I recently went on a walk to visit an 800-year old Western red cedar tree at the Blind Channel Resort. I took photos and nibbled on thimbleberries, blackberries, and red huckleberries along the cool forest trail. When I returned to the David B I was met by Jim and Gary, a couple of our guests, who grinned with delight as they presented me with their treasure: about a quart of small huckleberries, the color of fresh sockeye salmon. As I inspected the berries they talked excitedly about the prospect of huckleberry pie.
I was a bit apprehensive, however, about a pie dough failure. It was a hot day and the boat’s wood-fired cook stove was making the galley even hotter. Every time the galley temperature gets above seventy-eight, my pie dough recipe fails because the stainless steel counter gets too warm. The dough sticks to both the countertop and rolling pin. I fingered though the berries, not wanting to disappoint my berry pickers. I needed time to think, and I needed my dough to work.
While I pondered huckleberries and pie, Jeffrey started the David B‘s engine. It was time to get underway. We needed to make our way up Johnstone Strait to Port Neville for our night’s anchorage. It was going to be a long afternoon underway and we would probably set the hook in time for a late dinner. That was good because it gave me time to decide if I should attempt to make a pie.
About an hour later, I decided that I’d go ahead and try. With confidence, I made my usual dough with two-and-a-quarter cups of flour, a pinch of salt, and two sticks of butter. I mixed the ingredients together in the food processor, and then placed the dough in the fridge to cool while I cooked the huckleberries.
Somewhere around Current Pass it was time to roll out the pie dough. Our guests Jim, Gary, and Carol all had their eyes on me. I knew failure was likely, but I took the first ball and pressed it down with my hands. It felt good, stiff and cool. Maybe, I thought as I applied pressure with the rolling pin, it will work. I rolled the dough in a couple of directions. The edges of it curled around the pin. It’s not going to work, I breathed in my frustration as I dusted the dough with a little more flour and tried again. The rolling pin picked up more bits of dough.
I started to think about my options as a great many suggestions were offered by the crowd around me. Through the buzz of ideas, I realized that the best thing I could do was to “give in” to the dough itself. It was refusing to be pie. I stood back from the counter and asked for the suggestions to stop. I had the answer: Tart.
You can fake a tart by using the same dough as a pie, and it’s pressed into the pan instead of rolled with a rolling pin. I knew it would work even though it’s really not the same. I took out a small tart pan, and then gathered the pieces of torn up pie dough. Carefully, I pressed the dough around the pan so that it would be an even thickness and then brushed it with a mix of egg and cream. About a half hour in the oven and it was ready for filling. I poured the cooked, strained berries into the shell. It was beautiful and simple. I placed it in the warmer above the stovetop.
Later that evening, after dinner, I served my huckleberry tart. It got rave reviews and was delicious with vanilla ice cream.
To read more from Christine Smith and the David B, click here.