Sloe Gin Bramble Pie
2kg British blackberries
75ml sloe gin (or brandy or cassis)
250g golden caster sugar
6 tbsp cornflour
1 medium free-range egg yolk, beaten, to glaze
Double cream to serve
For the pastry
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature but not too soft, cubed, plus extra for greasing
400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g golden caster sugar
Good pinch salt
1 medium free-range egg
Put the blackberries in a pan with the sloe gin and golden caster sugar. Set over a low-medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes until you have about 1 litre juice. Drain the blackberries, reserving the juices, then leave to cool completely. Return the juices to the pan and reduce to a thick syrup (see tips). Once the blackberries have cooled, mix them with the cornflour.
For the pastry, briefly whizz the butter with the flour, 50g sugar and salt in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly pulse in the egg, then 2 tbsp cold water, until the dough just comes together. Tip onto a floured surface, split into two (roughly two thirds and one third), then roll each into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap each disc in cling film, then chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 210°C/fan190°C/gas 6½ and put in a baking sheet to heat up. Take the larger disc of pastry out of the fridge. Roll it out to 0.5cm thick on a lightly floured surface and use to line the base and sides of a 5cm deep ceramic or metal flan/pie dish measuring about 18cm across the bottom and 23cm across the top. Once you’ve lined the dish with the pastry, spoon in the cooled blackberries. Put the blackberry-filled base in the fridge.
Roll out the second piece of pastry to a 23cm circle. Remove the dish from the fridge and lightly wet the edges of the pastry base. Top with the second layer of pastry and crimp, using your thumb and forefinger, to seal. With a sharp knife, make a few slits and a hole in the top and, if you like, use any pastry trimmings to decorate (re-roll, cut into shapes and affix with a little water). Brush the top with the beaten egg yolk to glaze it. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes, then glaze again.
Bake on the hot baking sheet for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp – cover the top with foil if it browns too quickly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the dish for 2-3 hours so the filling can thicken. Serve the pie in slices straight from the dish, with lashings of cream.
The syrup from the blackberries isn’t needed in this recipe, but it’s great as a base for a gin and tonic. Or use it to drizzle over sorbets and ice creams (you may need to sweeten it a little).
If you’d like a sugary glaze for the pie, sprinkle the pastry with a little demerara sugar before baking.
Blackberry and Apple Gin
1 bay leaf
200g/7oz caster sugar
750ml/1 ¼ pints gin (I'm from the West Country so use Plymouth Gin)
Chop the apples (no need to peel or core)
Put the chopped apples, blackberries, bay leaf and sugar in a large wide
Pour over the gin and seal the jar.
Shake well and put aside in dark cupboard and shake every few days for 4 weeks.
Strain through muslin or kitchen roll and decant into a bottle.
It's good neat or with tonic or soda and ice.
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