Granny’s Blackberry Pie

For years now, I’ve heard stories of my husband’s grandmother, who passed away shortly before he and I met. Granny is a legendary cook – I wish I could find her secret recipe book. Although most of them were probably never written down.

One of her dishes that I’ve been wanting to re-create is her Blackberry Pie. My husband, who raves about this concoction every time a blackberry pops into our lives, was actually not very helpful in describing the dish to me. So I went to his parents. Granny taught my mother-in-law how to make many of her signature recipes (including her biscuits, which is another story altogether). So I played 20 questions with my extremely patient and helpful mother-in-law before attempting to make Granny’s Blackberry Pie.

So here it is: my humble attempt to recreate a dish that my husband ate at his Granny’s house when he was a little boy. I think my version doesn’t have quite as much sugar as Granny’s did. She would also strain the blackberries so that just the juice remained, but I kept the berries whole to add some more bulk to the filling. The crust is actually my Nanny’s recipe, and I think I took some creative liberties in making the crust a bit thicker around the edges – Granny apparently just made a square and let the juices bubble up around the edges. The one thing they all remembered quite clearly, though, was the generous coating of cinnamon sugar on top – an extra little sumthin’-sumthin’ that, in my humble opinion, makes this dish a truly memorable one!

Granny’s Blackberry Pie
from hubby’s Granny

4 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
A pinch of salt

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons shortening
1 ounce (1/8 cup) ice cold water

1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×9-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the blackberries, sugar, water, and salt. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer, and smash up the berries using the back of a spoon or other utensil. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken into a thin syrup. Pour the berry mixture into the prepared dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly and flaky.

Make a well in the center and pour in the ice water. Stir lightly with a fork until a loose dough forms. Then get in there with your hands to make the dough into a ball. If the dough won’t come together, then add a few more drops of cold water.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a 10×10-inch square. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just big enough to drape over the dish with the berries. Trim the edges, and pinch them to the edge of the dish.

Next, brush the egg over the crust. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the berries are nice and bubbly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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