If you are still looking for the perfect dessert to serve at your Memorial Day get-together, look no further. This pie is simple to make and really embodies summer with all the fabulous fresh berries, hence the name! The newest addition to my cookbook collection is Baking Illustrated, and let me tell you, I am in love. I’ve baked four things from it in the past week (including my beloved cheesecake) and have no intention of slowing down anytime soon! This pie was one of the first things that caught my eye when I browsed through the book and I decided to wait until berries were on sale so that it wouldn’t cost me a fortune to make. Well, a few days later I walked in to the grocery store and saw that literally every variety of berry was on sale. That was all the encouragement I needed! I stocked up on the berries, came home and got busy in the kitchen.
This pie is actually incredibly low-maintenance as pies go. With a simple graham cracker crust, there is no fussing with cutting butter into flour, chilling, rolling, making a lattice top, etc. Additionally, only the crust needs to be baked. The actual filling consists of a mixed berry puree that is cooked briefly with cornstarch to thicken for the bottom layer, and the remainder of the mixed berries are tossed with a bit of jam for the top layer. The whole thing is refrigerated to set up, and that is all there is to it! I was nervous about the pie being messy when sliced, since it is somewhat of a free-form filling, but the people at Cook’s Illustrated know what they’re doing. The berry puree layer firms up nicely and keeps the loose berries on top in place so the slices are gorgeous. I served this at a family get-together and when served alongside some homemade vanilla ice cream, it was just perfect!
Summer Berry Pie
For the crust:
5 oz. graham crackers (approx. 9 crackers), broken into rough pieces
2 tbsp. sugar
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and warm
For the filling:
2 cups raspberries (about 9 oz.)
2 cups blackberries (about 11 oz.)
2 cups blueberries (about 10 oz.)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. red currant jelly (I used strawberry jam)
To make the crust, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, process the graham crackers into fine, even crumbs (you should have about 1 cup of crumbs). Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a small mixing bowl and toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch glass pie plate. Use the bottom of a ramekin or measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides, forming a crust. Bake in the preheated oven until it is fragrant and beginning to brown, 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely while making the filling.
For the filling, combine the berries in a large colander and gently rinse (taking care not to bruise them). Spread the berries on a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet and gently pat dry with additional paper towels.
In a food processor, puree 2 1/2 cups of the mixed berries until smooth and fully pureed, about 1 minute. Strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve into a small nonreactive saucepan, scraping and pressing on the seeds to extract as much puree as possible (you should have 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups). Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl to combine, then whisk the mixture into the puree. Bring the puree to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon; when the mixture reaches a boil and is thickened to the consistency of pudding, remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and set aside to cool slightly.
While the puree is cooling, place the remaining berries in a medium bowl. Warm the jelly (or jam) briefly in the microwave to melt it slightly. Add the warmed jelly to the bowl of mixed berries and toss very gently so that all the berries are coated. Pour the berry puree into the cooled crust and smooth with a rubber spatula. Evenly distribute the glazed berries over the puree and gently press into the surface. Loosely cover the pie with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled and the puree has set, about 3 hours (or up to 1 day). Slice with a hot, dry knife and serve.
Source: adapted from Baking Illustrated