Bake a Blackberry Balsamic Pie this Weekend

A few years ago we shared a recipe for blackberry balsamic pie with sea salt and walnut crumble on Design Sponge. Due to popular request, we decided to post it again! We are in the thick of blackberry season right now and this pie is definitely worth making. It’s simple, yet sophisticated. The balsamic and lemon zest in the filling enhances the bold flavor of the blackberries, while the walnuts and sea salt in the crumble balance the sweetness. Check out the recipe below. Happy baking!


Blackberry Pie

Blackberry Balsamic Pie with Sea Salt Walnut Crumble


Note: This recipe is for a 9-inch deep-dish pie. If using a smaller pie pan, you may have some filling and crumble left over.


For the Pie Dough

– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

– 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

– 4 tablespoons ice cold water


For the Filling

– 4 1/2 cups fresh blackberries (about three 6-oz. containers)

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1/4 cup brown sugar

– 3 tablespoons cornstarch

– 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

– zest of 1 lemon


For the Crumble

– 1 cup old-fashioned oats

– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

– 1/2 cup brown sugar

– 1 cup chopped walnuts

– 1 teaspoon sea salt

– 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes


Pie Dough

Combine flour and butter in a food processor. Pulse 7 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. If dough seems too dry, add additional cold water by the tablespoon. Remove pie dough from food processor and mold into a circular disk. Cover and let refrigerate for at least 25 minutes.



Mix blackberries, sugars, cornstarch, balsamic and lemon zest in a bowl. Turn the mixture with a spoon several times to ensure the blackberries are coated.



Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, walnuts and sea salt in large bowl. Add butter and rub into the mix with your fingertips (just like you would with pie dough!), pressing the mixture together until clumps form.


Assembly & Baking

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out dough on a floured surface and transfer to 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Trim any crust overhang, fold under and crimp the edges. Spoon the blackberry filling into the dough-lined pan. Sprinkle crumble on top, fully covering the blackberries. Bake pie for 45–55 minutes or until filling is bubbling and topping is brown and crisp. Check pie after 25 minutes of baking and cover with foil if the crust or crumble seems to be browning too quickly. Cool one hour before serving.


The Finishing Touches: Pie Crust Wash

The process of making a pie from scratch is certainly a rewarding one. And as with anything you bake, the preparation and process is so important to the outcome. You’ve spent time and effort putting the pastry together, so don’t sell yourself short by skipping the final step — the wash!


Pies with a top crust or lattice top will typically call for an egg or cream wash to be brushed on to the dough just before baking. The type of wash you use is what will give the baked pie a polished finish (it’s also the perfect “glue” for holding sugar that’s sprinkled on the crust).





An egg wash will give your pie crust a glossy finish, while a cream wash will give your pie crust more of a semi-golden, matte-like finish. Skipping a wash altogether can leave your crust looking stark.


The general rule of thumb for egg wash is 1 well-beaten egg plus 1 to 2 tablespoons of water (note: more water will lighten the golden color, or for a shinier pie, you can substitute the water with cream or milk).





For a cream wash, use heavy cream or half-and-half. No matter which you chose, a wash should always be applied just before the pie goes into the oven.




There are a variety of pie wash combinations that will give your crust a different finish. Whatever look you are going for, do yourself a favor and don’t skip this final preparation step.


From left: egg wash, no wash, and cream wash after baking.


This article was first published on the Network on May 14, 2014.


The Easiest Pie Dough You’ll Ever Make

Looking for a quick and easy pie dough recipe? We’ve got you covered. This is our tried-and-true recipe for perfect pie dough. It’s not the fanciest, but it’s flaky, buttery and works every time. We even captured Adrienne making it on video to prove it!



–  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

–  4 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

–  1/8 teaspoon salt

–  1/4 cups ice cold water



Combine flour, butter and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. Slowly add the cold water in thirds, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition. Continue stirring until a soft dough has formed. If dough seems too dry, add additional cold water by the tablespoon. If dough seems to wet, add a bit more flour. Once the dough has formed, gather with your hands and mold into a circular disk. Cover and refrigerate for at least 25 min or overnight.


Remove dough from refrigerator and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll out on a floured surface and transfer to pie pan. Trim any crust overhang, then flute the edges.


Need more dough? This recipe can be doubled, to accommodate a large deep dish pan, double crust or lattice top!

How to make pie dough from PieBox on Vimeo.

How to Make Herb-Infused Whipped Cream

Herb Infusded Whipped Cream


Fresh berries topped with whipped cream is one of our favorite summertime treats. It’s a quick and easy dessert that’s relatively healthy and always a crowd pleaser. And while whipped cream with just a touch of vanilla and sugar never disappoints, it’s remarkably easy to turn this everyday delight into a special treat.


