Why this pie:

Truth be told, I wanted to make a black raspberry pie, but in my part of Ohio, black raspberries are not handily available in our local markets (at least the ones I’ve checked.) I do have a few jars of black raspberry jam, purchased in southeastern Ohio, in my cabinet. But I’m saving the jam for biscuits or scones!

Black raspberries are their very own berry—not to be confused with blackberries (bigger, shinier, more tart) or with what we commonly think of, when we think of raspberries (the fruit, not the sound!), which are red raspberries (red—well, dark pink, really, softer, less tart.) Here are a few links to more information about black raspberries, in case you are berry curious:

So, I decided to experiment with a pie that mixes black raspberries’ cousins—their kin, so to speak—using half blackberries and half raspberries. I know, I know—that’s not the same as actual black raspberries.

But it’s my homage to black raspberries, which play a supporting role in THE WIDOWS, and to kin and kinship, concepts which play a thematic role in the novel. Not to give too much away, but if you read THE WIDOWS, you’ll spot several references to black raspberries—harvesting, sharing, picking them are all tiny symbols of the changing relationships in the novel, from beginning to end.

What I will give in full is the pie recipe I concocted for dessert for a dinner with another couple. We’re friends with them through various connections, one of which is through the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, a prize and initiative with which I’m pleased to be associated as a first reader.

The recipe:


  • 12 ounces blackberries (about two cups)
  • 12 ounces raspberries (about two cups)
  • ¼ cup minute or quick-cooking tapioca
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • Dash of lemon zest
  • Two 9-inch pie crusts
  • Dash sugar
  • Dash flour
  • Two tablespoons butter, cut into tiny squares
  • About two tablespoons milk
  • Coarse (turbinado) sugar


  1. Toss berries together in bowl. Sprinkle on sugar, quick-cooking tapioca, dash of lemon zest. (You may want to add more sugar to taste if berries are tart, or based on how tart you like your berry pies. I like a tart pie!) Gently stir together. Let rest on counter (cover bowl with tea towel or plate if you wish) for a half hour or so.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees F.
  3. Place one crust in bottom of pie plate. Sprinkle on dash of flour and sugar, just enough to dust bottom of crust. (This will help your bottom crust to not be soggy from berries. No one likes a soggy bottom!)
  4. Fill with berry mixture, spreading out evenly. (Raspberries will now be soft, so be tender with them so as not to smoosh.)
  5. Dot butter bits on top of berries.
  6. Cut vents in top crust (or you can do a lattice top), and place on pie. Crimp edges.
  7. Brush top crust with milk; sprinkle with coarse sugar. The milk will help crust turn a nice golden brown and the sugar adds a sweet crunch as well as eye appeal.
  8. Place in oven on bottom rack. (Again, this helps set bottom crust.)
  9. Immediately turn heat down to 375-degrees F.
  10. Bake about 40 minutes (check after 30) until golden brown.

Serve plain or, for added sweetness, with whipped cream. Enjoy!