I've heard that Oprah doesn't like using the word "luck" or "lucky' to describe happenings. For her, using the word luck takes away the hard work someone has done and she chooses to define luck as "when preparation meets opportunity". I used to think that people were just lucky to be able to do things that they loved and that somehow an angel had tapped them on the head and ushered them through some gilt edged doors and they had gone to meet their destiny.
But the more I worked on this blog the more I realised that when people told me that I was lucky to be able to be doing what I was doing whilst I agreed - I did feel like an angel tapped me on the shoulder, I also knew that had worked hard to be able to do this (and I also think that a good dash of persistence helps too). It is hard work, but it's also enjoyable work.
I also feel that angels somehow do help me out on some days and that things show themselves to me and it's up to me whether I want to take the hint or not. I took the hint with this 1kg bag of blackberries that I happened to come across during my search for great deals in Marrickville. A 1 kg bag of gorgeous whole blackberries set me back a tiny $4.50. I stuffed them in my freezer knowing that I wanted to make a blackberry pie. Berry pies, because berries are so expensive, are not quite as feasible here in Australia where in city areas, a 120g/4oz punnet of fresh blueberries can go for up to $9.99.
The dough recipe was another example of persistence but not mine in this case, it is from the fantastic Rose Levy Beranbaum who experimented 50 times to get the recipe just right. As a result, the pastry is divinely light, golden and flakey and the perfect casing for this blackberry filling (and it would be divine in a Shepherd's pie too). The flakiness does mean that it's not suitable for a lattice topping but the pastry is a dream to work with - non sticky and just the right texture and a bit of resting does it wonders. The filling was based on Pie Queen Julie's gorgeous red berry pie where she used ground up tapioca and the pectin from a Granny Smith apple. And that was another case of persistence (hers, not mine).
And another stroke of luck for me? Having friends like Gina and Teena who bought me this wonderful pie plate complete with singing bird for my birthday among other goodies. OK... perhaps I am very lucky indeed.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you think that you are a lucky person or not and why?
Blackberry Pie with Flaky Golden Cream Cheese Crust
For cream cheese crust (slightly adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum)
12 tablespoons/170g unsalted butter, cold
2 cups + 3 tablespoons pastry flour or 2 cups (dip and sweep method) bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (for savoury recipes, use 1 1/2 times the salt)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon caster or superfine sugar
1 1/2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, cold
2 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
4 cups blackberries
1 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca ground up
1 granny smith apple, grated
1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk for egg wash
1-2 tablespoons sugar extra
Step 1 - Cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a recloseable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Set the bag aside.
Step 2 - Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a pea. (Toss with a fork to see it better.) Remove the cover and add the water and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together. Spoon it into the plastic bag. (For a double- crust pie, it is easiest to divide the mixture in half at this point.)
Step 3 - Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.
Step 4 - Wrap the dough with the plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc (or discs) and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight. (For a pie shell and lattice, divide it in a ratio of two thirds:one third use about 9.5 ounces for the shell)
Step 5 - Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and butter the bottom and sides of your pie dish. Divide dough into two lots-one about 1/3 of the weight and the other 2/3 of the weight. Roll both out into a disc shape using a small amount of flour so that it doesn't stick. Place the larger disc in the pie dish and trim the edges with a paring knife and place both the dough in a pie dish and the other round in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
Step 6 - In a large bowl, add the filling ingredients and toss to combine. Place pie bird (if using) or cut out vents (you don't need to do both) and then fill the pie crust with the fruit filling. Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash along the edges of the pie pastry. Place smaller rolled out pastry disc on top pressing down with your thumb to make the egg wash stick the top of the pastry to the bottom and trim the edges again. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with extra sugar.
Step 7 - Bake in 200C/400F oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180C/350F and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then slice into wedges.