What is magic? Depending on the day, my answer varies.
Sometimes, when the kitchen smells like a patisserie and my hands are covered in flour, I will say that magic is watching 1,000 layers of a croissant expand. Sometimes, if I have just seen a tar-black black sky explode into color, I will tell you that magic is a violent sunrise. Other times, magic is music that snakes itself around everything. And on a sunny day when I am covered in dirt and exposing the rawness beneath the earth, magic is turning seed into sustenance, sustenance into life.
And yet, most often, I will tell you magic is what happens when you combine fruit and sugar. When you take tart, giant blackberries, and small, juicy blueberries and roll them in sugar and watch as their color turns from a deep navy to a puddling purple.
That is magic.
And when you cover it all in handfuls of the most buttery crumble- with the sweet, toasty addition of cornmeal- and when you bake a pie that is reminiscent of both midnight and a golden August day, well, I will tell you that is magic too.
But the greatest magic, I think, is watching non-believers take a bite. They close their eyes. They take a spoonful. Suddenly, the slice is finished. And then they ask for seconds, because that is what pie does. It turns the skeptics into believers.
So if you ask me today, or most any day, what magic is, I will tell you that it is a pie that unites both crumble people and pie people, blackberry people and blueberry people. A pie that captures summer and has everyone digging in.
That is magic.
Yields: one 9″ pie
Why I love this recipe: tart blackberries are high in pectin, a natural thickener, and are wonderful companions to sweet, crisp tasting blueberries, balancing both the flavor and juiciness of the pie. A whole wheat crust and a buttery, cornmeal crumble topping give this pie a pleasing texture, and baking this at a lower temperature than is usual for pie ensures that the crumble doesn’t burn but stays crisp and hearty.
For the pie crust:
- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1/2 stick frozen butter
- 1/2 stick cold butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 ounces water
For the pie filling:
- 4 cups blackberries, washed and dried
- 2 cups blueberries, washed and dried
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons tapioca starch
For the cornmeal crumble topping:
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cold
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- To make the crust, combine the flours, sugar and salt in a bowl. Use your fingers to cut in the stick of cold butter until it is the size of peas. Then cut in the frozen butter, leaving it in bigger, visible pieces, the size of lima beans.
- Add the apple cider vinegar to the water and make a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix the water into the flour until just combined.
- If the dough seems dry, add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time. Press the dough together, split it in half, form into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough overnight, or freeze for at least one hour.
- Combine the blackberries, blueberries, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and cornstarch. Let sit while you make the crumble.
- Make the crumble: In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt together until they are well combined and no lumps remain in the sugar. Add the butter and use your fingers to smush it into the dry ingredients until it is well combined and large crumbs form. Set aside until needed.
- .Remove your dough from the freezer or fridge. Then, working gently, roll out the dough into a 12″ circle on a floured surface. Trim the edges.
- Transfer dough to pie plate. Fold the edges under and crimp them. Fill the pie with the fruit and all the juices that have collected in the bowl.
- Sprinkle the pie with the crumble, leaving some of the crumble in big pieces and some of them small, until all the fruit is completely covered and the crumble towers high.
- Transfer the pie to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the pie until the crust and crumbs are golden and the fruit juices are bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. If the crumble appears to be browning too fast, you can cover it with silver foil.
- Let cool for two hours. Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream.