Not-so-humble pie: Bumbleberry is a berry-lover’s dream

You know what the problem with this pie is?

My photos don’t do it justice.

If you like berry pie (though amazingly, there are those who don’t), this is the best gosh-darned dessert you’ll ever taste: à la mode, dans la bouche.

This starts to give you a better idea.

But it still doesn’t fully communicate the oozy berry goodness, the compelling combination of raspberry and blackberry and blueberry and whatever-berries-from-last-summer-you-had-in-the-freezer.

Are you beginning to get the picture?

If I’ve convinced you to make Bumbleberry Pie, come along as I first show you what NOT to do.

Crust attempt #1: I rolled out my beautifully tender crust. Picked it up to transfer it to the pie pan.

TOTAL DISASTER. Couldn’t move it a single inch without it falling to pieces. I retrieved the pieces, threw them on a pan, and baked ’em, just because I knew they’d be tasty (they were).

But don’t go here!

So, call me a glutton for punishment. Crust attempt #2: what if I take that same crust recipe, shape it right on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan, add the filling, and gently fold the crust up around the filling?

Strike one: the crust still broke apart as I folded it over the filling.

“But I can patch it,” she said, hopefully.

Strike two: the crust sprang leaks like the little Dutch boy’s dam as the pie baked.

“But I’ll plate it in the kitchen, it won’t look too bad,” she said, doubtfully.

Strike three: Total collapse on the way from pan to plate. I mean, it was ugly.

Well, I may have fallen off the turnip truck, but it wasn’t yesterday.

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with my favorite pie crust recipe; why not use it?” she said, swallowing a big slice of humble pie along with her hubris.

Let’s get down to business here, and make some NOT-humble Bumbleberry Pie.

First, the crust.

Place the following in a bowl:

1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk until thoroughly combined. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, and mix until evenly crumbly.

Dice 4 tablespoons cold butter into cubes or cut into small pats, and add it to the dry ingredients.

Work the butter into the dry ingredients to make an unevenly crumbly mixture.

Can you skip the shortening, and use all butter? Sure; your crust will tend towards sandy rather than flaky, that’s all.

And why is that, you ask? Because shortening has a higher melting point than butter; and the higher the melting point of the fat, the flakier the crust.

Mix in 4 tablespoons ice water. Continue to add water, mixing as you go, until the dough starts to come together; you might add up to another 2 tablespoons or so.

Add another 1/2 tablespoon of water, and scrape the dough together with your hands. Grab it in one ball; if it holds together nicely, with no dry parts breaking off, it’s good to go. If it still seems a bit dry, add ice water by the teaspoonful until it’s cohesive.

Place the dough on a floured work surface, and shape it into a rough disk. I love the ease afforded by a silicone rolling mat – not only does the dough not stick; when you’re done, you just pick up the mat, shake any excess flour into the compost or rubbish bucket, and rinse clean.

Roll the disk on its edge, like a wheel, to smooth out the edges.

This step will ensure your dough will roll out evenly, without a lot of cracks and splits at the edges later.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.

Wait a minute – don’t I need two pieces of dough, for top and bottom crusts?

Feel free to make this pie in a traditional double-crust format, using your favorite double-crust recipe. But we love to showcase the berries’ vibrant colors by placing them in an oversized bottom crust, then bringing the edges up to partially cover the berries, while leaving the center of the filling uncovered.

While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 400°F, and make the filling.

We’ll start with the berries.

Can you use fresh berries? Sure. Especially if you’ve picked them yourself, and have a surfeit. But buying fresh berries can be quite expensive and not worth the money in pie, where frozen do just as well. If you’re not fortunate enough to have some of last summer’s berries left in your freezer, store-bought are fine.

I particularly like Wyman’s, as the berries are smaller and more intact than those from other manufacturers.

Assuming you’re using frozen berries, place 7 to 8 cups (about 27 to 30 ounces) in a microwave-safe bowl. If you’re using store-bought frozen berries, 2 bags should be sufficient.

Microwave them briefly, just until they’re thawed.

You’ll notice they’ve given off some juice. A couple of tablespoons is OK, but more than that – drain it off, and enjoy it in sparkling water.

Add the following to the berries:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Pie Filling Enhancer or 1/3 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

What if you don’t like cinnamon? Leave it out, by all means.

Stir to combine.

Wow, look how the sugar draws the juices from the berries – how come? Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water. And berry juice.

OK, back to the crust.

Roll the chilled pie crust into a 13″ to 14″ circle, with the edges a bit thinner than the center.

As you roll, be sure to keep the underside of the crust well-floured, to prevent sticking; a giant spatula makes lifting the crust (to dust flour underneath) easy.

Next, we’re going to transfer the crust to a 9″ pie pan, one that’s at least 1 1/4″ deep.

