Pie Day 2010
I love pie.  love. love. love.  My pie baking adventures began a year ago with a local pie baking contest.   It's a year later, and I have developed a tiny little obsession with all things pie.  Pie day 2010 was a huge success.  Having never made a pie prior to preparing for this contest, I was thrilled to walk away with 3 wins:  best fruit pie, people's choice pie, and grand prize pie.  I owe it all to practice, practice, practice.  And a crust recipe that can't be beat.
Practice Pie #1::  Peach Raspberry with a Lattice Top Crust

Although this pie turned out a pretty picture, I learned so many 'what not to do's' from this pie. 

1::  stick to the recipe. 

I totally freaked out the first time I made a homemade crust.  I had all my ingredients ready.  I was excited to break in all my brand new tools.  The bowl was chilled, the butter frozen, the water iced....  I followed the recipe exactly, but my crust was not coming together.  I lost it.  I just started adding water.  No measuring...just started adding until I had a nice dough. 
Whew!!  I thought that I had totally dodged a bullet.  I carefully wrapped my dough and placed it in the fridge.   Success! 
Not so much.  Although my dough was easy to work with and rolled out like a dream, the result was a chewy mess.  Water---too much and you have a pie's worst enemy.  I knew better now and did better next time.  Key::  don't. freak. out. 
Practice Pie #2::  Blackberry Apple with a Lattice Top Crust

This pie was not a total disaster, but I learned much from this little pie.  Most importantly, a lattice top crust is REALLY hard.  I watched all the videos I could on how to attain the perfect lattice top, only to find that at crunch time it can go terribly wrong.  I do think a lattice crust has its place.  But, not for the novice pie baker.  It compromised my filling as well.  It was dry and tough.  These are two adjectives you do not want describing your pie. 
I did, however, with the help of my foodie friend Felicitas discover the magical ingredient Sparkling White Sugar.  Thank you friend and King Arthur Flour Company for introducing me to what I like to call "the ace in my back pocket." 

Practice Pie #3::  Double Crust Blackberry Apple

I gave up on the lattice top and went with the double crust.  I am so glad I did!  This pie was delicious, but I left off my magical sugar ingredient.  I think I was overwhelmed by the process and fearing another pie disaster.   I freaked out.  Remember::  don't. freak. out. 
Anyway, I had found my contest worthy pie filling and crust method.  I was ready to go! 

Contest Pie::  Double Crust Blackberry Apple with Sparkling White Sugar

Contest day was here, and I was pleasantly surprised...I had managed, after much practice, to make a very pretty and super tasty pie!  I had burns all over my hands and arms and had gained about 8 pounds...
 but I WAS READY!!  

My Pie!!

I won!!

My prize!!

I did it!  I went from just pie lover to pie baker in just a few months!! 

So, now for the recipe... 
I can take no credit for the crust...  It comes from my absolute favorite food blog smittenkitchen.com.  

Blackberry Apple Pie
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ sticks frozen unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup vodka, cold (don’t skip this…vodka will cook off and leave an amazingly crisp crust (promise!))
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon cold water

Measure out and combine all dry ingredients into a cold mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour mixture and begin working them in with a pastry blender so all parts are worked evenly.  When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas, stop combining.     
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough starts to stick together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a disc. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 days. 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out pie crusts on a lightly floured surface.  Fit bottom crust into a pie dish.  After the bottom crust is fit into the pie plate with a 1 inch overhang, cover and refrigerate for ½ hour.   Place rolled out top crust on a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and refrigerate until needed.  Prepare Filling.            
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 medium Granny Smith Apples
3 medium Golden Delicious Apples
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely ground tapioca
2 cups fresh blackberries
1 Egg, beaten
 3 tablespoons Sparkling White Sugar

Combine lemon juice and vanilla in a large bowl. Peel, core and cut apples into 1/8 inch slices, tossing them in the lemon juice mixture as you work. 
Grind 2 tablespoons tapioca in a clean coffee grinder until very fine. 
Mix 2/3 cup granulated sugar and finely ground tapioca and toss with apples. Add blackberries.  Combine until all fruit is coated with sugar. 
With a rubber spatula, scrape the apple-blackberry filling into prepared pie shell.  Distribute fruit evenly.   Top with remaining crust, fold edges under and crimp as desired.  Vent the top crust with a few slits.   Moisten a pastry brush with egg wash and lightly brush top of pie. Sprinkle with Sparkling White Sugar. Place the pie on a parchment lined baking sheet.    
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake until crust is golden, about 45 to 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.   

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