This recipe pretty much sums up everything we have been eating this past week, mainly blackberries coupled with ice cold shots of Soplica direct from the freezer. Soplica is a Polish vodka that has been around since 1891, although in our freezer it’s only been around for a week and already we are draining the dregs from it. It was a present from someone who obviously knows us too well. You can get it in a number of different flavours but the one we have is hazelnut. The flavour is so pure, smooth and intense with nuttiness that we swooned at the first sip but it is quite different from Frangelico, the Italian hazelnut liqueur which is heavier. The Soplica just feels a little more summery. Although you could happily substitute Frangelico in this recipe without feeling the loss.
Every year we are inundated with blackberries, there are bushes and bushes bursting with shiny blackberries all over Parkland Walk and throughout Stroud Green and I can’t walk past a glorious hedgerow plump with fruit without pulling out a bag from my pocket and filling it up there and then. My husband is the same and it seems whenever we take the puppy for a walk, together or individually, then inevitably we will return with a bag overflowing with the precious bramble treat. The past two weeks I have been churning through blackberry recipes like a demon, I have made jams, jellies, chutneys, vodkas, gins and a few favourite ones which I am going to share this week. That’s right, this week is Blackberry Week on Stroud Green Larder. Like Shark Week but less toothy and more sugary.
I have been craving pie for some weeks and I love to fill a pie with beautiful colours which is why the blackberries jumped right in. Lattice topped pies work well in the summer months as the pastry doesn’t overwhelm plus it’s always tempting to see the glossy filling straining at the seams. Although I have come to realise that I am simply rubbish at lattice tops. It doesn’t matter how many I have done in the past or how often I watch Paul Hollywood for tips on the best way to construct it, I manage to bugger it up every time. I must have spent about half an hour carefully plaiting this little number; over and under, over and under and yes it did look a little skewiff but it was better than usual. Or so I thought until I was cutting myself a nice big slab after the bake and I noticed that I had repeated the pattern right in the middle of the pie. How had I not noticed this? I am resolving to practice my lattice work. The Great British Bake Off is starting this week and I know my plaiting would definitely not make the grade.
Still, is it really that important when the pie tastes so damn good? Blackberries don’t get nearly as much credit as the other berries on offer in the summer but I think they are much more versatile that the raspberry or the strawberry. The fruit you pick is often a mixture of sweet and tart and that lends such a complex level of flavour in your recipe. I didn’t include a vast amount of sugar here as the cinnamon adds sweetness and the Soplica is also very sweet but it all comes together to allow the blackberries to shine. The chocolate in the recipe comes from the pastry which is flavoured with cocoa. I always follow Richard Bertinet’s methods for pastry but here I felt I needed to add a little more sugar than he suggests to compliment the cocoa. The pie is delicious, hot, warm or cold but I do recommend eating it with a healthy dollop of clotted cream on the side and of course a little more Soplica to aid digestion.
Blackberry, Soplica and Chocolate Pie
350g plain flour
Good pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, cold
135g caster sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
¼ tsp cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
3 tbsp tapioca pearls
1 tbsp milk + 1 egg yolk for pastry wash
- First prepare the pastry by placing the flour, cocoa and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Remove the butter from the fridge and slice thinly. Add to the mixing bowl and rub it into the flour and cocoa with your fingertips until it has formed rough breadcrumbs.
- Tip in the caster sugar and mix in, then add the eggs and yolk and bring it all together into a dough, tipping out onto your work surface to finish the job.
- Weigh out 2/3 of the dough, pat into a circle then wrap in cling film. Wrap the other 1/3 in separate cling film and place both dough circles into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
- Roll out the larger piece of dough into a large enough round to fit a 24cm round pie plate. Lay the pastry onto the plate and trim the edges. Place back in the fridge. Remove the smaller piece of dough from the fridge and roll out to about the thickness of a pound coin. Slice the dough into even strips, then arrange them in a lattice onto a plate. Place the plate in the fridge to chill.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Now you can make the filling. Place all of the blackberries into a saucepan with a splash of water, the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Heat gently until the blackberries have completely softened and turned into a puree.
- Remove from the heat then add the Soplica and tapioca pearls. Stir in until the tapioca pearls have begun to absorb the liquid from the blackberries and the Soplica has mixed in.
- Remove the pastry case and the lattice from the fridge. Pour the blackberry filling into the pastry case and then tip the lattice on top of the pie. Press down the edges of the pastry together.
- Mix together the milk and egg yolk then brush over the top of the lattice evenly.
- Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes when the pastry will be crisp and the blackberries bubbling up from within.
- Serve warm with cold clotted cream.