Open-Face Fresh Blueberry Pie

September 5, 2008

Today marks the final item (save for the cornbread panzanella, but you’ve already heard about that) on my Summer’s Last Stand BBQ menu that we’ve been highlighting all week. And I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been saving the best for last.

You might have noticed that there are recipes for tarts and cakes and tortes and bars on this site but not even one lone pie recipe. Until now! Because, ladies and gentlemen, I have procured a real, non-disposable pie plate. I’ve been coveting Emile Henry pie plates for months. In fact, my hankering has spanned several seasons worth of pies: pumpkin last fall, pecan around Christmas, strawberry this spring, and, well I’d finally had enough. I couldn’t justify the expense of the Emile Henry beauties (I figured that, realistically, I’ll only make one pie a season, if that) so I settled on a Target cheapy: about $5, kind of cute (though, sadly, it’s not a retro cherry red or lemon yellow, as I’d envisioned) and perfectly fine.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

If any pie would push me to buy a plate, it was blueberry pie. For a long time, it was the only fruit-filled pie I would eat—and even then only if it had been crafted by my grandma and packed with freshly-picked Northern Minnesota berries. (Oh my, that makes me sound like a pint-sized food snob! Not so! My other favorite pies were of the heavily chocolate variety and came from the tins in the display case at Bakers Square.) I’ve since come around to all sorts of fruit-filled pies and even some vegetable-filled ones too: pumpkin, mainly, but I’m also willing to give sweet potato pie another shot this fall.

This pie is a dream to make: the recipe is pretty much fool-proof and, if you’re anxious about pastry dough, the recipe is detailed enough to make your head spin (which is a good thing, because if you have a question, the recipe is almost sure to have the answer). It also lets the blueberries be the star. They are barely sweetened and left unlidded, suspended as if magically in a thick band of sapphire filling. With a scoop of peach ice cream, this pie was a perfect end to our Summer’s-Last-Stand feast.

So, with that dear readers, I wish you a happy weekend! I’ll be back from the Canadian Rockies next week and posting live (and responding more quickly to comments). In the meantime, do tell: what are you planning to cook as a tribute to summer, before it bids us adieu? Or (sob!) have you already moved on to autumn?

Open-Faced Fresh Blueberry Pie
The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Basic Flaky Pie Crush for a 9-inch pie (see below)
1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten
4 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried
1/2 liquid cup and two tablespoons water, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Make the crust:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If neccessary, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes or until it is soft enough to roll.

Using a pastry cloth and sleeve rubbed with flour or two sheetes of plastic wrap lightly sprinkled with flour, roll the dough 1/8 inch thick or less and large enough to cut a 13-inch circle. Use an expandable flan ring or a cardboard template and a sharp knife as a guide to cut out the circle. Transfer the dough to the pie pan, fold under the excess, and crimp the border using a fork or your fingers. Cover it loosely and refrigerate it for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425Ā°F at least 20 minutes before baking.

Line the pastry with parchment, pleating it as necessary so it fits into the pan, and fill it with rice or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully lift out the rice or beans with the parchment. With a fork, prick the bottom and sides, and bake 5-10 minutes, or until the crust is pale golden. Check after 3 minutes and prick any bubbles that may have formed.

Cool the crust on a rack for 3 minutes, so it is no longer piping hot, then brush the bottom and sides with the egg white.

Make the filling:
Measure out 1 cup of the blueberries, choosing he softest ones. Place them in a medium saucepan together with the 1/2 cup water. Cover and bring them to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Set it aside.

When the water and blueberries have come to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes or until the blueberries start to burst and the juices begin to thicken. Stirring constantly, add the cornstarch mixture, the sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Simmer for a minute or until the mixture becomes translucent. Immediately remove it from the heat and quickly fold in the remaining 3 cups of blueberries.

Spoon the mixture into the baked pie shell and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving. When set, the berries will remain very juicy but will not flow out of the crust.

Basic Flaky Pie Crust

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 1/3 cups (dip and sweep method) bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Divide the butter into two parts, about two thirds to one third (5 tablespoons and 3 tablespoons).

Cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes. Wrap each portion of butter with plastic wrap, refrigerate the larger amount and freeze the smaller for at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Food processor method:
Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Set the bag aside.

