I do believe that summer may have left us.
Despite the weekend's warmth of a sun that seemed especially golden, the rustle of leaves this morning speaks in murmurs of autumn. The sky looks a painterly depiction of the layers of a feathers on a dove's wing.
I wore jeans the other day, and a shirt with long sleeves. What's worse is that I didn't mind. I may have even cast a longing glance at a pair of wool socks.
And then there's school. Yesterday was the the first for our First, Benjamin's first day at school. Backpack and new shoes, a fresh haircut and the whole nine yards. September is forever changed in what it means to him. And to us, as we zipped up that backpack and mussed up that hair and thought to ourselves, "my, how time does fly."
Not to dwell too long, or next thing you know I'll be humming The Byrds and we'll all be lost.
Let's rewind. Back to summer. And back to this pie - it's Blackberry Cream Pie, in case you're wondering. And it was the way we said goodbye to our August, with a send off and a salute.
If you ask me, there's no doubt, blackberries are the end of summer, swallowed whole. I feel like their sourness differs from that of strawberries and raspberries. It seems to hit further back on the tongue, at the back of the jaw and tannic. Like their looks, they taste darker, of fruit that should grow among brambles, of wildness and things overgrown.
And to me, this pie, is all that is an August afternoon, transfixed.
Inspired by a pie from Sweet Fine Day, this version has a golden shortbread crust beneath a filling of whole berries bound by a soft-set blackberry purée. It's voluptuous and beguiling like jelly without the wobble.The whole fruit, those ebony clustered bubbles bursting upon biting, are full of all of August's heat and humidity.
There's patches of pink where the filling seeps into the pale cream, but mostly the fruit just shines duskily, jet and juicy.
The wind is picking up now, with the curtains at my side puffing in and out with the breath of September. The start of something new is upon us, but this summer, and it was a good one, is still on my mind.
Blackberry Cream Pie
Adapted from the Fresh Strawberry Pie from Sweet Fine Day. Most packets of powdered gelatin contain 1 tablespoon, or 3 teaspoons - this recipe will use an entire packet, with 2 teaspoons for the filling and 1 teaspoon reserved for the topping.
Ingredients for the crust
2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Ingredients for the filling
6 cups blackberries, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
Ingredients for the topping
1 1/2 cups heavy, whipping cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Seeds scraped from half a vanilla bean
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons milk
To make the crust, preheat an oven to 325°F (160°C). In a large bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and salt. While stirring, start to drizzle in the butter. Only use enough butter to dampen the crumbs - depending on the cookies used it might be as little as 1 tablespoon or as much as 3. If you compress the crumbs with the back of a spoon they should pack like sand at the beach, but not appear sodden.
Press the crumbs into a 10-inch springform pan, forming an even layer across the bottom and a 3-inch crust up the sides. Bake in the preheated oven until lightly golden and set, around 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the filling, take 3 cups of the berries and put them in a medium saucepan with the sugar and the of the salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until the fruit becomes soft and the juices begin to thicken, around 7-10 minutes.
Carefully remove the blackberries to a blender (or use an immersion blender), and process until smooth. Push the puréed sauce through a sieve, back into the saucepan. Return to the heat and bring again to a simmer, stirring often. Cook the sauce until it becomes thick, with a clear, glossy look, around 5-7 minutes. You should have around 1 cup of purée.
Off the heat, stir in the lemon zest, followed by the soaked gelatin, stirring quickly to dissolve.
Tumble in the reserved berries, give them a few turns in the pan to coat, then pour into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to start to firm up.
To make the topping, pour the whipping cream into a bowl along with the sugar and scraped contents of the vanilla bean. Beat the cream to firm peaks, then fold in the sour cream.
In a small saucepan, soak the gelatin in the milk. Once soaked, heat the gelatin gently over low heat until it melts and the mixture is smooth. Working quickly but gently, fold the gelatin into the whipped cream. Spread the topping over the blackberry filling, return the pie to the fridge and chill until set, around 2 hours.
To serve, remove from the pan and cut with a warm knife, wiping the blade clean between slices.
Makes a 10-inch pie.
- I used an oatmeal shortbread cookie to make the crumbs for the crust, but a plain shortbread or graham crackers will work beautifully. In the case of the latter, you will need to use extra melted butter for the crumbs to hold together properly.
- Earlier this summer I made this pie with raspberries and a graham cracker crust. If they're the berry for you, don't hesitate to do the same.