There’s nothing quite like August in Oregon. The days are long, the wildflowers abundant, and the mountains, valleys, rivers, and coastline never more beautiful than in the slanted orange glow of an August sunset.
And for Cinnamon Peters, the pie-baking heroine of The Christmas River series, August means one other thing: marionberry pie.
Sweet, plump, juicy, and utterly delicious, fresh marionberries can be found at roadside fruit stands all over Oregon this time of year. To celebrate the season, here’s Cinnamon’s good old standby recipe for marionberry pie. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity: with berries so flavorful, the filling needs nothing more than a little sugar and cornstarch to make the flavor really pop! Also, don't be afraid of using the tequila in the pie crust: it's a secret ingredient to make the pie crust extremely flaky and delicious. Just make sure it's extra cold!
Cinnamon’s Marionberry Pie
6 cups of frozen marionberries, thawed (I used frozen for this recipe as fresh marionberries are just about impossible to find outside of Oregon because they are highly perishable.)
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1 cup sugar
Dash of cinnamon
1. Mix together the thawed berries, cornstarch, sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (cut into chunks)
1/2 cup chilled vegetable shortening (cut into chunks)
1/4 cup of cold tequila (secret ingredient!)
1/4 cup of cold of water
1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Add butter and vegetable shortening and cut into flour mixture with a pastry cutter. When mixture becomes pebbly, sprinkle cold tequila (make sure it's very cold) and cold water over mixture. Gently work in until dough comes together. Split dough into two even rounds and flatten into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out one disc of pie dough and press into pie dish. Refrigerate crust for ten minutes, then bake crust for ten minutes in oven (refrigerating the crust beforehand ensures that it won't lose its shape during baking.)
3. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Add marionberry filling. Roll out second disc of dough and cut lattice strips from it, or, if you're feeling more playful, use cookie cutters to create a fun topping (Cinnamon likes squirrel cookie shapes in particular.) Place shapes on top of pie. Crack egg and whisk it together in a small bowl. Wash egg over crust and pie top. Sprinkle with extra sugar.
4. Bake pie at 375 degrees for 55 to 65 minutes, until the filling bubbles and the crust is golden brown. I like to place the pie dish on a cookie sheet in case anything bubbles over. If the crust edge starts turning dark, cover with foil.
5. When ready, remove pie from oven. Let cool for at least three hours. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream. Best enjoyed with an August sunset and good friends!