I know it might seem that there is just endless sweets and treats around these parts, but it's not entirely the case. The slices are always, always given away. Caramel appears once in a blue moon. (OK, maybe twice in a blue moon if they occur in fifteen out of twenty years.)
But Friday night? Friday night is dessert night. The only dessert night, and much heralded. If you're in the area on a Friday, Henry and Tilly will suggest that you stay. Dessert is exciting. Orders are taken, requests are usually granted. There is long-winded discussion and planning.
Henry has been asking for a blackberry pie for weeks. Friday night dessert night has consisted of a scoop of homemade icecream for the last few weeks, and as I wanted to make pastry anyway.... well here it is.
I wish I could say they were seasonal, local handpicked blackberries.
They're not. It's damn hard to find a blackberry around here that hasn't been sprayed to death by frustrated farmers. In fact I think it might even be illegal to grow blackberries here. They are thought of a bit like lantana. Voracious and hard to dig out. Maybe that's what I love about them. They're just like some of my favourite people.
No, for blackberry pie I have to resort to frozen berries. And they're OK for this.
If you've never bothered making pastry before and tend to peel it apart in frozen sheets, you HAVE to try this. It is quicker than defrosting bought pastry, I promise!!! And completely fail safe.
MY RECIPE FOR SHORTCRUST PASTRY
125g cold butter
300g plain flour
2 tbsp pure icing sugar
2 tbsp cold water
Blend all the above ingredients in a food processor (I know it's a gadget but it's the most used bit of kit in my kitchen) until they come together in a claggy fashion like this:
Pull it out and give it a little knead and it's ready to use.
I split it about 60% and 40% and use the bigger ball for the base. Roll it out on a floured board and chuck it into a greased pie dish.
Put your berries in, sprinkle with a little sugar.
Roll out the pie lid and plonk it on.
*Put pie in fridge for an hour or two while you run errands.
This bit, above, is not necessary, you can bake it immediately. I tend to make pies earlier in the day (not at 5pm!) and I like to bake them and pull them out to eat hot.
I like cooking cold pastry. It gives it a better 'short' texture. If you sit this pie on a bench for a few hours the pastry will go very soft and won't have a lovely crisp snap when you cut it.
Oh, blackberry pie.
We use to 'blackberry' (the verb! You don't strawberry, really, do you? You certainly don't watermelon) as a kid before the brambles were all sprayed. Mrs Buckman used to make blackberry pie for us. My Grandma did too. It's old school. Tart and zingy and perfect served with this custard.
Thanks, Henry Bean. Excellent idea.