Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gooseberry Pie

SusanPachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

Producing a gooseberry pie from garden to table is a labor I love. I learned this last week when Pete beckoned us to harvest ripe berries from the community garden. Six of us gathered around the sprawling gooseberry bushes. The pinstriped fruit hung just inside the branches like little lanterns. When I reached in to pluck them, hefty thorns caught my sleeve and clawed at my arm. I popped a berry in my mouth looking for solace and, it made my whole body pucker. The tartness was almost as off-putting as the thorns.

But I kept picking.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

When I got home, I removed the "tails" and "tops" of the berries one-by-one. Then I tackled the pie crust. I am the family baker, but my focus has always been on cookies and cakes. I knew if I stumbled with the pie, it would be with the crust. It could shrink or crack or wind up not flaky enough. So I turned to Martha Stewart and America’s Test Kitchen, two of my favorite teachers, for guidance.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

This week, I took my gooseberry pie to a work night at the community garden. Earlier in the day, I had smothered a slice of it with whipped cream, unable to fully enjoy it without a bit of taming. The gardeners gobbled the rest of it up without a dollop of dairy proving that there is an avid fan base for tart summer desserts.


Makes a 9-inch pie


For crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cold
1/4 cup iced water

For filing

6 cups gooseberries
2 tablespoons water
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dried sweetened coconut


Combine the flour, salt and 1 teaspoon sugar in a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds. Layer the dry ingredients with the butter and vegetable shortening and pulse until it forms coarse crumbs.

Pour the mixture into a bowl. Layer it with the iced water and pulse. Continue until the dough just starts to stick together. (If you need more water, add it one tablespoon at a time).

Form the dough into 2 balls. Place each ball on plastic wrap. Flatten into a disk and cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Pull the tails and tops from the berries.

Put the berries and water in a saucepan
. Cook over medium-low heat until the skin of the berries split and they loose their shape, about 15 minutes.

Add the sugar and flour and stir until the filling starts to bubble. Remove from heat.

Layer a cutting board with the flour. Roll one disk of dough into a 12-inch round. Loosely wrap the dough around the rolling pin. Hold it over the pie plate and unwrap it. Tuck the dough into the edges of the pie plate. Cut excess dough from the edges. Roll the other disk into a 12-inch round and lay it on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Layer the bottom of the pie crust with coconut. Pour the gooseberry filling over the coconut. Use a flower-shaped cookie cutter to cut flowers from the second layer of dough. Lay it over the gooseberry filling. Trim the excess dough from the edges and pinch the seams together. Cut slits in the top of the dough to allow steam to escape.

Brush the dough with heavy cream and sprinkle it with the remaining sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown.

Cool the pie on a baking rack for an hour. Serve with whipped cream (which is apparently optional).

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  1. Oohhh... looks delicious! I might give this a try!

  2. It was tart but delicious! I like the coconut. The whip is a great addition but certainly isn't necessary. For those of us unable to master pie crust, it can probably be adapted to a cobbler.

    Thanks for introducing me to a wonderful new treat!

  3. I never understood why everyone picks the berries when they are green. Allow them to ripen with a tone of pink of red and they are much sweeter to the taste. That's providing you have your own bushes, of course.


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