Ulterior motives.

On the menu: Berry Thyme Crumble Pie

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner.

Kevin took his written comprehensive exams early last week. I made him this pie the weekend prior to get him through the last few days of studying for the biggest test of his life.

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner. Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner.

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner. Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner.

Naturally, I had ulterior motives: I was really craving berries. Kevin’s mom makes this killer blackberry pie that I dream about. Being budget conscious, I used half raspberries and half blackberries. Frozen berries, since it’s not their season. And there were a few stray sprigs of thyme in the fridge awaiting their fate, so in they went.

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner. Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner.

Something about these flavors felt appropriate. The deep, sturdy bitterness of the blackberries was brightened with sweet, soft raspberries and grounded with earthy, lemony thyme. It seemed a metaphor for this long ass winter, hopes of summer, and (maybe even?!) signs of spring.

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner.

To appease the brain-drained guy, I topped the pie with a crumble. Crumble pies are Kevin’s favorite. They save me from having to execute the lattice or demonstrating my impatience with pale top crusts. Crumbles allow all kinds of customization, too; they’re easy to tweak to whatever nuts/spices/dried fruit/herbs you may have on hand.

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner. Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner.

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner. Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner.

The pie tasted like all the feelings of late. I want it to warm up so the bees come out. I want the berries to bloom. I want to see if the thyme plant we left in the ground all winter will come back to life. We’ve had a taste of the warmth this week, and I want to hope it’s here to stay.

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner.

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie
cobbled together from the Joy of Cooking, Bon Appetit, and My Kitchen in the Rockies

yield: 1 9-inch pie
prep time: 30 minutes
cook time: 65 minutes

One single pie crust (I switched it up from my usual and used half of Hoosier Mama’s All Butter Pie Dough recipe)

For the crumble topping:
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup (5 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the pie:
2 cups frozen blackberries (one 10 oz package)
2 1/2 cups frozen raspberries (one 12 oz package)
1 1/4 cup sugar, separated
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into 1/4 inch cubes

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare the thyme sugar: add thyme leaves to 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl and rub with your fingers to release the oils. Set aside.

Roll out pie dough and place in a 9 inch pie plate. Style edge of crust as you see fit and place in the freezer.

Prepare crumble topping: melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat and let cool slightly. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and add butter. Mix with your fingers to moisten. Set aside.

Prepare filling: Stir berries, sugar, thyme sugar, and tapioca together in a large bowl. Remove pie crust from freezer and add filling, dotting with the cubes of butter.

Top pie with crumble and bake for 30-40 minutes, watching for the crumble topping to get pretty brown. Reduce heat to 375°F and tent the top of the pie (not the edge of the crust, you still want that to color) and continue to bake for 20-25 until the juices are really bubbling and the crust is well browned.

Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner. Berry Thyme Crumble Pie ~ Documenting our Dinner.

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20 Responses to Ulterior motives.

  1. emma says:

    NUM! I am so looking forward to summery treats! Doesn’t feel right quite yet, as it’s cold and frosty outside, but by midday when the roads are melty and the sun is shining bright, I know I’ll be craving a slice of this. Cheers to spring!

  2. I am such a sucker for a crumble topping!! This pie looks great!

  3. shannon says:

    yay Kevin!! also, it’s TOTALLY berry time (see what i did there? time? THYME? yeah.) oddly enough, i have a raspberry/blackberry combo thing which just came out of the oven: also due to cost, because fresh blackberries aren’t so bad right now, but raspberries? robbery. i want it to be that glorious time of year when all the berries are pennies a pound.
    i love fruit/herb combos, and i use fresh thyme way too infrequently; i need to work on that, because this pie looks (and i imagine it smelled) gorgeous. very summer-teasy. :)

    • Brianne says:

      Summer-teasy! I love that. What I love about fresh thyme is that it lasts forever! Basil, cilantro, and their flimsy friends are gone in a few days, but the thyme is still great (I almost wrote “in mint condition?” Not happening.) after a week or more! It stands the test of thyme? Oh, God. I’ve lost it.

      • emma says:

        Martha once gave me a ziploc bag of thyme and on the outside she wrote “may you never run out of thyme.” i swear but that thyme lasted for MONTHS!

  4. elizabeth says:

    That looks like an ideal transitional winter-to-spring pie, and I love the idea of thyme-scented/flavored sugar. (There needs to be more herbs in sweet baked goods!) And crumble tops FTW–if I ever get around to making a pie,I’d much prefer to make a crumble top than fuss around with a lattice or similar.

    • Brianne says:

      Elizabeth! I’m so sorry for taking this long to get back to you! You’ve never baked a pie?! Oh, you gotta. And crumble tops for the win, indeed. I find that it’s more work for me to make the crumble than it is to roll out the second round of pastry (pie crust recipes make enough for both the top and bottom), but it looks better in the end. I make gross-looking top crusts. But you make foams with your C02 thingy, so that’s pretty rad.

  5. This baby with a good scoop of vanilla ice cream would be my version of heaven :)

  6. Linda says:

    Ah! How’d Kevin do? And when does he find out if he passed? I’m guessing a celebration will be in order very very soon – around the time your husband gets hooded with a fancy schmancy velvet thing and can officially start calling himself a doctor? Congrats Kevin!

    I love your guys’s pie tastes by the way. Crumble tops are my FAVORITE and berries are such a perfect filling, just the right pitch of sweet-sour (along with thyme undertones? Lovely) and so deliciously oozy when they come out of the oven. Now if only spring, then summer would arrive, so we could get our hands on some fresh ripe berries! Life would be perfect.

    • Brianne says:

      Kevin passed! It took TWO WEEKS for his professors to get his test results back to him. But passing comps is the halfway point of a doctoral program. He can call himself a PhD candidate now instead of just a PhD student, but he won’t finish his degree until he defends his dissertation in a couple of years. Gross, right?

      I cannot wait for fresh, ripe berries! I should make more berry pies; this one was such a treat. This cool spring is dragging on forever! Hope you’re well, friend!

  7. This looks gorgeous! (And congrats to Kevin on going ABD! I remember that feeling well…) I love the combination of berries/thyme, though I don’t think I’ve ever tried it out in my own baking (YET), and I’m so intrigued by your use of tapioca instead of corn starch or something for thickening the filling. Now I want summer to get here now!

    • Brianne says:

      Thanks, Allison! The guy and I are both really relieved his comps are done. Thyme is such a great pairing with berries–they’re really earthy and bold together.

      I have to confess: I think the tapioca thickening agent is…not that great. Tapioca grains are really big compared to silky corn starch. I’ve never been able to get the grains to dissolve completely. I’d probably have to add on at least 30 minutes more baking time to get them to go away. So I’m trying to switch to another thickener. But tapioca is what I’ve used since I’ve started baking pies, and I hate change. So let’s see how that goes!

      • Good to know about the tapioca! I have to admit I actually have no idea what “quick cooking tapioca” looks like (whereas I’ve used very large tapioca to make some Asian desserts & as boba for bubble tea, and I’ve bought tapioca flour from an Asian market for baking, although I’m not sure I’ve actually ever used that yet…). But I wonder, since you’re having trouble getting the large grains to dissolve, if you could grind them up (with a coffee/spice grinder or food processor maybe?) before using them… and/or try using tapioca flour I guess. (Basically, I’m still intrigued!) :)

      • Brianne says:

        I should try grinding them up. The box I have is small; it’s made by Minute (the same folks behind Minute Rice), and it’s only half gone! I gotta bake more pies, I guess.

  8. Oh yum! That streusel looks AMAZING!

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