Infusing whipped cream with herbs like basil or mint is wonderful year-round, but especially in warm weather months when herbs are plentiful and picked fresh from the garden. And not only will herb-infused whipped cream smell amazing, it adds a subtle complexity to whatever it’s served with, from a simple bowl of berries to a dollop atop pound cake or, obviously, pie.



Herb Infusded Whipped Cream


How to make whipped cream with herbs


Adding a fresh herb or dried flower to whipped cream requires a simple infusion, which may sound complicated, but it’s just like making tea.

For large, leafy herbs like basil, chop or tear leaves into small pieces. The amount you use will determine the intensity of flavor.


To one cup of cream we recommend add the following:

–   1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender buds

–   About 1/3 cup fresh herbs (basil, mint)


Herb Infusded Whipped Cream


1. Place heavy cream in a small saucepan and heat until it just starts to simmer.

2. Remove cream from heat and add herbs.

3. Cover and let steep for about 25 to 30 minutes.



Herb Infusded Whipped Cream


Pour the infused cream through a mesh strainer to remove botanicals. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Whip the cream just before serving!


Berry + herb whipped cream pairings we love (mix and match!)


–   Lavender whipped cream + blueberries

–   Basil whipped cream + strawberries

–   Mint whipped cream + blackberries

This article was first published on the Network on June, 25 2014.

How to Make Rhubarb Candy Garnish

Rhubarb season is in full swing, and the deliciously bitter stalk is a must-have in many of my baked goods. But with its bold colors and slender structure, it’s also a great contender for a garnish. Save a stalk the next time you make rhubarb pie, and you can easily turn it into an unexpected and beautiful tuile-like garnish. One stalk of rhubarb can easily make eight to ten garnishes. First, trim and wash your rhubarb, then use a vegetable peeler to create long and thin strips.





Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Soak the rhubarb strips in simple syrup for about five minutes. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure the rhubarb strips aren’t overlapping each other. Bake until almost all the liquid is evaporated and the rhubarb starts to look crisp, about one hour.

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Remove from oven, then carefully shape into spirals, circles, or whatever you fancy. For thin spirals, try wrapping the rhubarb around the handle of a wooden spoon. Or for thicker spirals, I used the tapered end of a rolling pin. The rhubarb will harden and maintain the shape as it cools. It should only take about 10 minutes for it to harden.


If your rhubarb doesn’t seem to keep its shape (you will know, it will flop right over), it simply means it’s not dehydrated enough! Just return to the oven for a few minutes longer or until it’s ready.


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The finished rhubarb spirals can be used as garnish on many baked goods.




This article was first published on the Network on June, 11 2015.

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer

Does My Pie Plate Fit?

At PieBox, we want to help you transport your pie or cake to your event in one beautiful piece. Our handcrafted wooden pastry carriers are the answer to this predicament. Regardless of how you plan to get to your gathering – bike, train, bus, car, or simply by walking – PieBox has you covered.


Before you buy, you may be worried about whether your favorite pie plate will fit in our carriers. The PieBox Team understands your concerns. We want you to know we designed PieBox with your plate in mind. In this article, we’ll explain the types of plates that work best with PieBox and how you can ensure that yours will fit perfectly.


Pie plates in PieBox

Standard Pie Plates

A standard pie plate is 9 inches in diameter, though there are larger options available. When you’re shopping for a new plate, you may be unsure of whether to pick ceramic, glass, or heavy aluminum. Not sure which to choose? Check out The Dish Debate.

How Big Is a PieBox?

PieBox is wide enough to snugly and securely fit a variety of different pie plates. You can even switch between your many plates – a ceramic dish will fit just as well as a glass or even a heavy aluminum plate. Any plate, up to 10.75 inches in diameter, will fit beautifully.


Pile on the toppings and curl your meringue as high! PieBox’s dimensions allow for pies up to 3.5 inches.


Not sure how to determine the size of your plate? Grab a tape measure or ruler and measure the diameter – the distance from one side to the direct opposite – of your plate.



PieBox Is the Perfect Fit for Your Plate

With so many choices of pie plates available, you might wonder whether or not your dish will fit. You may have just one pie plate, or a favorite among several. The beauty of PieBox is that it’s more than adequate for the “average” pie plate, but it can also accommodate a wider plate, too. No matter what size you prefer, PieBox was created to fit your needs.


PieBox wants to be there for your next event. Whether you’re gathering with family, attending a party in a friend’s home, or submitting your pastry to a local contest, we want to help transport your work. As a baker, you mix more than ingredients into your creations – your kitchen produces your passion.


Let PieBox protect your passion. It’s the perfect fit. Click here to get yours!


5 Ways to Make Your Cupcakes Stand Out



Cupcakes are fairly straightforward to make, taking a full size cake and making it easy to eat in individual portions. Because of this ease of preparation and ease of eating, they are often a staple of picnics, parties, and more. All of those cupcakes can run together in people’s memories, so you want to make sure that yours stand out and people can remember how epic they were. Here are some ideas to help you do that.

