Boysenberry Pie

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Come late May and early June, my mother’s boysenberry vine comes alive with fruit. Boysenberries look like blackberries, but are actually a cross between blackberries, loganberries, and raspberries. As such they fruit much earlier in the season than blackberries, and they are more delicate in touch and taste. As a vine to cultivate, they aren’t nearly as thorny as blackberries and neither are they as invasive of a plant. I used to grow blackberries in San Francisco and it was a constant struggle to keep them from taking over the yard. (Trivia fact: the hybrid boysenberries were popularized by Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm.)

This berry pie recipe is easy to put together. The tricks are to let the whole berries macerate in sugar first, and to use instant tapioca as a thickener. You can use corn starch instead of the instant tapioca, but we found that it is harder to gauge the correct amount and tapioca has a nice consistency that works well with berries.

Boysenberry Pie Recipe

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Ingredients

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  • 1 pie dough recipe for top and bottom crust
  • 5 cups boysenberries (can substitute blackberries or marionberries), rinsed, picked clean, lightly patted dry (if you use frozen berries, first defrost them and then drain them of excess moisture)
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want your pie)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp quick cooking instant tapioca (you can find it in the baking aisle of your supermarket)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

Method

1 Put berries, sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg, and quick tapioca in a large bowl. Gently fold so that the berries are all coated with some sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2 Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out one ball of pie dough on a lightly floured surface to 12-inch diameter. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with the dough. Chill in refrigerator while you roll out the bottom crust.

3 Roll out second ball of pie dough. If you plan to do a lattice top, as pictured, prepare the dough strips as described in How to Make a Lattice Top for a Pie Crust.

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4 Scoop berry mixture into dough-lined pie dish. If you would like your pie to have a lattice top, weave strips of pie dough over the top of the fruit-filled pie dish. If you would like your pie to have a solid top, place the second rolled-out pie dough crust on top of the pie. Press ends of strips into the rim of the bottom crust. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch. Fold the edges back over themselves and crimp to seal. If you are using a solid top crust, score the top to create air vents.

Gently brush the top with beaten egg.

5 Place pie on middle rack of the oven, on a baking sheet to catch any juices that might bubble over. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie to protect the edges and tops from getting burnt. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until crust is browned and filling is bubbly.

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Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Cool completely before serving (or the filling will be runny).

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Showing 4 of 15 Comments

  • Katie

    Boysenberry pie is a family classic for me, it brings back memories of my grandma’s pie. I tried this recipe for my very first pie ever and my whole family loved it! Boysenberry pie is now the family’s favorite dessert. Thank you for the recipe I have used it about a dozen times in the past year!

    P.s. I have used cornstarch as well as tapioca flour with great results, and I have also substituted lime for lemon when I don’t have it on hand.

  • Mary M

    Hi! I’m a bit of a baking newbie. For the instant tapioca, do we just put it in, in powdered form? So like, not pudding form? Thank you!

    Yes, use the powdered (or granular as it is more aptly described) form. Not cooked. ~Elise

  • Benjie Randall

    Elise,

    This may be a very stupid question. But do I make the instant tapioca with the milk in the microwave and add that to the mixture? Or just add the dry tapioca mix in with the berries and sugar? I’ve never baked a thing in my life but this is my fathers favorite pie and I want to make him one for Christmas
    Thank you
    Benjie

    Just add the dry instant tapioca to the filling ingredients. ~Elise

  • Ed

    Is it possible to construct and then freeze the pie before cooking?
    I’m looking to make 5-6 for a weekend event and I’d like to have them ready to bake and serve from the oven on the day.
    Thank you.

    Yes, though I haven’t done it. I’m guessing that all you have to do is put the pie together, as if it were going in the oven, wrap it in plastic and then foil, and then freeze. Just go straight from freezer to oven and cook a bit longer. If anyone has a different way of doing this, or can confirm that this method works, please let us know in the comments. ~Elise

  • Jill

    Hi Elise,

    I just made this pie! Not quite as pretty as yours, but a big hit with the husband.

    Blackberries are in season here in Northern California. This was the perfect seasonal treat.

    An extra thank you for the tips and tricks making the lattice. I would not have had the guts to try it without your help.

    One question – Whole Foods carries Tapioca starch (which I used) but not instant Tapioca. Does it matter much??

    Warm regards,

    Jill

    Tapioca starch should work fine. ~Elise

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