Add the larger amount of butter cubes to the flour and process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the remaining frozen butter cubes and pulse until all of the frozen butter is the size of peas. (Toss with a fork to see it better.)

Add the lowest amount of the ice water and the vinegar and pulse 6 times. Pinch a small amount of the mixture together between your fingers. If it does not hold together, add half the remaining water and pulse 3 times. Try pinching the mixture again. If necessary, add the remaining water, pulsing 3 times to incorporate it. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together without being pinched.

Spoon the mixture into the plastic bag.

Holding both ends of the bag opening with you fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight.

Hand method:
Place a medium mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.

Place the flour, salt, and optional baking powder in another medium bowl and whisk to combine them. Use a pastry cutter or rub the mixture between your fingers to blend the larger portion of the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal.

Spoon the mixture, together with the cold butter, into a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag. Expel any air from the bag and close it. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter into flakes. Place the bag in the freezer for at least 10 minutes or until the butter is very firm.

Transfer the mixture to the chilled bowl, scraping the sides of the bag. Set the bag aside. Sprinkle the ice water and vinegar onto the mixture, tossing it lightly with a rubber spatula. Spoon the loose mixture back into the plastic bag.

Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight.

Refrigerated, up to 2 days; frozen, up to 3 months.

14 Responses to “Open-Face Fresh Blueberry Pie”

  1. Ali Says:

    Kris!!! It’s beautiful! Well done… It may even sneak a spot on to my plate instead of French Silk… Wait, let’s not get too crazy.

  2. Mia Says:

    What a beautiful pie! I’ve never been much of a pie baker myself, but now I’m thinking I should give it a shot!

  3. Christie I. Says:

    Your pie looks absolutely divine!

  4. Polly Says:

    I HAD noticed that you did not have any pie recipes on here…glad to see the debut. I bid farewell to summer (hardly, I live in SoCal) with a scrumptious peach pie last week, which briefly kept company with your Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake until both disappeared!

  5. Dawn Says:

    We are having a fairly loooong summer up here in NoCal…but I still pretend it’s “fall” because, after all, we’re in September now.

    My tribute to summer involves grilling as many foods as possible, as often as possible, eating outside at least three times a week, and savoring the last of our heirloom tomatoes. One of these days I’ll get around to starting a blog, and I’ll post a pic of these absolutely gorgeous beauties. I am still marvelling that they actually came from my own back yard!

  6. Dawn Says:

    p.s. – those blueberries looks so happy and adorable. šŸ™‚

  7. eggsonsunday Says:

    So beautiful!! We’ve been swamped in tomatoes here (still), so I don’t quite feel like summer’s over yet…even though fall’s my favorite season, I think I have a few more tomato/pepper/peach/blueberry recipes in me (not all together, of course.) –Amy

  8. Amanda Says:

    Those Emile Henry pans are damn adorable! I totally agree… They just scream “Bae something yummy in me!”

  9. Zoe Francois Says:

    Your pie looks so wonderful! I too just used blueberries from northern MN in a tart, they are truly the best!

  10. holler Says:

    That looks gorgeous. I have never had blueberry pie before. You have me totally convinced with this one and drooling!

  11. Robin Says:

    That is one beautiful pie plate… but the actual pie really takes the cake, or ehrm, pie? šŸ˜‰

  12. Ali: Thanks! And, don’t worry, I would never expect you to give up your beloved french silk.

    Mia: Thank you! And, yes, give pie a shot. I’ll be watching for the results. : )

    Christie I: Thanks!

    Polly: Oh, what a delicious week!

    Dawn: Grilling and tomatoes are on my list too. Enjoy your late Northern CA summer!

    Amy: Yes, maybe the pepper and tomato can keep each other company, while the berries and peaches hang out elsewhere. : )

    Amanda: I know! So, so cute. Sigh.

    Zoe: Thank you!

    holler: Thanks! Give it a shot.

    Robin: Ha. Thanks!

  13. Y Says:

    Awesome pie! And that pie plate? Looks like I’ve just found something else I covet for my kitchen šŸ˜€

  14. Y: Thanks! For $5 at Target, it could be yours!

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