1.Use Fun Parchment Cups

Cupcake parchment cups serve the purpose of keeping your cupcakes from sticking to the pan and making them easy to eat, but they can serve another purpose. They can give your cupcakes a little bit of pizzazz. Rainbows, tiger stripes, polka dots, and more can take an ordinary cupcake and make immediately it more attractive.



2. Color Your Frosting

Why make plain white vanilla frosting for your cupcakes when you can make that same frosting green, blue, or pink with a few drops of food coloring? Color is very appealing and fun, so why not? Consider also coloring your cake batter as well, and think about contrasting colors or working the cupcake, cupcake liner, and frosting into a certain scheme?


Also maybe make your cupcakes into turtles, chicks, watermelons, or anything else. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. Making your cupcakes into something will really make people sit up and notice.




3. Pipe Frosting

This doesn’t need to be hard or complicated. Using a simple star tip to add your frosting can make your cupcakes look like the work of a professional and can add a bit of fanciness when needed.



4. Add Sprinkles

Think about adding sprinkles to the top of your frosted cupcakes to add a touch of whimsy and flair that makes them really stand out. But also consider adding sprinkles to your unbaked batter. Depending on the type of sprinkles you add, you will end up with a spotted cupcake masterpiece. Adding that touch of unexpectedness can help your cupcakes raise the bar that much more.



5. Add An Unexpected Garnishment

Putting fresh or candied fruit on the top of your cupcakes adds fun and a punch of flavor. Strawberries, blueberries, and more can help with the experience of eating your cupcakes. Additions like lime, orange, or lemon zest can add a punch of flavor and color. If you are feeling especially adventurous, add flowers—fresh or gum paste—to make fancy cupcakes.  The bottom line is that anything beyond the expected will make your cupcakes really stand out.





After all of your hard work in creating your masterpiece, don’t forget to preserve your awesome cupcake decoration with a CakeBox. When you use our CakeBox, your cupcakes are kept safe and sound when you transport them to an event.  It has sliding cupcake inserts that keep your cupcakes snug and secure when you take them to go in your car, on your bike, on a bus, or walking. When you arrive, they will be as epic as they were before your started your journey.

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer


5 Accessories That Make PieBox Even Better

If you’ve already purchased your PieBox, you may wonder what else you need to show off your rockstar baking skills to your friends and family. We’ve thought about that question too and have come up with a few items that will help you use your new PieBox to show off your pies in the best light.



1.Leather Strap

Made out of leather and designed to be super tough, this leather strap makes any transport of your delicious baking and PieBox that much easier. Having a leather strap for your box allows you to carry the box with one hand. With one hand free, you can use the other one to carry anything else you need to make your event better.


2. Tea Towel

Tea towels are not just for hand drying your dishes. They can be used in a lot of other ways too. We are excited to collaborate with Studiopatro to offer their “easy as pie tea towel.” We have this product available in special gift sets, packaged with our own PieBox. These towels are designed to cushion your pies and keep them safe and secure in transit. Don’t worry if cake is your fancy, we’re also offering CakeBox with a “piece of cake tea towel.”

Once you get to your final location, you can also use the tea towel to present your creation with flair. By folding the towel up and setting it underneath your pie, you can keep any crumbs contained.

3. Pie Plate

You definitely need something to make that delicious pie in, don’t you? With a pie plate, you can whip up grandma’s apple pie, a custard pie, a rhubarb pie, or whatever strikes your fancy. PieBox was designed to fit many standard-sized and fluted pie plates.  In our experience, you can never have too many. Hooray for more kitchen shopping!

Along with the utility of a pie plate is the style. Whether you use a metal plate or a ceramic one, your pie plate helps you set the look of your dessert.  You can add a touch of whimsy or make a classic look with just the choice of your pie plate.

4. Pie Server

You will need to serve your pie. You need a tool to bring forth the pieces in their naturally triangular form, so don’t use a fork or something that wasn’t meant to do that. Pie servers are designed to keep your creation intact and allow those who will partake of your dessert to enjoy it as nature, and you, intended.

These, too, come in various styles. You can choose a metal one or plastic, fancy or plain, big or little. Choosing one that matches your dessert, style, or event can help with the presentation.

5. Dessert Plates

Whether you prefer floral patterned china or paper plates to serve your creation on, each option can be festive and help you show off and set the mood for your dessert. People are going to need something to eat off of, so you might as well have something fun.

With these suggestions and your awesome new PieBox, you can be sure that you can transport and then present your tasty creations with confidence and style. We want you to be successful at both.