This is where my first crust fell apart… literally!

Fold the crust in half…

Then in half again.

Lay the crust with the point of its triangle in the center of the pan…

…and unfold it, completely. You’ll have a large overhang of crust.

Spoon the filling into the crust.

Next, bring the crust up and over the filling, giving it a few pleats so it settles nicely.

Some people are able to do this quite artfully; I’m not one of them. That’s why I call this crust technique “rustic” – it covers a multitude of artistic sins!

There should be a 4″ to 5″ circle of uncovered filling in the center.

Brush the crust with milk; it’ll help it brown nicely.

Sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.

Set the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet, to catch any potential spills. Place it on the lower rack of your oven, and bake for 35 minutes. Starting on the lower rack will help the pie’s bottom brown nicely.

Transfer to an upper rack, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Remove the pie from the oven. Bubbling berries! Golden brown crust! Pat yourself on the back.

But don’t cut the pie – yet. Tempting as it is, the filling has to set; cut it now, you’ll have a lava-flow of berries rushing into the breach created by lifting out that first piece of warm pie.

Trust me; you need to wait a few hours before you serve this. If you’re a fan of warm pie à la mode (and who isn’t?), warm each serving very briefly in the microwave before topping with ice cream.

One last shot: see that beautifully browned bottom crust? No flabby white bottom crust when you bake on your oven’s lowest rack; and use a dark(ish) metal pan.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Bumbleberry Pie.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Sandra Alicante

    Oh my, I’ve just gone to heaven. Or at least I will when I get a mouthful of this. I even have the berries in the freezer but I’ll have to buy more because if I don’t bake this when my elder son visits in a few weeks, he’ll never speak to me again. He’s nuts about forest fruits as the mix is called in the UK. Actually, there are fresh cherries going cheap at the moment, I’ve not baked much with cherries before, would they stay all nice and pretty?

    I wouldn’t call them pretty, exactly, though they do hold their shape. They’re also a LOT less juicy than the forest fruits, though. If you use straight cherries, you could try this crust recipe and technique, but go with a cherry pie filling recipe, like that for our Presidential Cherry Pie, cutting back on the sugar a bit to account for what I assume are your sweet cherries on sale. Or, chop the cherries and use them as part of this Bumbleberry recipe – that would be good, too. Enjoy1 PJH

  2. erinhibshman

    Yummy! I have been looking for something to use up my freezer collection of fruits before the this year’s bounty comes on in earnest in the next few weeks. I will have to make this for my co-workers this week – as I JUST put a blueberry pie bar into the oven for today’s picnic. Thanks for a delicious way to use those berries!! 🙂

    I’m sure they’ll be singing your praises, Erin… 🙂 PJH

  3. mikest

    Ah, so Pie Filling Enhancer is a thickener as well (I have to admit I didn’t look to see what it actually was), I thought it was one of those great flavor enhancers.

    Okay, I’ve got to ask either you guys or Erin… What are Blueberry Pie Bars? Sounds yummy!!! 🙂

    Erin, would you share? Post to our community, if you like- PJH

  4. zairesabode

    PJ – I may never make a double crust pie again! Love the look, the simplicity, dressing it up with cutouts is a cinch, and the bottom rack idea is great. Can’t see why it wouldn’t translate to any recipe????? Thanks for always giving me a new twist to try~!

    Tory, should translate to any double-crust pie – though some fillings might be more/less attractive than others. I’ve been doing it this “lazy” way for years – saves rolling 2 crusts. You can roll it even thinner to there’s just a quarter-sized hole in the very center, if you like, then it looks like a true double-crust pie. Have fun – PJH

  5. Susan from upstate NY

    We love bumbleberry pie, but where’s the rhubarb?! All the bumbleberry pie we had in Canada had rhubarb which makes it perfect for this time of year. Our recipe has 1 cup EACH blueberries, raspberries (we like black), sliced strawberries and chopped rhubarb, plus 2 cups chopped, peeled baking apples. This takes it from “mixed berry” to “bumbleberry”…IMHO.

    Susan, indeed, many bumbleberry recipes include rhubarb and/or apple. And I’d wager the “official” bumbleberry pie has those ingredients. But I love the name, and have always applied it to any mixed berry pie – it’s such fun to say, compared to “mixed berry,” don’t you think? 🙂 PJH

  6. Doris H.DeSaulnier

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. I like the “rustic” part of the crust (I make one with apples), but my question is this-why a dark metal pie pan – can I use glass (LeCruset) and/or just assemble it on parchment on a baking sheet??

    I like dark metal because it really does a nice job browning the crust. But of course, use whatever method you like; bake on the bottom rack for awhile, though, as that helps, too. PJH

  7. gema

    Going back to an email about ClearJel. Since I have ClearJel do I use the same volume (1 5/8 oz) as a substitute for the Pie filing Enhancer? Love your website!!!!

