We have a huge mulberry tree growing in our front yard. My parents planted it when we first moved into the neighborhood, when I was 10, which makes it more than 20 years old. Every spring it is covered with flowers – which look like tiny green mulberries with white curls all over them. We watch them turn pink, hoping that this year will be a good mulberry year.
The tree is always dripping with mulberries, but if the berries ripen at the same time the Cedar Waxwings are migrating through, we won’t get a single one. They flop all over the branches, fat as butter, peeping and gobbling berries all day long. They eat them before the berries even turn purple, and they don’t scare away easily. Even if you vigorously shake the branches, they only reluctantly and heavily flap to another part of the tree.
This year the Cedar Waxwings came early, and missed the mulberries, and the tree is overflowing with berries!
I love mulberries! They are not quite like blackberries, but have their own unique flavor. They spoil quickly once off the tree, so we eat them right after picking. There are three different species of mulberries – red mulberries which are native to Florida and have smaller, but no less delicious of berries – white mulberries from China, and black mulberries that grew wild on the shores of the Caspian sea.
I make the filling for this pie in two ways, which I find brings out the best for flavor and texture. Some mulberries are cooked and blended, and others are added whole just before baking.
For the Filling:
3 quarts fresh mulberries
1 cup water
1/2-3/4 cup honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
- Put 2 quarts of the mulberries to cook with 1 cup water until the berries are very soft.
- Run the berries through a food mill (such as a Foley food mill), or blend them and stir the pulp through a strainer to strain out the stems.
- De-stem the rest of the berries, and set them aside until the crust is prepared. Also reserve the honey until the pie is ready to be filled.
For the Crust:
3 cups of flour;
8 tablespoons of butter;
About 1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Parchment paper, or a thin dish towel for making the lattice
Reserve for topping on the top crust:
1 egg, beaten
1-2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- Mix the flour and salt together with a fork.
- Rub the butter into the flour until you get a crumbly mixture. Make sure to have some fine crumbs (for tenderness) and coarse crumbs (for flakiness)
- Now add the cold milk gradually and knead into a soft dough. You may not need the whole 1/2 cup, or you might have to add a little extra, depending on your flour. Add just enough milk so that it becomes a dry, soft dough. Folding it over and flattening it out several times increases the flakiness as well.
- Flour a work surface, and roll out half the dough slightly larger than your pie pan (save the other half for the top crust). It is easy to transfer a rolled-out crust into a pie pan if you carefully fold it first in half, and then in half again, transfer it to the pie pan, and then unfold it and press it into the edges. Now it is ready to fill! Pour in the cooked filling, and evenly distribute the fresh, de-stemmed mulberries on top. Drizzle the honey over the top.
Now for the top crust:
- Roll out the second half of the pastry to be slightly larger than the pie pan.
- Cut into strips – I used a fancy crinkle cutter, but you can use a regular knife or a pizza cutter.
- Lay 5-6 strips of pastry vertically on the parchment paper (the number depends on how thick you cut the pastry strips and how far apart you want the lattice).
- Begin on one side, and weave a strip of pastry horizontally into the vertical pastry strips. Continue until you have a lovely woven lattice of pastry strips.
This is the hard part – carefully and quickly gather up the parchment and flip it onto the pie crust. Tuck and trim the edges, and crimp them. Now brush on the beaten egg and sprinkle with coconut sugar. Bake at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes.
As for any pastry scraps you might have after cutting the lattice, a fun thing to do is make Pie Crust Cookies! Lay the scraps on a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg. Then sprinkle with coconut sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Pop them into the oven next to the pie, and bake for about 15 minutes.