Star-Spangled Strawberry Cake

Nothing says summer like a patriotic cake adorned with delicious fruits of the season. Here is an easy way to make any cake festive this summer! Prepare your favorite layer cake and frost it with buttercream. To decorate, you will need a small star-shaped cookie cutter, strawberries, blueberries, extra frosting and a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size star tip. To make the firework pom-pom cake topper, you will need aluminum foil, floral wire, and a toothpick or wooden skewer.


Use the largest strawberries you can find! Large strawberries will produce the best results. At least make sure they are slightly bigger than your cookie cutter. Cut off stems, then slice each strawberry in half. Press a small 1- to 2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter through each of the strawberry halves. Be sure to save five strawberries to use on the top of the cake.





Pipe a decorative border around the cake, then evenly affix strawberry stars to the bottom border. Pipe a second border on top of the cake. Affix blueberries in a decorative pattern. If the blueberries seem like they are going to fall, transfer the cake to the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes. The frosting will firm as it chills.





Cut three of the whole strawberries in half, then arrange in a star shape on top of the cake. Quarter the reaming two strawberries then transfer to the center of the star.





Create a firework pom-pom cake topper with aluminum foil. Stack two 12-inch-by-6-inch pieces of aluminum foil. Make 1-inch-wide accordion folds, creasing with each fold. Cut folded foil in thin strips lengthwise on each end, leaving 1/2 inch of space uncut in the center. Wrap a piece of floral wire  (or you can use a twist tie) in the center and fold the foil in half over the wire. Using a toothpick or skewer, carefully separate each of the layers. Pull and curl as necessary to reach desired shape. Using the wire, affix the finished firework pom-pom to a toothpick or wooden skewer.





Place the firework topper on the cake. Cake can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.





This article was first published on the Network on April 30, 2015.


By: Adrienne Blumthal

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer


12 Tools for Every Baker’s Kitchen

With so many gadgets and tools available to help you with your baking needs, you may be overwhelmed or confused by which are most important. While everyone is  different and your task is different, there are a few basics that will not only make baking easier but make it more fun too.

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1. Rolling Pin

Rolling pins are awesome. No matter what features or style yours has, you will find it to be one of the most useful items in your kitchen.  It helps keep anything you roll out—pie crusts, biscuits—a uniform thickness.

Some people find rolling pin covers to be helpful. These will keep your rolling pin cleaner so it doesn’t need washed as often.

An additional tip is to store your rolling pin and rolling cloth in the refrigerator together. There is something about having these cold that helps the dough to roll better and not stick as much. You will still need flour but not as much.

2. Pastry Brush

You will find this to be a very versatile tool. You can use it to spread butter on the top of your freshly baked rolls, bread, or the like.  Its uses go beyond that though, as a spreader of glaze or egg wash.

3. Whisk

Whisks are fantastic. Use them to whip eggs as well as to mix any sort of liquid ingredients together before adding them to dry ingredients.

4. Rimmed Baking Sheets

While sometimes called jelly roll sheets, these are so helpful for many projects besides jelly rolls. The edges allow you to bake cinnamon rolls, bar cookies, and other spreading baking projects, as well as regular cookies and other regular cookie-sheet type projects.

5. Parchment Paper

We love parchment paper as a baking hack. With it, you can line baking sheets, cake pans, and more. It helps to keep your baking from sticking to the surface of your pan and helps you to remove cookies and cakes easier. Plus,  it makes your cleanup that much quicker as the parchment paper is the only thing that touches your baked goods.

6. Microplane

This tool helps you to quickly add deliciousness to your baking. It is excellent for grating lemon rind, chocolate, and coconut. Adding these yummy and decorative touches is easy with this in your drawer.

7. Flexible Measuring Tape

For cake decorating, this will be your best friend. It lets you place your decorations in precise mathematical locations and keep everything aesthetically pleasing.

8. Rubber Spatula

This is most helpful for getting all of your cake batter, brownie batter, frosting, or anything out of your bowl. Using your trusty rubber spatula, you can get each and every bit into the pan or wherever.

9. Offset Spatula

Perfect for smoothing batter into corners or icing a cake, you will find this tool to be one of the best for cake baking and decorating.

10. Bench Scraper

The bench scraper is great for cleaning your surfaces as well as dividing your dough into sections to be worked with. Some bakers find it to be helpful to smooth the sides of a frosted cake as well.

11. Serrated Knife

Great for slicing cakes or breads, as well as cutting dough and crust into sections, this is a versatile tool that is handy in so many situations.

12. Pastry Bag With A few Different Tips

For cake decorating, you must have this tool. Depending on the tip you use, you can pipe frosting to outline, write, and decorate your cakes with exact precision.

With these tools at the ready, you will be able to take on any baking task. Don’t feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what you need. The most important part is that you enjoy yourself and the tasty results of your work.

Photos: Steven Karl Metzer