The Pie Belle’s Classic Southern Summer Pies and Cobblers
As a follow-up to my list of the South’s top ten pies, here are a few recipes for classic summer pies and cobblers…
The first recipe was left off the original top ten because someone had to be number eleven. It was a hard choice since trips to pick strawberries are such a tradition for many southerners. We put strawberries in our lemonade, in our salads and they are the star ingredient in our strawberry shortcakes. This pie tastes like summertime in a pie shell —no glaze, no gelatin, just fresh strawberry goodness topped with homemade whipped cream.
1 (9-inch) pie crust, pre-baked
1 quart fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Cut the tops off half of the strawberries and arrange, flat-side down, in the baked pie shell. In a food processor, pulse remaining berries until almost pureed and combine with sugar in a medium heavy saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Stir often.
In a bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into the boiling strawberries. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, stirring constantly (about 10 minutes). Pour mixture over strawberries in baked shell. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
In a small mixing bowl, combine cream, sugar and vanilla. Whip cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Serve each slice with whipped cream. You can make whipped cream ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator.
My all-time-favorite-dessert-ever is my mama’s blackberry cobbler. The fencerows of our little farm were covered in old dewberry and blackberry bushes. We’d work for hours to fill our buckets. Then came washing the berries and waiting as Mama made homemade pie dough, assembled the cobbler and finally baked it. Every thorn-prick and hour waited was worth the final result, though, as that bowl of warm cobbler, with its quickly-melting mound of vanilla ice cream, was set before us. Nothing tastes as good to me as her cobbler, for which she had no written recipe, but this one comes close.
Pie pastry for one double-crust pie, unbaked
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
4 cups fresh blackberries, washed
2 tablespoons butter
Roll and fit one pie crust into a 8-inch square pan, leaving about ½-inch of crust overhang on all sides. Set aside.
Combine sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir well. Add berries and toss gently.
Spoon berry mixture into crust and dot top with butter.
Roll remaining pie crust (thin) and cut into strips. Weave strips in a lattice pattern over top of the berry mixture. Fold edges together and crimp. Brush lattice top with an egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water) and sprinkle with sugar. The egg wash makes it brown nicely and gives it a little shine.
Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until berries are thickened and bubbly. Lay a piece of aluminum foil loosely over top if the crust begins to burn toward the end of baking. Let it cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice cream.
This is the dessert I make for special company. There’s a short list of people for whom I make this classic southern dessert because it is a time-consuming task. Fresh peaches are peeled and sliced by hand and then cooked down on the stove. Half of those are topped with a layer of pie dough that’s baked until golden. Then, that dough gets covered by another layer of peaches, and another layer of dough to be baked until it’s crispy. That middle layer of dough—saturated and weighed down by a heavy sweetness—is like the very air of the Delta South of my childhood. Drop biscuit-style cobblers certainly have their place on southern tables, but sometimes the occasion—or just the company—merits breaking out your rolling pin! This recipe uses a lot of peaches because if you’re going to go to this much effort, you might as well make a large cobbler!
Prepared pie pastry for 2 double crust pies, unbaked, and divided into two portions
16 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches (about 10 pounds)
4 cups granulated sugar
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter
In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the peaches and the next 3 ingredients. Set this mixture aside until it begins to form its own syrup. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until peaches are tender (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Stir mixture gently until butter melts.
Spoon half of the peach mixture into a greased lasagna pan. Roll half of the pie pastry to fit the pan and place on top of the peaches. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Spoon remaining peaches over the baked crust. Roll out the other half of pastry (thin) and cut into strips. Weave strips to form a lattice design over peaches. Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk).
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly before serving with vanilla ice cream.
For more great recipes and info about Terri Duhon, visit her website thepiebelle.com