    Gema, I’d think you’d use 1/3 to 1/2 as much – the Enhancer includes superfine sugar and ascorbic acid, as well. Use the lesser amount for a thinner filling, the greater for thicker- PJH

  8. Brenda

    Don’t know what Erin’s blueberry pie bar is, but from what I find for recipes, think it will be necessary to make some day; YUM! Only like blueberry pie made with fresh wild blueberries (not too picky, huh?), but the bars should do nicely with frozen wild blueberries.

  9. shannon9585

    I’m assuming your Pie Filler Enhancer is a better thickener than flour (I’ve never used the enhancer) because you need less of it. How does it compare to tapioca flour? Tapioca flour has been my go-to starch for thickening pies lately, do you know how it would work in this pie?

    (And why use all purpose flour rather than cornstarch?)

    I really dislike pies with runny fillings, so I’m curious about which thickeners work best and why.

    Instant ClearJel is the main ingredient in Pie Filling Enhancer; we like it as a thickener because, unlike flour, it provides a clearer, more deeply colored filling; and unlike cornstarch, there’s no potential “gluey” texture. Tapioca: I can’t recall the side by side comparison, other than that we preferred the ClearJel/Pie Filling Enhancer; but tapioca would work just fine, I’m sure. Hope this helps- PJH

  10. larrym17

    This is one of my son-in-laws favorite pies that I make and I’m so glad that you posted the recipe as I’ve had some issues with all the juice from frozen berries. Now, I know what to do! I also use tapioca flour for my thickener and it works great. And yes, I have some frozen blueberries that we bought last summer in Maine and I want to use them up. Thank you again for all the wonderful recipes that you post–KA is my go to site for all my dessert recipes.

    Enjoy, Larry- figuring out the right amount of thickener for berry pies is always a roll of the dice; it’s nice when you hit it just right! PJH

  11. zairesabode

    PJ – I think you just threw down the gauntlet!… “You can roll it even thinner so there’s just a quarter-sized hole in the very center, if you like, then it looks like a true double-crust pie.” That’s gonna be one BIG piece of pie dough…. but I’ve had my eye on that giant spatula for a while now. I think it would be a super assistant! 🙂

    Tory, the giant spatula would work (I think) even with this size of circle if you fold it in quarters first, as directed – have at it! 🙂 PJH

  12. Irene in TO

    The advantage of using fine tapioca (the kind sold for making milk puddings) is that it has to sit with the fruit and sugar before you cook the pie. Check the box to see if there’s a pie recipe tucked into a corner. Use 1 tablespoon tapioca per pound of cleaned frozen fruit to start.

    DO NOT DISCARD fruit juices as stated above. Mix tapioca in with the fruit and sugar and let sit 15 minutes. You will see that the tapioca has started to absorb the juice.

    If the fruit (usually raspberries/blackberries/loganberries) is releasing too much juice, it will look like a VERY wet puddle even with the tapioca. In that case you sprinkle another teaspoon of tapioca and let it sit another 5 minutes.

    There should be a small amount of liquid still visible before you bake this kind of filling, as the tapioca absorbs a good amount in cooking. Fruit like blueberries will look drier, but cooks up juicy as the berries burst in the oven.

    Cobblers can be served straight from the oven if you insist. Pie juice will bubble thickly at the end of cooking, so to cut slices you have to wait. You end up with with a clear filling without lumps. Ideally the tapioca bits dissolve completely and disappear into the cooked juice.

    Thanks, Irene, very helpful info. – PJH

  13. raquel.erecipe

    I love blueberry as a filling in a pie, and I love your recipe it looks really tempting, One thing I love eating blueberry is being very rich in antioxidants like Anthocyanin, vitamin C, B complex, vitamin E, vitamin A, and it boost up your immune system and prevent infections.

  14. erinhibshman

    I did add the blueberry bar recipe to the Baker’s Community for all of those interested from the thread above. Thanks for the link PJ, I had never added a recipe before, but it was a piece of cake (or bar… couldn’t resist the pun)!

    Oh, thanks so much! I’m checking it out ASAP- PJH

  15. sofia100

    PJ, I just bought 4#’s of fabulous fresh strawberries. Is there any way to use them in the pie instead of frozen? I will make the frozen too, it’s just how much strawberry sorbet can a girl eat?

    Absolutely, Sofia – fresh strawberries in this pie would be absolutely wonderful… go for it! PJH

  16. Pamela Lanier

    Very well detailed and cogent instructions.
    I have sent this to my daughter who is in a college culinary program.
    My favorite kind of pie is scrumptious but unpretentious.


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