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JUMBLEBERRY PIE: A MARKET STORY

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“A trip to the farmers market can be as inspiring and as uplifting as a trip to Yosemite,” Marion Cunningham once wrote, and that is especially true in August—it is such an opulent month.

In Manhattan, the Union Square market is brimming with tomatoes and corn, peaches and melons, eggplants and peppers, yellow crookneck squash and zucchini, and berries. Lots of berries. They are impossible to resist: Summer will soon be at the end of its tether, and Sam and I can’t miss out on an old-fashioned jumbleberry pie, made with raspberries, blueberries, and—most importantly—blackberries. When cooked, they balance the sweetness of the other two fruits with their winey depth.

I splurge on the berries from Phillips Farms without batting an eye. Their protective plastic clamshells ensure that they’ll arrive home unscathed, and I’ll return the cases as soon as I can. I scoop up a bunch of the farm-grown dahlias, too. I’ve admired them for weeks, and their colors, which grow more intense as fall approaches, remind me my grandmother’s late-summer garden.

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Jumbleberry pie was a favorite dessert of hers, but I don’t think I ever saw an actual recipe until I arrived at Gourmet. It appeared in the July 1991 issue, and I promptly copied the page and stuck it in the back flap of my Filofax. Because it combines ease of preparation with a serious wow factor, it makes a fabulous contribution to a weekend house party. You will definitely be invited back.

That pie has stayed in my culinary bag of tricks for 22 years, now—and amazingly, so has that piece of paper, complete with recipe tweaks and lurid berry stains. It still travels with me every summer. Happy August! See you in September.

JUMBLEBERRY PIE

From The Gourmet Cookbook (Houghton-Mifflin, 2004)

The 1991 recipe was updated for The Gourmet Cookbook, where it was called Three-Berry Pie. It’s served with vanilla cream, which is nothing more (or less) than cold heavy cream beaten to soft peaks with sugar and vanilla. One shortcut to glory if you’re making this at a friend’s house on a weekend is to prepare the pastry dough ahead of time. Form it into two neat disks, wrap well in plastic wrap, then a ziptop bag, and put it in the cooler, on top of ice packs and those bottles of rosé you’ve been hoarding. Toss the sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, and salt in another ziptop bag, and you are in business.

1 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

¼ teaspoon salt

3 cups blackberries

2 cups raspberries

2 cups blueberries

All-purpose flour, for rolling

2 recipes Pastry Dough (for a double-crusted pie)

1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

1 tablespoon sanding sugar or granulated sugar

Accompaniment: Vanilla Cream (see above note)

Put a large baking sheet on middle oven rack and preheat oven to 450ºF. Whisk together granulated sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, and salt in a large bowl. Toss with berries.

Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit it into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a ½-inch overhang. Refrigerate shell while you roll out remaining piece of dough on lightly floured surface into an 11-inch round.

Spoon filling into shell. Cover pie with pastry round and trim, leaving a ½-inch overhang. Press edges together, then crimp decoratively. Brush top of pie with egg wash and sprinkle all over with sanding sugar. With a small, sharp knife, cut 3 steam vents in top crust.

Bake pie on hot baking sheet for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375ºF and continue to bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes more. Cool pie on a rack for at least 3 hours before serving (filling will still be juicy). Serve with vanilla cream.

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