instead I mumbled. “Ummmm…thank you. I have a blog. Please go read it. I’ll write about this event. It’s eat the love.com.”
Yes. Very elegant of me. Somehow instead of pretentious, I ended up sounding like a self promoting jackass. *sigh* What are you going to do? I clearly do not think very well on my feet.
Next up was the Photographer’s Choice award and the winner was… NOT me! Oh well. You can’t win them all, but after the photographer had totally come up to me to confide in me that he was trying to decided between me and another booth AND he had voted for my pie AND he dragged his friend to taste my pie, I thought he was going to be swayed by my tasty wares and my pattern coordinated checkerboard pies and tablecloth. Damnit I had even scoured the globe to source the EXACT same colored chess pieces to match my pie**. Clearly he was not impressed.
**Again. Not really. Target, remember?
That said, the winner was Team #15, Gleeks with their awesomely named Rachel Berry Pie – Bite-sized almond custard pies loaded with mixed berries, topped with honey sweetened whipped cream and shaved almonds. The ridiculous thing is, I totally saw them prepping their station and the team was actually assembling the little pie cups with a dollop of custard, a couple of mixed berries and then whipped cream on top in a mad frantic manner. I was all “Now that’s ballsy! Making your pies an hour before the event!” But it worked for them, and the pies looked gorgeous. I couldn’t be too bitter for losing out to them, they deserved it.
The final awards were the People’s Choice awards. First up was the Honorable Mention award, and as we all crossed our fingers… Team #18 Pie Love Baking’s Summer Love Peach Pie was announced. Again! They had won the judges 3rd place so apparently the Judges were in sync with the audience… and my friends agreed they had a fantastic pie so the nodded their heads in approval.
But would the judges decisions and the audience decision line up with the top People’s Choice award? Turns out it did, because I won again! YES!!! I won both the Judges’s 1st Place award and the People’s Choice! Total alignment and SF FOOD WAR domination!!!! Double Rainbow! I was gobsmacked***!
***I’ve always wanted to use the word gobsmacked.
I was totally stunned and again the audience had to suffer through me stumbling through a ridiculous speech. The one that I SHOULD have said was something like:
“You like me. You really, really like me! [pause for awkward obligatory pity laughter at my lame tired joke] I want you all to know that when I walked in and saw the competition I was totally amazed at how awesome all the pies were and I didn’t think I had a chance at winning at all. I am totally gobsmacked and honored by this and you guys are the best! Please lets give a round of applause for all the competitors here at the event, I think they are ALL winners! [pause of obligatory but heartfelt applause].
I want to thank my partner AJ who totally ran around to Target and the Farmer’s Market and a million errands for me, and totally supported me and put up with our mess kitchen and the insanity of my stress for the last couple of weeks. I love you AJ! And I want to thank all of you for voting for me! I love you all for loving my pie! And If you didn’t have a chance to taste my pie, please come back to my station and take a slice as I totally have some more pies back there.
Also if you are fellow competitor and have extra pie, please let put a piece aside for me because I only had a chance to taste one or two pies and the ones I did taste were amazing and I want to try every one of them! I dedicate this award to all of you fellow competitors because I know and understand how hard each and every one of us worked on this to compete! Thank you so much!!!!”
But that wasn’t what I said. What I said was something like “Ummm. I’m glad I won again, because there are cleaning supplies in the award, and I could really use them because our kitchen is a huge mess…”
Yes. That is what I said. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was COMPLETELY stunned I guess. *sigh*
How embarrassing. EMBARRASSING. So sad.
But what are you going to do? As we were cleaning up our station, the Stable Café, which is where the food wars was held, TOTALLY cleared out fast. Jeannie Chou asked me if I was floating on air right now. I think I was just plain stunned at the turn of events. I joked that I wish I had won the photographer’s award. But it was a joke Jeannie. Really. I’m not that greedy!
In the end I think it might have been my fancy drizzle of San Francisco honey infused berry sauce over the pie slice that pushed me over the edge to winning (I went back and forth on whether I could call it a berry compote which AJ said he thought sounded fancier and thus, better. I decided it was more sauce-like and not thick enough with chunks of fruit to be compote). Whenever you drizzle something on top, it just looks fancier and who isn’t persuaded by fancy? And to think, I actually thought to skip the sauce (I confess, I sort of winged it with the sauce about an hour before we left for the competition. Throw some berries in a pan, add a little orange zest, some honey and you have yourself a berry sauce).
The sauce almost didn’t happen as we had some technical difficulties with the berry sauce (you’d think I would have tried actually squeezing the sauce out of the bottle first to see if it worked but then, you’d also think I had things planned out in advance and you would be wrong. I had just made the sauce an hour before). Seeds from the berries seemed to be getting stuck in the neck of the bottle tip, but then a brilliant attendant suggested we cut the tip off (I believe he phrased it as “Give that bottle tip a bris!”) and that solved that problem (though the mental image of comparing it to a circumcision wasn’t the most appetizing, as the berry sauce was bright red). Thank goodness we had the forethought to bring scissors.
