This Saturday, October 15, Stampede is hosting a Community Fall Fair in ENMAX Park. A free event featuring pumpkin spice pancakes, wagon rides, live music around the fire, pumpkin decorating AND a Best Pie in Calgary contest! Food blogger Julie Van Rosendaal will be one of the judges at the contest. Here she tells us what she thinks makes a great pie and shares her favourite Saskatoon Berry Pie recipe.

A wise friend once said that the best kind of pie was the kind on your table. I heartily agree – although I do love a good pie, its best qualities tend to be who made it, and why, and with what ingredients? There are crisp and flaky pastries and juicy, flavourful fillings – but the best kind of pie is the one shared among friends. We’ve started having regular pie parties, at which everyone is asked to show up with a pie, which makes everyone insanely happy. Not only is an excuse to make pie, but to eat it – and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love a good pie.

saskatoon pie 2

Fall is traditionally pie season, with apples, pumpkin and stone fruits at their peak, and everyone gathering to celebrate the harvest. It’s the time of year when the house is best warmed by the smell of something delicious baking in the oven. When it starts getting dark early and leaves crunch underfoot, I start craving pie. (OK, I crave pie year-round. But slightly more in October.) The season dictates my pie of choice – rhubarb in the spring, berries in early summer, peach, plum and Saskatoon in late summer, apple in the fall. Of course I always wind up with summer fruits in the freezer, so one season overflows into the next.

saskatoon pie 1

Because we’re in Alberta, I’ll share a saskatoon pie – these hardy berries are delicious on their own, but can also be added by the handful to apple and pear pies for a boost of colour and flavour. And a good, flaky-crusted saskatoon pie makes the very best vehicle for vanilla ice cream.

Saskatoon Pie

Pastry for a double crust pie

5-6 cups Saskatoon berries (fresh or frozen – don’t thaw them)

1/2 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. flour

zest of half a lemon

2 Tbsp. butter, cut into bits

beaten egg or cream, for brushing (optional)

Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425°F

Divide the pastry more or less in half, with one piece slightly bigger than the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece to a circle about an inch bigger than your pie plate; drape it over the rolling pin and transfer to the pie plate, pressing it gently to fit, letting the sides hang over. Roll the other piece out to about the size of the top of the pie.

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Put the berries into a medium bowl and add the sugar mixture and lemon zest; gently stir to combine, then pour into the pastry shell. Top with bits of butter.

If you like, cut the second piece of pastry into strips and make a lattice top; otherwise, lay it over the pie, brushing the edge of the bottom crust with a little beaten egg first, if you like, and trim and crimp the edge. Cut a few slits in the top to let steam escape.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F and bake for another 50-60 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Let cool before slicing. Serves 8.