Cape May & Mini Berry Crumble Pies

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I stopped for coffee on my way to work this morning and was saddened to see an urn of Pumpkin Spice coffee next to my 100% Columbian brew. I’m not ready to let go of summer and weekly trips to the shore. On one recent trip, I visited a shore town that also clings to the past, Cape May. Located at the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May is the nation’s oldest seaside resort.

In the early to mid- 18th century, Philadelphians began vacationing in Cape May, some staying at Congress Hall, first constructed as a boarding house in 1816. Reconstructed in 1879, four U.S. Presidents vacationed at Congress Hall, with Benjamin Harrison even making it his official Summer White House.

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Still an operating hotel, Congress Hall mixes old with new

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and offers a fantastic lunch at the Blue Pig Tavern! It’s the perfect place to take a break from exploring the nearby shops.

Though there’s now a promenade that runs along the beach

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and a 157-foot lighthouse to climb,

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Cape May retains its historic charm.

With a storied history dating back as far as the early 1600s, the entire city is considered a National Historic Landmark, largely due to the prevalence of Victorian architecture — nearly 600 preserved buildings. In fact, Cape May has the second largest collection of Victorian houses in the United States after San Francisco.

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Many of the homes have been converted into Bed & Breakfasts, and one great example of the architecture has been converted into a museum.  The Emlen Physick Estate, a Stick Style 18-room mansion, was designed by Frank Furness.

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Photography isn’t allowed on the museum’s guided tours, but I managed to sneak a couple of photos of my favorite rooms in any home:the dining room

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and kitchen.

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The photo above is the baking area of the 1880-era kitchen, which got my wheels turning, thinking of desserts fit for a proper Victorian summertime picnic. (Incidentally, I learned on the tour that such outings would traditionally be held in cemeteries!) I settled on Mini Berry Crumble Pies. Baked from scratch in a cupcake tin, these pies are surprisingly easy to make and a perfect way to use the last berries of the season.

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Click Here to Print This Recipe.

Ingredients:

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pound strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 6 ounces blackberries

For the Topping

  • 1/2 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

For the Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and then frozen
  • 6 tablespoons shortening, chilled
  • 8-10 tablespoons ice water

Instructions:

For the Filling

  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients; set aside.

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For the Topping

  • In a medium bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  • With your hands, work in butter until small clumps form. Mixture will feel like wet sand.

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For the Crust

  • Place flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine.
  • Add frozen butter cubes and pulse 5 times until butter looks like corn meal with pea size pieces of butter.
  • Add shortening and pulse 4 times.
  • Place flour mixture in a large bowl; pour half the ice water on top. Mix together until medium-size clumps form. Add the rest of the water and mix until just combined. Use palm to fold and press dough until dough forms one large mass and just comes together. Do not overwork dough.
  • Split dough in two equal portion discs, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes to one day. (One disc will be left over.)

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Putting It Together

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly flour pastry mat and roll out dough. Cut small circles and line muffin tin with dough.

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  • Fill each cup with berry mixture.
  • Top with crumb topping.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes.
  • Remove to wire rack to cool before serving.

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DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO CAPE MAY: 93 miles

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6 responses

  1. Cape May is always a great excursion, whether a day trip or a long weekend. Their lighthouse doesn’t compare to Old Barney; however, the berry crumble itself would bring people coming back!

  2. I haven’t been to Cape May in several years, but after viewing your beautiful photos, I’m ready for a return visit very soon. I like the combination of berries in your mini berry crumble pies and what’s not to like with a crumb topping!

  3. Great narrative and pictures of Cape May! You certainly did it justice and made it very appealing, which it is. Wish I had gotten to sample the mini berry crumble pies; they look reallly appealing, too. Yum!

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