Either way it didn’t really dawn on me the fact that I won both the Judges’ 1st Place and the People’s Choice award until the next morning, when I woke up two hours before my alarm was set, and I sat up and thought to myself “OMG. I competed against 20 people in San Francisco – one of the biggest foodcentric cities in the US – and my pies won both top prizes.” It was then, I realized I really was floating on air. Those are examples of some of the awesome pies I had to compete against below.
The prizes I got were pretty amazing. The cash I received pretty much covered the cost of the ingredients, decorations and other various equipment I had to buy (20 pie tins? Condiment bottles?) so I ended up pretty much even in terms of money spent and money earned. But the other prizes were amazing. Chef and paring knives from Wustof. Professional cookware from Anolon (they’re the prettiest cookware I’ve ever owned…and in fact, I think they are the first cookware that I own that isn’t from Marshall’s or isn’t nonstick!). Books from Chronicle Books and UC Press, gift certificates to Omnivore Books and Humphrey Slocombe, cleaning supplies from Method, 10 lbs of pie dough from Mission Pie (what the heck am I going to do with 10 lbs? I dunno, but I’ll figure something out!), cookies from a previous SF Food War alumn Sweet Constructions, a case of Honest Tea along with a baseball cap and tshirt from them, and my favorite award, a 2 Day workshop at the SF Baking Institute! Whoo hoo! I’m too cheap to actually pay for a baking class, but I am ALL over that one! SO EXCITING!
I’m still riding pretty high on my winnings if you can’t tell. Going to work was hard that Monday (what no one is cheering me as I walk in? No one is handing me a trophy or hanging a medal around my neck? What’s wrong with this place?!?!). But I’m adjusting to normal civilian life. July, which was suppose to be a more calm month compared to June (but clearly was NOT) is almost over. Give me August. Maybe I’ll get some rest then. Maybe. Probably not.
Whilst baking 20 pies, I did not listen to any one album, but a mix of Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite (when I was feeling especially eurogay), Scissor Sisters’ Night Work (when I was feeling especially 70′s disco gay) and The National’s High Violet (when I was feeling emo-gay). Apparently baking 20 pies makes me feel uber-gay.
Blackberry Lemon Chess Pie with Almond scented crust and honey jumbleberry sauce
This recipe has a lot of components. But hey, it’s an award winning pie, what do you expect? Once you read it through, realize that each component can be made on a separate day to save time, and you can skip certain components if you want to. I’ve made notes at the very bottom of the recipe explaining time saving methods and shortcuts and how to customize the pie. It’s actually a really basic pie when you come down to it.
Almond scented pie crust
This recipe makes two single pie crust pies (or enough for one double crust pie).
Adapted from More Best Recipes (America’s Test Kitchen) by the editor’s of Cook’s Illustrated
2 1/2 cups of unbleached AP flour
1/2 cup of almond meal or almond flour
1 tsp of kosher or sea salt
2 Tbsp of sugar
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) of cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup of leaf lard (see note) or trans-free shortening
1/3 cup ice cold vodka
1/3 cup ice cold water
1. Put 1 1/2 cups of AP flour and 1/2 cup of the almond meal into a food processor with the salt, sugar. Pulse a couple of times to blend and then add the butter (sliced into 1/4″ pieces) and the lard or shortening cut into 4 pieces. Process the mixture until dough/paste lump starts to form – about 15 seconds or so.
2. Add the rest of the 1 cup of AP flour to the mixture and pulse a few times to break up the dough. If the dough is still clumped up, open up the processor and break it up a little bit with your fingers or a fork and then pulse a few more times. You want the mixture to look sorta like cottage cheese lumps.
3. Pour the mixture into a bowl and sprinkle the vodka and the water over the dough. Using a large spatula fold the liquid into the dough. The dough should be a little sticky, but don’t worry about that. You’ll be adding more flour when you roll it out to compensate.
4. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Note: Leaf lard is different from the lard you find at the grocery store. It’s refined (but NOT hydrogenated like the grocery store stuff). It’s also a much higher grade way better for you. Don’t use the grocery store stuff. Stick with a trans-free shortening if you can’t find leaf lard, but if you can, it’s worth tracking down. You’ll make amazing flaky crust with it because it melts at a higher temperature (allowing for more air pockets in the dough. Air pockets = flakiness). Check with a local butcher and see if they can order it for you. Or split an order with a fellow baker and mail order a batch.
This recipe makes more than enough for two pies. Save the rest and use it on toast or a bagel. It’s a great fruit spread.
2 cups of blackberries (fresh or frozen – picked over and any moldy one discarded)
2 Tbsp sugar plus 1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp arrowroot flour or tapioca starch
1. Rinse the blackberries gently and spread them out on a large baking sheet lined with a double layer of paper towels. Gently shake the baking sheet to dry the berries.
2. Put the berries in a large stock pot with 2 Tbsp sugar and cook over medium heat until the berries start to disintegrate. It’s okay if some of the berries are still intact, but you want most of them to have dissolved into liquid. Remove from heat and carefully pour into a food processor. The liquid will be hot. Process the berries until smooth (being careful not to get any on yourself, it’ll burn! I recommend wrapping the edge of the lid with paper towels before you turn on the processor. It will splash out – or at least mine did as my walls can attest).
