“What’s that?” I puzzled.
“It’s a fantastic pie with raspberries and other berries,” was the reply.
I later learned that Razzleberry Pie, made famous by Marie Callender’s Restaurant, is a combination of raspberries and marionberries. No wonder it’s so good. Here in Texas we have the usual berries—not that exquisite, rarified berry grown and bred in Oregon. A friend suggested I just go to the supermarket and get a ready-made pie out of the freezer section and bake it, or go to Marie Callender’s and buy one.
Good advice. Had I known the investment in berries that would lie ahead, that surely would have been worth considering. But it was a birthday request and I felt duty bound to honor it. Moreover, I was thrilled to have a chance to take a crack at pasta frolla—an amazing Italian shortcrust pastry that I have been waiting for an excuse to make. I’ve danced around it and made many variations; now it was time to tackle it straight on.
Unlike many pie crusts which can be temperamental, pasta frolla is known for its near foolproof qualities and its versatility. This soft, tender dough incorporates eggs and a bit more sugar than usual into a highly malleable and forgiving product. So versatile, it is the basis of many tarts, crostatas, cookies, and it is surprisingly good with both sweet and savory fillings. It can be pre-baked without weights and does not shrink. What’s not to like?
Yes, working with this dough is a dream. I can only caution that the less it is manipulated, the happier it is. As with many pastries, the butter needs to stay cold and not over-stimulated. Here, the food processor makes assembly a breeze: only a few pulses are necessary to mix the dry ingredients, a few more whirls to incorporate the butter, a few more spins to combine the eggs—and it is done. Turn it out onto plastic wrap, form a disc, wrap the dough tight, and allow it to chill up to 3 days.
Pasta frolla practically rolls itself out. Remember to remove it from the refrigerator a good 30 minutes before using. Divide it in two with one larger than the other. The smaller will be used for any lattice work or decorative topping. The easiest way to roll the dough out is between 2 sheets of lightly floured parchment. Roll out the larger into a 12” round, flip it onto a pie plate or tart pan, and press it in. If it tears simply press it back together again. Trim the edges, cut any lattice strips for the top, place them on a tray, and chill all while making the filling. It is that easy!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp lemon zest (optional)
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter (4 oz., cut into 1/8’s)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and optional lemon zest into the work bowl of a food processor with metal blade. Pulse a few times to mix ingredients.
- Add the butter and pulse briefly to cut it in. With machine running, add the eggs and process just until dough comes together.
- Remove the dough from processor and form into a smooth disc. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill well; it can be made up to 3 days ahead. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before using. May be frozen; thaw in refrigerator. Yield: enough for a 9” lattice-topped pie.
For the filling I settled on raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and a few strawberries; absolutely no one complained.
1 recipe Pasta Frolla
Very Berry Filling
- 2 cups fresh raspberries
- 2 cups fresh blackberries
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup strawberries (optional)
- 2/3 cup or more granulated sugar (depending on fruit sweetness)
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp butter, cut in small pieces
- Prepare the pie dough and chill well. Divide it into 2 portions, one larger for the bottom and the remainder for the latticework on top. Keep the smaller chilled. Roll out the larger to about 12”, large enough to fit into a 9” pie plate or tart pan with removable bottom. Gently transfer the dough, and press it up the bottom of sides of the dish. If there are tears, press the edges together and continue. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
- Roll out the second portion of dough into about a 13” round. With a pastry wheel or knife, cut 12 – ¾” strips. Place them on a parchment lined tray and chill while preparing the filling.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Rinse and drain the berries. In a small bowl combine the suga,r cornstarch, lemon juice, and zest. In a large bowl, place the berries, add the sugar mixture and toss gently to combine.
- Fill the pastry with the berry filling and evenly distribute berries. Dot the top with pieces of butter. For lattice, lay 6 of the strips evenly across the top the pie. One at a time, evenly distribute the strips and weave the remaining strips over and under diagonally across the first 6. Trims the ends even with the top and pinch the edges to seal.
- Bake the Pie for 35 to 40 minutes or until the berries are bubbly and the crust is golden. If it browns too fast cover the edges with foil.
- Allow the pie to cool and set for several hours. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.