I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason. Although sometimes it’s not easy to see what that reason is straight away when everything seems to be going wrong. But I’ve found that with a little bit of faith, things tend to work out even better than you’d hoped. The older I get, the harder it is to follow that advice. I’m not too good at waiting for things to happen, but I’ve learned better than to force things before the time is right. Especially when major life decisions are involved. Maybe in a few months if all things go to plan, I can elaborate. But for now I must be patient.
When I thought up the idea for these pies, I had planned to make them with a vodka pastry. It might sound strange, but the science makes sense. Having pastry shrink is one of my biggest pet hates, but because vodka is just 60% water, it will give your pastry the moisture it needs to roll out beautifully, but won’t evaporate in the oven (and therefore make your pastry shrink) like water will. Plus being colourless and odourless, you won’t even know it’s there.
But unfortunately the vodka pastry was a bit of a failure. I knew it long before I rolled it out and lined the tins, but I persevered and wasted some of my precious berry filling on the damn failed pies. I think was my own fault, but it’s definitely dissuaded me from using shortening in pastry. From here on out, it’s butter all the way. In a moment of panic, I turned to a recipe I’ve used before. It’s totally delicious, with a hint of vanilla, and is absolutely perfect for pies. Why on earth didn’t I just use this pastry to begin with?!
I’ll say it simply, I loved these pies. The combination of beautifully ripe strawberries, blueberries and raspberries made them perfect for this time of year when berries are in season, abundant, and affordable! Served simply with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, you can’t ask for better than this.
And perhaps there’s a lesson here. And maybe next time I’ll pay attention. Don’t try to force something else when you can feel in your gut that it’s not right. It’s okay to stick with something tried and true. And when it tastes this good, it would be crazy not to! So here’s to patience, and to pies.
Mixed Berry Lattice Pies
Vanilla Pastry (adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
• 450g plain flour
• 120g pure icing sugar, sifted
• 225g cold butter, coarsely chopped
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3-4 tablespoons iced water
• 150g strawberries, hulled and cut in halves (or quarters if strawberries are large)
• 100g blueberries
• 75g raspberries
• 1 tablespoon raw sugar
• Juice of half a lemon
• 1 tablespoon cornflour
• 1 egg, lightly whisked
• Raw Sugar, for dusting
To make the pastry, combine flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add 3-4 tablespoons iced water and vanilla extract and pulse until mixture just combines. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Combine ingredients for pie filling in a bowl and stir gently to combine. Set aside.
To assemble pies, roll two-thirds of the pastry between sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3mm thick and use to line 6 buttered 9.5cm diameter pie pans. Fill with berry mixture. Roll out remaining pastry to 3mm thick and cut into 1cm strips. Place strips over tops of pies in a lattice shape, press down and trim edges. Brush tops with egg wash and scatter with raw sugar. Bake pies for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.