Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Homemade Blueberry Pie




Given the unending heat and humidity, it may not feel like it in San Diego, but the end of summer is closing in on us. There's always one day around this time that--for me, at least--marks the end as the quality of the light changes. I think of it as "football season sunlight." It's the hazy light I associate with going with my family to my dad's favorite outing: USC football games. The day I experienced that light for the first time this year was last Wednesday and I mentioned it to my mom, who was over cooking with me in anticipation of a story I'm writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune's food section on Rosh Hashanah dishes. Outside my kitchen window, looking out on my patio, it seemed there was a filter over the sun instead of harsh glare. I always miss the idea of summer--it's supposedly lazy days and the vacations I never take--but, to be honest, I love autumn. What I do miss--really miss, in fact--is summer produce. The watermelon and peaches and big juicy tomatoes, and berries.

This evening I'm going to a potluck dinner party and was asked to bring dessert. I decided to bake a pie and thought, well, if summer is coming to an end, how about a blueberry pie as a send off? Fresh blueberries are still in abundance and I bought several pints. This, too, ties back to my dad. He adored blueberries. I think he would have loved this pie--even if he probably would set aside the crust, something he never much liked and that totally mystified me. I love a great pie crust.

Anyone who reads San Diego Foodstuff or who knows me knows how much I love baking pies--and, unlike my dad, how curious I am about different kinds of crusts. So I thought I'd change up my usual crust just a little. I scouted around online and recalled that vodka can make a crust flakier. I had some vodka in the freezer so I added that to the crust, along with a little sugar, salt, and fresh lemon juice, as well, of course, ice water.


For the filling, I combined the fresh blueberries with the usual: lemon zest and lemon juice, along with cornstarch to thicken it. But instead of granulated sugar I opted for brown sugar to lend a deeper flavor. And instead of cinnamon, I added a wonderful pie standby of mine: Divine Desserts fennel pollen blend.

The rest went along the usual way. I made the top and bottom doughs, formed them into discs, wrapped them in plastic and refrigerated them for a couple of hours. When you make the dough be sure you don't overwork it. You want striations of butter throughout to help make a flakier crust.


Before you start rolling the dough for the pie plate (and try to use a deep dish pie plate), make the filling. Just combine all those filling ingredients. The mixture can sit a bit and macerate while you roll out the dough.


Roll out one at a time, leaving the other to continue to chill in the fridge. Make a circle larger than the pie plate, then using your rolling pin, lift and set it into the pie plate. You'll want to trim the overhang to about 3/4 inch over. Save the excess dough and set it aside. Fill the pie with the blueberry mixture, then roll out the other dough disc, place it over the filling, and trim that overhang. Then you'll pinch and crimp the edges.


Brush the top crust with the egg wash, then cut slits into the crust to let steam out while the pie bakes.

That's it! Now it goes into the oven to bake. You'll start out at high heat for about 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature while it bakes another half an hour or so. Check at the 30-minute mark to make sure the pie isn't burning. If it's getting a little too brown but not ready to remove, cover it with a piece of foil.

Once you remove it from the oven, place it on a rack to cool before serving.

Oh, and that leftover dough? Form it into a small disc and wrap it up for the freezer. You can use it to make a small tart later just for yourself--perhaps with apples for fall.



Blueberry Pie
1 deep dish pie
(printable recipe)

Ingredients

Dough
4 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 sticks (1 ½ cups) cold European-style butter cut into 1-inch chunky pieces
¼ cup chilled vodka
¼ cup ice water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Filling
6 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed with stems removed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon Divine Desserts fennel pollen blend

Egg Wash
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Directions

1. In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Toss in butter and using your fingertips, lightly coat with the flour mixture. Then quickly rub butter into flour mixture to get pea-size pieces.
2. Mix together in a small bowl the vodka, ice water, and lemon juice. Then drizzle over flour and butter mixture and mix together with a fork until it starts to get a little shaggy looking. Then use your hands and knead briefs just until the dough comes together. If it’s still dry, add a little more ice water.
3. Gently form the dough into two ¾-inch discs and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least two hours or preferably overnight. You can also put them in the freezer.
4. When you’re ready to make the pie, preheat the oven to 425°. Make the filling by combining the blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch, brown sugar, and fennel pollen blend in a large bowl. Stir gently but thoroughly to make sure all the blueberries are coated. Set aside.
5. Pull one of the dough discs from the refrigerator. Flour your surface and roll out the disc into a circle large enough to drape over your pie plate. Place the dough into the pie plate and trim the edges to 3/4-inch over the pan. Refrigerate while you roll out the second dough disc.
6. Pull the pie plate out of the refrigerator and fill with the blueberry mixture. Place the second crust over the blueberry filling and trim.
7. Gently press the crust edges together and tuck the dough under the edge of the bottom dough. Crimp the edges by gently pushing the index finger of one hand into the edge of the dough and your thumb and index finger of your other hand, going around the edge of the pie.
8. Quickly make the egg wash by whisking the egg and milk together. Brush the top crust with the wash. Then score the top crust several times to let steam release.
9. Place the pie on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350˚ and bake another 30 to 40 minutes until the crust is a golden brown and the juices are bubbling.
10. Remove to a wire rack and let cool before serving.


Print Page