Several summers ago, on an outdoor camping trip, I tasted the most amazing fruit pies I’d had in years. Cherry bursting out of one and bright red raspberry in another. I kept going back for small-ish slivers to figure out what made this particular pie so special. Aside from a crust that was flaky and not at all soggy, the fruit was definitely the star. The flavors reminded me of pie happy hour — yes, it’s a thing — in Texas bluebonnet country, where at some cafes from 3 to 5 p.m. you can get a thick slice of homemade pie and a cup of coffee for about $3.
I’ve been promising to write down a recipe shared by local pie maker extraordinaire Kirby Kauffman, an Anchorage-based musician and teacher, who has been making these pies for friends and family for years.
“Most food I make is pretty basic,” she says. “So it’s fun to make something pretty as well as tasty.”
The original comes from a college going-away gift, “Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook,” which Kirby has since modified and improved. I was a little disheartened but not surprised to learn that the original calls for shortening in the crust and margarine in the filling. Usually I make all-butter crusts but decided to experiment with Kirby’s recipe and use an organic all-vegetable shortening, which is non-hydrogenated. I was happy to discover that it yields a flaky, buttery crust and holds up well to the fruit.
“Sometimes I squeeze in an extra cup of fruit if using a larger pie dish, but don’t usually add any extra sugar,” Kirby added. “And be careful of being too greedy and overloading the pie because it boils over and takes forever to bake.”
Another tip is to make sure to cover the edge of the crust so it doesn’t overbrown. Usually I cut out a ring of aluminum foil to place around the edge of the crust, but you can also buy Kirby’s new favorite gadget, a pie crust shield. Change up the fruit and modify the sugar depending on how ripe/sweet the fruit is. I like this combo of peach and raspberry, but when in season, try blueberry, cherry, apple or pear. It’s important, although admittedly difficult, to allow the pie to cool at least three to four hours before slicing into it. But you will be rewarded with an award-winning pie worthy of any happy hour.
Raspberry peach pie
For a double crust:
This makes enough dough for a double-crust pie using a 9-to-10-inch pie plate, plus enough for a mini tart or two.
3 cups all-purpose flour (400g)
1 teaspoon salt (7g)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (113g), cut into small pieces
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
About 5 tablespoons ice cold water
1. In the bowl of a food processor (or a large mixing bowl if not using a processor), combine flour and salt and pulse once or twice, or stir with a fork. Mix in butter and shortening — with a pastry blender or two forks — or pulse a few times until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add water a few tablespoonfuls at a time and pulse a few times; keep pulsing or mixing in a bowl until the dough just starts to come together and form a ball. If dough is still dry, add up to another tablespoon of water but be careful not to add too much water or overmix. Press together with lightly floured hands and form into two flat rounds; wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 20 minutes and up to overnight. Note: Dough can also be frozen and thawed just before using.
For the filling:
6 to 7 cups total fruit (3 pints raspberries plus 3 to 4 large peaches, sliced,) or blueberries or blackberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch or 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, if desired
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon milk or water
Coarse sugar, such as demerara or regular granulated sugar, for sprinkling
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil to set pie on for easy cleanup of any juices that might bubble over. Remove pastry from fridge about 10 to 15 minutes before using. While pastry is softening, place fruit in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle over sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and lemon juice.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll one pastry disc into a circle 2 to 3 inches larger than the pie plate (9- by 1 ¼-inches to a 10-inch pie plate). Fold pastry into fourths and carefully place into pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and sides. Trim overhang. Spoon fruit mixture into pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces and dot mixture evenly with butter. Roll out second pastry disc and cut slits or circles or other design into the pastry. Place over fruit filling. Trim excess and fold edges of top crust and tuck into bottom crust, crimping with fingers or using a fork to seal edges. Whisk together milk and egg yolk and brush over top of crust. And, if desired, sprinkle with demerara sugar or regular sugar. If it’s very warm in your kitchen, place pie in fridge 20 minutes or so before baking. Place pie on foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove pie from oven and cut a circle out of aluminum foil and place around outer rim of pie to protect crust from overbrowning. REDUCE heat to 375 degrees and bake another 45 to 50 minutes and until juice begins to bubble through the slits and crust is golden brown. Keep in mind that all ovens are slightly different, so keep checking the pie or use an oven thermometer placed in center of oven. Cool on cooling rack at least 4 hours.
Correction: A previous version of this article listed an incorrect quantity of shortening. The correct amount is 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons.