Apple Blackberry Slab Pie

Summer has just started and temperatures have been hovering close to 100ºF (37ºC). It’s been hard to stay cool but I’ve learned that temperatures are lower first thing in the morning, so I wake up earlier and get some tasks out of the way before the full blast of heat begins to slowly roast me, and my kitchen.

The other thing that’s hitting us at full blast is the deluge of summer fruits. There are so many nectarines, peaches, cherries, and strawberries at the market that I don’t know what to do with them all. And melons and plums are just around the corner, too. So it was odd that I found myself with a windfall of apples.

A neighbor gave me some Pink Lady apples that were leftover from a job he was working on that required apples (stylists often have to create scenarios months ahead for print publications), and although it’s not exactly apple season, being frugal and anti-gaspillage (anti-food waste) are year-round activities. I didn’t want to see them go to waste, so in spite of the withering temperatures, I decided to bake them all up in a big, generous slab pie.

People don’t often pair apples and blackberries, but sometimes (and in some places) serendipity finds them available in the same season, such as in the fall, when Gravenstein apples arrive in Northern California while blackberries are still lingering. Apples go so well together with rich, inky blackberries that you might start hoarding blackberries in your freezer if you go picking this summer, just to make this come fall or winter.

But here I was, in the midst of a canicule (heatwave), cutting butter to make pie dough at 6:41am, and racing to get it into the refrigerator, to make my pie.

Being a line cook for many years inured me to cooking and baking in crazy-hot temperatures, and I can tackle anything, any time of the year, no matter what condition I am in. I’ve put out food while tending ovens in kitchen temperatures that soared to 110ºF (43ºC), after being revived after nearly fainting from badly cutting myself, and once when I was so dizzy from a (non-contagious) malady that I almost fell over several times while doing my shift. But as long as I am vertical, I can – and will – cook.

Working quickly while making and rolling the dough, and assembling the pie, I didn’t have any problems, although by the time it came to crimp the edges of the dough to enclose the apples, things were getting a little sticky, so I didn’t spend too much time on a fancy finish. Instead, I focused on getting the pie into the oven and 45 minutes later, pulled out a golden brown slab of buttery dough with a crunchy sugar topping, enclosing a thick, bubbly fruit filling, that was begging for a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. So I gave in.

Apple Blackberry Slab Pie
Print Recipe
12 to 16 servings
You'll need about 6 pounds (2,75kg) to end up with the right amount of apples. You can use fresh or frozen blackberries. If using frozen, don't defrost before using. In the winter months, especially if you want to make this holiday-friendly, feel free to replace the blackberries with a few handfuls of fresh or frozen cranberries, or scatter bits of traditional mincemeat or quick mincemeat over the apple filling before covering the pie with the top layer of dough. I don't use too much sugar in the pie but if you have very tart apples, or like a sweeter filling, you can use 1 cup (200g) of sugar. I like to sprinkle the top generously with granulated (free-flowing) natural sugar, which goes by several names, but it's darker in color than white sugar and the large crystals give the pie a supremely satisfying crunch. Turbinado or demerara sugar fall into that category; in France, it's called cassonade. French people don't habitually add cinnamon to apple desserts, but if you'd like to do it, you're welcome to add a dusting of it to the apple and blackberry filling mixture.
For the dough
4 cups (560g) flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces, 340g) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
2/3 cup (160ml) ice water, plus more if necessary
For the filling
12 cups (3 pounds, 1,3kg) peeled, sliced or cubed apples
2-3 cups (8-12 ounces, 225-340g) blackberries
2/3 cup (170g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Calvados, Cognac, or brandy, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For finishing the pie
1 egg
1 teaspoon milk
3-4 tablespoons granulated natural sugar (see headnote), or granulated sugar
To make the dough
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand in the large bowl using a pastry blender) mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the cubed butter and mix on medium speed until the butter is broken up into pieces the size of corn kernels. Add the water and continue to mix until the dough just starts to come together. Use your hands to gather the dough into one cohesive mass. (If it feels dry, you can add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it's wet enough to hold together, but don't overdo it.) Divide the dough in two and shape each piece of dough into a rough rectangle about 1-inch (3cm) high. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and chill for a few hours, or overnight.
To make the filling and assemble the pie
2. In a large bowl, mix together the apples, blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and Calvados or vanilla extract.
3. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Have a rimmed baking sheet ready that's approximately 18 x 13-inches (46 x 33cm).
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll one rectangle of the dough so that it's a little larger than the dimensions of the baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet; it may help folding it in half before lifting the dough, then unfolding it once you've got it in the pan. Spread the apple and blackberry mixture over the dough.
5. Roll the remaining rectangle of dough so it's also a little larger than the baking sheet, then drape the dough over the apples. Fold the excess overhang of dough around the edges of the pan underneath the pie then crimp the edges. Make 8 slits in the top of the pie with the tip of a paring knife.
6. Mix the egg and milk together then brush the egg wash over the top of the pie. Sprinkle liberally with the granulated natural sugar then bake the pie until it's deep golden brown on top and thick juices are bubbling from the slits in the top of the pie, about 45 minutes. (Note: I didn't have this issue but you may want to line the oven rack you'll be baking on with foil, or the rack underneath, before baking the pie, to catch any sticky juices that may bubble over.)
7. Let the pie cool a little before slicing.

Serving: Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with a favorite ice cream, such as Vanilla Ice Cream or Cinnamon Ice Cream.

Storage: The dough can be made up to three days in advance and refrigerated. It can also be frozen for up to two months. The pie will keep for up to three days at room temperature but the dough will become less-crisp after the first day.


Apple Blackberry Slab Pie

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39 comments

  • June 28, 2019 5:44pm

    I’m going to make this using up some odds and ends of frozen currants, sour cherries, and berries. Thanks for the inspiration, David! It’s 90-ish in NYC, but I’ll turn on the a/c when the oven goes on.

  • June 28, 2019 5:47pm

    I am not much of a pie baker but your slab pie looks great and I like the apple blackberry combination. It’s foggy and cool here in Santa Cruz.
    Gerlinde

  • Beverly Burgoyne
    June 28, 2019 5:54pm

    I’m surprised by your comment that people don’t often put apples and blackberries together. In British Columbia, it is as natural as breathing in and breathing out! This recipe looks great. I would like to know if you have any tips about preventing the bottom crust from becoming soggy.
    Thanks David!

    • June 28, 2019 6:04pm
      David Lebovitz

      Fruit is, by nature, juicy. (Most fruit is upwards of 90% water.) So it’s going to exude juices when baked, and those juices are usually pretty delicious. I don’t like a lot of thickener in pie so I try to keep it to a minimum. You can brush the bottom of the pastry with jam or egg white before adding the fruit, or sprinkle it with crumbled crackers or something else to absorb the excess juices, but since I don’t mind the thick juices, I don’t worry about it too much.

      • June 28, 2019 6:33pm

        I read—I think in Cook’s Illustrated—that they sometimes microwave their fruits for a few moments (and sometimes high-water-content veg) to release some of the extra water. I’m not one to use the microwave for food myself, but it might not be a bad idea. Their test kitchen is usually pretty reliable.

      • Asa
        June 30, 2019 4:36pm

        I’ve found that sprinkling a bit of almond flour on the bottom of the crust before adding the fruit helps. You suggest that in your Strawberry Rhubarb galette recipe – which I’ve made twice in the past few weeks – it’s so incredibly delicious. And here in Northern New England we’re a little bit behind in the seasons so there’s still rhubarb and strawberries at the Farmers Market. But I love blackberries with apples, so this is a good combination to try sometime.

    • Jeannette
      June 30, 2019 11:03am

      Apple and Blackberry is a very common combination in the UK also, and a very popular one I must say.

  • June 28, 2019 5:54pm

    YUM!

  • Karin Pereira
    June 28, 2019 5:56pm

    I love this idea of a slab pie with using leftover fruit from the farmers market which might otherwise thrown into the garbage can. As for heat, not so sympathetic since I live in Texas where is everybody’s middle name. Yes, we have AC and ceiling fans, but still humidity is high and mosquitoes triple by the minute.

  • Elaine
    June 28, 2019 6:01pm

    “People don’t often pair apples and blackberries”. Here in England we do! It’s a very traditional combo. Probably due to the fact that wild blackberries are ripe at the same time as the first apples. And they taste good.

  • Laura
    June 28, 2019 6:07pm

    David, thank you so much for always including weights with your recipes!

  • June 28, 2019 6:30pm

    Good Lord, I can’t imagine turning on the oven in this canicule—you ARE dedicated! We’ve a heat index at the moment of 112ºF in central France, where I am. Sometimes I do miss having a/c… Just one more day before we dip to the 80s, thankfully!

    But my neighbors were just speculating last night as to how to best utilize what appears is going to be a bumper crop (sans plums/mirabelles) of fruit, and this looks to be the ticket for our next pique-nique. Thank you!

    • June 28, 2019 6:35pm

      David, how high a rim would you recommend on one’s pan? I have a few that might be too shallow…

      • June 28, 2019 9:19pm
        David Lebovitz

        Mine is about 1-inch/3cm high.

  • June 28, 2019 6:43pm

    We are freezing MANY blackberries right now and for at least another week… so yes to blackberries and apples this fall! Thank you for the suggestion – I had not seen it here in this corner of the world – the Ozarks.

  • Bonnie L
    June 28, 2019 6:44pm

    Just made a slab pie with blackberries, cherries, raspberries, and strawberries. Boiled them down a bit to thicken, added 1 1/2 cups sugar, no thickener. It’s still tart but I like it like that. Trying your recipe next time. Love slab pies; individual slices freeze so well.

  • Autumn
    June 28, 2019 7:02pm

    wait… you put baking powder in your pie crust?? Did I miss somewhere when you addressed this?

    • June 28, 2019 9:20pm
      David Lebovitz

      It can give it a little extra “lift” and I thought with the amount of apples it might benefit from a little baking powder in the crust.

  • Louise Yenovkian
    June 28, 2019 7:43pm

    Wonderful recipe. Thank you. Looks delicious and a lovely way to use up a bounty of fruit in California!!

  • Janet Levy
    June 28, 2019 7:46pm

    I’ve made Martha Stewart’s slab pie, which came out quite good. I was going to try your recipe but wanted to use all fresh berries – no apples.

    How would you proportion the fruit – the number of cups of each: raspberries, blueberries and blackberries?

    Any recipe adjustments necessary for the increased amount of liquid from the berries and the lack of bulk from the apples?

    • June 28, 2019 9:22pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know how this would correspond to other fruits or berries. Apricots and plums, for example, require quite a bit more sweetening and nectarines and peaches are quite juicy, so may need more thickener. Best thing would be to modify your favorite filling, multiplying it up maybe 2x or a little more?

  • Gayle
    June 28, 2019 8:11pm

    Nick Malgeiri also puts baking powder in his pie dough. Can these two great bakers be wrong????

    (I think not)

  • Nick
    June 28, 2019 8:30pm

    here in England blackberry and apple pies, tarts and crumbles are a well known phenomenon.
    At one time back when I was a kid we could buy single portion pies – the usual over sweet and pasty just slightly wrong – the perfect portasnack for a kid with a sweet tooth.
    Your version looks far better – once the apples start coming in a week or two I will give it a try
    Thanks for the inspiration – as ever.

  • Pam Chiala
    June 28, 2019 8:51pm

    Beautiful pie! Once again, I admire the plate.

    But pie dough in a stand mixer? I never!

    • June 28, 2019 9:23pm
      David Lebovitz

      You must not have worked in a bakery
      ; ) Rather difficult to make 25 to 50 pounds of dough at a time by hand (!), although some people prefer using one for making a small batch, and some like to use a food processor. I also have a pastry blender but not everyone has one, so I try to give instructions for both.

  • June 28, 2019 11:41pm

    With the pie dough I was curious to see that you didn’t include any kneading of the dough prior to placing it in the fridge (i.e. fraiser la main).

  • Kitty
    June 29, 2019 12:19am

    This sounds so wonderful! Thank you for sharing this and the photographs make the recipe all the more enticing. For the thickening I may use some small instant tapioca as I prefer it to the corn starch. Also dotting the filling with some butter before placing the top crust came to mind. I can’t wait to try this! Also am intrigued with adding baking powder to the pie crust ~ must give that a try!

  • Margaret
    June 29, 2019 4:32am

    This looks good but how could anything be better than your French Apple custard tart???

  • Susie
    June 29, 2019 5:54am

    I have fresh flour on my fingers and keyboard! as i am making it now….you inspired me to use poached quince and apples. thank you for sharing you recipe!

    • Susie
      June 29, 2019 8:18am

      Oh…I forgot to mention it is winter here now in Australia, so perfect recipe for us at this time of the year…just assembling it now together with the pastry…looks divine :)

  • June 29, 2019 6:18am

    This is a great recipe for those of us who have apples in the pantry from our trees last season and they really need to be used up. And blackberries in the freezer from last autumn too. But since I’m in the same heatwave as you, in the Touraine, there is no way I’m making this recipe right now. You are clearly crazy ! :-)

  • June 29, 2019 11:47am

    Oh my, this pie looks gorgeous and so delicious! Such a great summer dessert. I love apple and blackberries together – delicious combo!

  • Sandra Myers
    June 29, 2019 8:15pm

    A slab pie is too big for both of us. To make this as a regular 9”pie, by what percentage would you cut this down? I’m anticipating plenty of future apples and berries as we have berry bushes growing like mad, and apple trees planted earlier this spring.

    • Margle
      July 1, 2019 7:41am

      I think you would cut this down by deciding what size pan you want to use. If your pan if half the size of the original recipe, then try cutting the recipe in half. If that doesn’t work, then adjust from there.

    • ruby
      July 2, 2019 8:12pm

      that’s what neighbors are for ;D

  • Anna
    July 1, 2019 7:24pm

    I wonder how this would go with blueberries instead. I wound up with a bunch the other day. Berries are in full season here now too, practically giving them away.

  • Kathryn
    July 2, 2019 12:50pm

    Hi Daveed,
    I have just finished reading l’appart, and I bought a copy for my sister.
    OMG! That was way beyond reasonable that you went through.
    So wonderful to enjoy your posts since then. Xoxo K Australia

  • Penny Carr
    July 3, 2019 2:31am

    Thank you for your awesome blog which I always enjoy. I’m going to make a berry pie as yours look so delicious. Thank you David for the recipes.

  • Jose
    July 8, 2019 5:51pm

    I made the slab pie for a 4th of July BBQ. It was great! I liked the clean apple flavor: since there was no cinnamon in the pie a clean apple flavor came through. I was worried about having a soggy bottom crust, especially since there was a lot of bubbling juices. I let the pie cool for several hours before we ate it and there was no soggy bottom. I will be making this slab pie again.