3. In a double boiler, or a metal bowl placed over a barely simmering pot of water, add 3 egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, the arrowroot flour/tapioca starch and 1/2 cup of blackberry puree. Stir the mixture with a whisk until it thickens up to the consistency of thick pudding.
4. Pour mixture into the food processor and process until smooth. At this point the curd is finished.
Blackberry Lemon Chess Pie assembling
This recipe makes enough filling for two thin 9″ pies (like my semi-disposable pie tins), or one deep dish pie (when I use my nicer glass pie dish, I can only get enough filling for one).
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cups cream
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp medium grain cornmeal
1/4 cup of lemon juice
Zest from three medium lemons (roughly 3 Tbsp of zest)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.
2. Roll out the pie dough for each pie tin you are using, making sure to use a generous amount of flour (the pie dough will be sticky so use as much flour as you want). Fit the dough into the pie tins and crimp the ends decoratively. Take a fork and prick the bottom of the pie dough several times evenly across the bottom of the pie tin.
3. Line the pie dough with parchment paper or a coffee filter and fill with pie weights or rice or dry beans. Bake the pie dough by itself for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, and then carefully lift up the parchment paper/coffee filter filled with weights/rice/beans and bake the crust for another 5-7 minutes without anything on top of it. The pie crust should look a little dry and the edges just starting to turn golden. This process is called blind baking.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚ F. Cool the pie crust while you are making the filling.
5. Cream the butter and sugar in a standing mixer until it looks light. Add the eggs one at time, beating between each addition. Add the milk and cream and mix until incorporated. The filling should look quite liquidy.
6. Add the cornstarch, cornmeal, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
7. Spread a thin layer of the blackberry curd on the bottom of the prebaked pie crust (I used about 3 Tbsp of curd, but you might want more if you like it sweeter, or are using a deep dish pan). I wanted just a bare hint of the blackberry taste as a counterpoint to the tart lemon, but you might want more. Keep in mind the more blackberry curd you use, the sweeter the pie will be.
8. Gently pour the lemon filling over the blackberry curd bottomed pie crust, making sure not to disturb the blackberry curd too much. Don’t overfill the pie.
9. Now you can either decoratively spoon some more blackberry curd on top and then swirl a knife around, or you can pipe some blackberry curd in lines across the pie, and then draw a knife back and forth creating a feathered pattern. Or you can be insane like I was and cut out a grid and fill every other grid with blackberry curd and then gently lift the grid straight up from the pie to create a checkerboard pattern. I don’t recommend that one though. No one should be that insane.
10. Bake the pie for 35 minutes or until the top of the pie starts to get golden and the the center is set.
Honey Jumbleberry Sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp arrowroot
4 1/2 cups of mixed berries (I used chopped strawberries, raspberries, tayberries, bluberries, blackberries but you can use whatever you want)
zest of 1 medium orange (about 1 Tbsp)
1. Mix the honey, orange juice, and arrowroot together and stir until the honey is dissolved.
2. Put the berries in a large stockpot with the zest. Add the orange juice mixture and cook over medium heat until the berries have dissolved and the sauce has thickened a little and looks shiny.
3. If you want to, you can puree it in a food processor, or just serve it a little chunky. If you want to get fancy, you can put it in a condiment squeeze bottle and drizzle it over the pie slices. Just remember to cut the tip of the bottle so it’s wide enough to allow for the seeds to go through. Or strain the seeds out with sieve. I was too lazy and too much in hurry to do that. People didn’t seem to mind.
This recipe seems super long and complicated. But it’s really a serious of components. Here’s how to simplify it and customize it for yourself.
1. Make the pie dough a day or two ahead. In fact, pie dough freezes really well. Just make a batch or two (the food processor makes it SO easy) and freeze a couple for future use! Just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and you have pie crust, or better yet, roll out the dough, fit in a pan and then stick the entire pan in a large freezer ziplock bag and just freeze it whole. Pull it out and stick it directly in the oven no need to thaw (just make sure you are using metal pie tins, don’t freeze glass or ceramic pie plates and then stick them in the oven directly. They’ll shatter).
2. Make the sauce in advance. It keeps for a couple of days. Or skip the sauce entirely. It’s totally optional. The sauce, by the way, is awesome on pancakes and french toast.
3. Make the blackberry curd a few days in advance (it’ll keep for up to a week in the fridge). Or skip making the curd and use some store bought stuff. Or even skip that and just use some store bought blackberry jam or some other berry jam or preserve. I won’t tell, I won’t judge.
4. Go back to basics, as the lemon chess pie is a classic southern treat. Skip all the extra stuff, just use a pre-made storebought crust (but I did tell you the pie dough is easy to make with a food processor right?) and make the lemon chess pie filling all by itself without the sauce, without the blackberry curd. It’s a nice change of pace from the cloyingly gelled lemon meringue pies.