Praise be to Pie

By on July 11, 2018

Tis the season for flakey, buttery, fruity indulgence

Southern darlings be warned, this Western pie from Roots Kitchen and Cannery is perfection. (PHOTO: roots kitchen and cannery)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Fourth of July has come and gone and that means summer in Jackson Hole has officially arrived. The long days of the season are perfect for spending time with friends and family, hiking, biking, barbecuing, and, making pie. Everyone has a favorite pie. Regardless of the time of year, there are those who prefer the fall-inspired cinnamony apple, pecan or pumpkin pies. Then there are the berry lovers, the strawberry-rhubarb fanatics, the key-lime die-hards, the chocolate pudding sweethearts. And I’m just talking fillings here.  

True pie lovers know that the basis of any good pie is the crust. That debate really boils down to preference, which often begins with one’s very first pie memory. The No. 1 criteria is flake. There’s really no point in eating a pie if the crust isn’t deliciously flakey. A dense, hard layer of dough is a no-no.  To achieve flake, you must have copious amounts of fat in your crust as it melts while baking, creating layers of air pockets within the dough. To get it extra flakey, however, the “secret” ingredient bakers have been using for years is vodka or distilled white vinegar. Due to the lower evaporation temperature, a tablespoon of either into your dough will help create an even, nicer flake.  

There are two schools of thought here: butter or shortening? The result of both, when done properly, should be similar in consistency, but the final flavor is different. While using shortening often results in a “lighter” flavor and crust, a butter-based dough lends a deliciously nutty, buttery taste that is the perfect accompaniment to jammy summer fillings.  

Local pie-makers Orion Bellorado and Willi Brooks, owners and bakers of Roots Kitchen and Cannery, agreed. At 5 a.m. on Saturday mornings, Brooks rises with the birds to get his pies in order for the Farmers’ Market on Jackson’s Town Square. Bellorado, a math teacher at Jackson Hole High School, launched Roots Kitchen and Cannery in 2004 with Ian McGregor, now the president of Teton Slow Foods. Brooks, who was born and raised in Jackson, joined the team in 2013 to bake pies, a practice that is cooked into his childhood.

“My mom baked a lot when I was growing up,” Brooks said. “Her strawberry rhubarb pie will forever be my favorite.”

While their berries are sourced from Strums, an Oregon-based farm, they try to stay regional with their other ingredients.  

Their flour, peaches, plums and cherries come from Bozeman and Paradise Valley, Montana.

The company spans beyond pies, too. They churn out delicious jams, BBQ sauces and pickles in their Bozeman-based cannery. Pick up their goods 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the Farmers’ Market or 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays at the People’s Market.   

To be sure, preparing pie can be daunting. What if the crust is soggy? What if it burns? Not to mention the hours required to make the perfect pie. Never fear—adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Butter Dough recipe, here is my take on the perfect pie. It’s an easy one.

Helen’s Triple Berry Post-Fourth of July Pie

Helen’s Triple Berry Post-Fourth of July Pie (Photo: helen goelet)

For the Crust

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon (if desired)

1 C Iced water

1 tsp white wine vinegar or vodka


The trick is to keep the butter as cold as possible. Start by filling a cup with water and ice and put it in the freezer to keep it cold. Next, cut the butter into small cubes, about 1/2 inch in size. Put them into a bowl and place the bowl in the freezer. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon (if using) in a large mixing bowl. Remove butter from the freezer and sprinkle into the flour mixture. Cut with a pie cutter until the butter comes together with the flour into small pea-sized pieces. Add 1/2 cup of ice cold water into the mixture and the vinegar or vodka and stir in with a rubber spatula. Add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until it begins to come together into larger clumps. Begin mixing with your hands and add more water until it comes together enough to hold a shape without being too wet. You’ll be able to see the dough flaking together at this point. The trick here is not to let the dryness of the dough intimidate you. Separate into two portions and press into discs. Wrap and cool in the fridge for at least 5 hours and up to two days.  


For the Filling

2 C raspberries

2 C blueberries

3 C blackberries  

1 C  granulated sugar

1 Tbsp corn starch

1 orange, zest and juice

1 lemon, zest and juice

2 Tbsp Grand Marnier Liquor (optional)


Combine all ingredients except for corn starch and allow to sit for at least 1 hour.  


Set the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie pan, then flour a clean surface and rolling pin. Roll out one disc of dough until it is approximately 12 inches in diameter. Fold the dough in half, then in half again (you should have a quarter of a circle of folded dough at this point). Place the dough in the top corresponding corner of your dish (the bottom of the folded quarter should be in the middle of the pie dish).

Unfold until the dough fills the pie dish. Trim off the remaining dough. Pour the filling into the dish. If you’re going for a fully covered pie, remove the second disc of dough from the fridge and roll it out to 12 inches and drape over your pie, pinching it together with the bottom dough. If you’d rather lattice the dough, cut it into ribbons and weave one over the other, pinching together at both ends. Brush the top dough with 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until the top begins to turn golden, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 25 minutes, until the filling begins to resemble jam. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.  Serve with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

About Helen Goelet

You must be logged in to post a comment Login