A big berry pie – or rather tart – seems an appropriate finale to the main berry season. Well, almost finale, if you want to be precise. Many more Autumn raspberries are still to come, and, of course, the last of the wild blackberries are also out there waiting to be picked in the hedgerows. Although, one should heed the warning that witches pee on the brambles around this time of year – or so my Scottish mother-in-law used to say. It’s an old British and Irish old folk saying. However, it comes with a variable date attached – anywhere between an unspecified day in September and Halloween on the 31st of October – depending on who you listen to. I was told not to pick as of the first of October. It only goes to show that witches seem to be a rather unpredictable lot. Who knows the facts behind this superstition, but I suspect it has something to do with the lack of flavour that late blackberries have, a seasonal reminder that the picking season is nearly done.
This pie, or rather tart, is made from a blackberry-raspberry hybrid: loganberries. They are part of the huge crop I harvested last month in my garden. It is also my swan song to my UK kitchen and garden. Soon, very soon, in a matter of days, I’ll be on my way east to Greece with no berries in sight. Figs, melons, grapes…
Loganberry Crumble Tart
Straight off the canes last month, I popped the ripe loganberries into the freezer – certainly fresh, but frozen. Of course, this pie/tart/crumble can also be applied to fresh berries, particularly blackberries. Loganberries take their vigorourisness and structure from balckberries and their lovely tart flavour mostly from raspberries. Other blackberry hybrids – such as boysenberries and tayberries – would be equally delicious.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
Based on Richard Bertinet’s Sweet Pastry in his lovely book, Pastry.
- 350g plain (all-purpose) flour
- 125g caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 125g butter
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
Take a block of butter (125g) and place between two sheets of greasproof paper. Pound the butter until it is flattened, but still quite cold. Place back into the refrigerator while you assemble the other ingredients. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Take the butter and cover it with the flour mixture, ripping it into pieces with your hands. Flick the butter and flour mixture between thumb and forefinger, rotating the bowl. When the butter flecks have been reduced to small pieces (no larger than your small fingernail), stop mixing. Do not be tempted to over mix. Add the eggs and the additional yolk, reserving the egg white for later. Mix until incorporated and then push the dough down with your thumbs, turning the mixture over until it becomes a uniform consistency. Flatten it into a dough “brick” and wrap in greeseproof paper. It is essential to in the refrigerator for at least hour or two – or even over night.
Take the chilled dough out and roll it out on a lightly dusted board using a lightly floured rolling pin, shifting the dough so that it does not stick. Roll out to about 1/2cm thick. Roll onto the rolling pin and lay it over a 28cm diameter tart pan. Press the dough into the shape, cutting away the excess along the edge. The extra dough can be refrigerated or frozen for future use for tartlettes or a small crostata.
Prick the dough with the tines of a fork all along the bottom and along the sides. Line the tart with baking parchment and add pie weights (specialist ceramic beads or old dried beans). Place the lined pan in the refrigerator to rest and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (approx. 350 degrees F). When the dough has rested and the oven is up to temperature, place the lined tart pan in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and take away the lining and the beans. If using dried beans, discard once cool. Using the reserved egg white, brush the bottom and sides of the tart and place back into the oven for another 5 minutes. This seals the surfce of the crust and prevents it from becoming soggy. Let the tart crust cool on a rack.
Many juicy fruit pies use flour as a thickener in pie fillings, but I prefer to use corn flour as it does not interfere with the taste of the fruit and sets clear rather than cloudy and gummy as flour sometimes does.
- 650g fresh or frozen loganberries
- 210g (approximately 1 cup) caster sugar
- 30g (approximately 1/4 cup) corn flour (corn starch)
- Juice of 1 lemon (zest reserved for crumble topping)
Make the filling by putting the berries in a large pot. Combine the sugar and cornstarch and add to the loganberries. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice, stir and turn up the heat to bring to a low boil. The filling should thicken in a few minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool completely before putting it into the prepared tart crust.
A standard crumble topping to soak up those extra juices.
- 50g cold butter, cut into pieces
- 100g plain flour
- 50g caster sugar
- zest from one lemon
Rub the butter into the mixture of flour, sugar and finely chopped zest. When it resembles coarse crumbs, sprinkle on top of the filled tart.
Bake at 180 degrees C (approximately 350 degrees F) for about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, completely cool on a rack. Remove the tart from the tin before serving.
Cut into slices and enjoy!