My grandma’s garden is dear to my heart and is filled with lovely memories of summer days laced with fragrant jasmine, sudsy yellow backyard water slides and Mandy, the cranky old Corgy that hated all of us grandkids.
Down the back, past the lemon trees, sloping green lawn and Mandy’s final resting place is my own secret garden. The magnificent lady who lives here is comfortably nestled among a few other trees and is over half a century old. Her arms stretch regally across the width of the lower backyard and for just a brief time in the early summer, she presents us with little violet parcels of sweet, juicy goodness.
I was recently reminded of this long-forgotten lady and Grandma’s legendary mulberry pie while attending a children’s birthday party. The kids had gathered around a small mulberry tree in the backyard and were having a great deal of fun in shaking the fruit off it. Feeling nostalgic, I began to wonder if there would be any left on Grandma’s tree during my next visit the following weekend.
Come summer —well into my university years— I couldn’t wait to climb the tree and pick mulberries for Grandma that would eventually turn into a delicious pie for our dessert. The mosquitoes were always voracious and they too looked forward to their annual summer feast on my arms and legs as I picked the mulberries.
When I returned from my mission, my fingers were always stained in a deep purple hue. Grandma would then rub half a lemon over my fingers and they would be lovely and clean in no time – my clothes, not so much.
Later that afternoon, Grandma would make the pastry, stew the mulberries until they were sweet and jammy, finish with some sugar on top, then bake in the oven.
Dessert always seemed a very long way off when there was mulberry pie in the oven. Grandad was an even greater fan than I and would also wait eagerly for a slice of pie. He had a well-documented sweet tooth that Grandma lovingly indulged.
Sadly, Grandad passed away in 2004 and only one month short of their 60thwedding anniversary. As he was no longer around to enjoy it and I was away on extended overseas adventures, Grandad’s mulberry pie disappeared off the table for a number of years until brought back by popular demand this past summer.
As soon as I got to Grandma’s, I headed straight for the mulberry tree and as luck would have it, there were still just enough to make a small pie with. I was an excited child again!
Later in the afternoon, we raided the last of the berries and brought back the bounty to the kitchen. Grandma worried she wouldn’t be able to remember the recipe but butter and flour gently yielded to the rhymic kneading of knowing hands to form the shortcrust pastry, just like it had for many years before. Next, deep violet berries tumbled into a small pot, spitting as they hit the heat – subdued by a generous measure of sugar and the smallest dash of water. Soon after, the sweet, viscous filling was poured into the pastry case and topped with a sprinkle of sugar with a quick flick of the wrist.
Another few minutes longer, that familiar aroma of roasted berries and freshly baked pie came wafting out of the oven entwining with childhood memories. With homemade custard ready to be poured, a freshly brewed pot of tea for two on the table and a slice of long -awaited mulberry pie with my lovely Grandma, it was absolute heaven. Yes, the old cliché is so true, Grandma’s cooking always tastes the best and that’s because my grandma always makes it with love. Obviously, Grandad clearly knew he was onto a good thing!
Did you enjoy the story?
Now watch this beautiful homemade movie that one of my lovely readers made about my grandma’s mulberry pie. If you are in Australia, the talented videographer Josh Goss is available for hire and specialises in weddings.
For your own slice of mulberry heaven, I hope you enjoy Grandma’s recipe below;
Grandma’s Mulberry Pie
- 500g of fresh mulberries
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 100g of butter
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
- 1 ¾ cup of self raising flour
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- Dash vanilla essence
- Separate the mulberries into two dishes. Put ½ the mulberries in a saucepan. Add a ¼ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of water to the berries, simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and berries are soft and jammy.
- Add 2 tablespoons of cornflour to the mulberry stew to thicken. Set aside.
- To make the pastry sift 1 ¾ cup of self raising four and mix with 100g chopped butter (room temperature) and 2 Tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until ready.
- Roll two lots of pastry – one for the base and another for the lid of the pie to fit 20 x 30cm rectangular cake tin.
- Place pastry in the bottom of the tin to make a case, add the fresh mulberries then fill it will the mulberry mixture.
- Cover the mixture with the pastry lid and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes 200C until pastry is golden.
- Serve with custard, icecream or cream.
- To make custard, over a low heat place milk, sugar and egg yolks in a saucepan a gently whisk until it thickens – about 10 minutes. Serve hot or cold.