50 State Desserts: Alaska Berry Pie

[Video transcript edited for blog readability]

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Reindeer fat, seal oil, snow, and berries. Okay. I'm willing to eat one, maybe two of those things.

I am back with dessert number two in my 50 State Dessert Challenge. To see dessert number one, the Alabama Lane Cake, check out this blog post.

Alaska is the state that comes second in our alphabetical listing of states. In the Reader's Digest and Taste of Home article that I used as inspiration for my 50 State Dessert Challenge, the Alaska dessert is Akutaq made with those ingredients I listed above. Traditionally, it is made in Alaska at the time of the first seal harvest. These ingredients are not something that is readily accessible to me here in the US Midwest on the edge of the Great Plains. There is an alternative that you can make with vegetable shortening and sugar, but that doesn't actually sound any more appealing.

I am a fairly adventurous eater and I will try most things at least once. So if I found someone who had the resources necessary to make Akutaq, I would probably try it once. What about you? Would you be adventurous enough to try a dessert made out of reindeer fat, seal oil, snow, and berries? Let me know in the comments.

Since I can't get the ingredients to make authentic Akutaq and the vegetable shortening and sugar version doesn't sound very appetizing, I'm going off-book for state number two and making my own recipe for Mixed Berry Pie. Berry desserts are very popular in Alaska because they have a lot of different edible berries that grow there and not a lot of other fruit options that grow there.

This is a ridiculously easy pie to make with only four main ingredients - store-bought pie crust, frozen mixed berries, sugar, and corn starch - and two finishing touch ingredients - egg and coarse sugar.

As with all baking recipes, we need to start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

Measure four cups of frozen mixed berries into a large bowl. As you're measuring, you want to make sure that you're measuring level and erring on the side of fewer berries, rather than more berries. If you get too many berries, you're going to introduce too much extra liquid into the pie. You run the risk of the pie filling overflowing or being loose.

Once you have your berries measured, add in your sugar and your corn starch - three-quarters of a cup of sugar and one-third of a cup of corn starch - and mix. Set it aside to rest while you prep your pie crust.

Roll out one pie crust in a nine-inch pie plate. Most of my pies... okay, all of my pies.. use store-bought pie crusts because I am a little intimidated by making my own pie crusts. I recently read a cozy mystery, not a cookbook, called Magic Lies and Deadly Pies that's due out in May. I connected with the author on Instagram and she posted a video on her YouTube channel about how to make butter pie crusts. I am hoping to make some crusts in the future and have them in the freezer. In fact, I am committing myself right now that the next state pie that requires a pie crust I am going to have made the pie crust myself. That would be Idaho's huckleberry pie. So I have a little time, but we're going to hold me to it. I'm going to make homemade pie crust.

Once the berries have rested for 10 to 15 minutes, pour them into your prepared pie crust and make sure that the sugar and cornstarch are evenly distributed around the pie. Roll out your second pie crust. You can cut it into strips and do a lattice top or you can do a pretty fancy top. Most of the time when I make this pie, I'm making it to make something as easy and simple as possible. I will usually just cut a few vent holes in the top and then fold and crimp the edges together.

One last step before the oven - crack one egg open and whip it up pretty good. Use that to apply an egg wash over the top of the crust and then sprinkle some coarse sugar, like turbinado sugar, over the top of the crust.

Place your pie on a baking sheet to help protect your oven from any possible overflowing pie filling, and then put on a pie shield. You can either use a ready-made pie shield, or you can make your own out of aluminum foil. If you are using a pie shield, you want to take it off about 15 to 20 minutes before the big time is done.

Fruit pies do take a long time to bake. Bake it in the oven for one hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remember to take the pie shield off at about the one-hour mark.

Now here is the really difficult part about fruit pie. A fruit pie needs to cool at least four hours before it is ready to be eaten. So this is not "make it after dinner and eat it that night". This is a "make it in the morning" or "make it the day before" sort of dessert, but it is so worth it.

This pie is so easy and so tasty. With a family of five, pies do not last long in my house. I do tend to go more for cakes and cookies because they last a few more days than pies do, but we really love pie in my family. And this one is nice because it's pretty quick and easy to put together.

You can grab a printable PDF of the recipe below. Be sure to subscribe so you are notified every time I post about decluttering, baking, and intentional living.

Until next time, I hope your days are increasingly clutter-free and filled with the people and things that matter the most to you.

Alaska Mixed Berry Pie - Finding Harmony
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