One more thing...I need to record the fixin's for a tart I made for Memorial Day. I've had my eye on a massive bag of frozen berries at Costco for about a year. It has four pounds of blueberries, raspberries and marionberries and I figured that would be a nice ready-made pie filling. I decided to try my theory.
I'm a fan of tapioca as a pie thickener, which I've taken from my mom's many years of pie experience. Corn starch and the like creates a nasty sticky gooeyness that I don't like. It's always a question as to how much to use, but there's a rough guide on the side of the tapioca box and so I used their suggestion for blueberry pie. It calls for four cups of fruit, a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of tapioca.
Here's what I learned for next time: 1/4 cup of tapioca is too much. I think an 1/8 of a cup plus a tablespoon should be enough. You don't want a pie filling to be thick like pudding, and this was just a tad too thick for my taste. I dropped the sugar back to 3/4 cup, since I've never liked an overly sweet pie. It was just about right.
I improvised a little bit too, and I think I'll continue doing this the next time around. I added a little each of blueberry, raspberry and blackberry port wines that I have at home. Alcohol brings out certain flavor compounds in food that can only be released by alcohol and adding some alcohol made from the berries included in the pie can't be a bad idea. The blackberry is closely related to the marionberry, so I figured adding all three would be a good idea. I added just a dash of salt too to bring out the flavor some more, as well as a bit of vanilla to add some roundness and a hint of black pepper which you can't really taste but that I think makes it have an extra something. The one thing that I'm going to increase next time is the orange extract I added. The last time I made a blackberry pie, I added lemon zest but it was way too much. I like a little citrus kick with berries, so I thought the orange extract would be a nice note. I only added an 1/8 of a teaspoon though, so next time I'll add a 1/4 teaspoon and see where that takes the filling. I think I'll also add a dash of raspberry wine vinegar for a little raspberry tang.
All in all it was a success, except for the crust. I still have a dickens of a time with pie crusts. This time it was so unwieldy I turned it into a tart by stuffing the crust into my tart pan and using the remaining dough to make a crumb topping with some added brown sugar, regular sugar and cinnamon. It's a heck of a lot easier than a pie crust and looks and tastes just as good.
I'll be making a few more of these three berry pies/tarts this summer.