Friday, July 27, 2012

Blueberry Pie

You know, even though it’s unbearably hot, sometimes you just have to turn on the oven. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and endure the extra heat in the kitchen. The entire summer cannot go on without any baking (even if it does go on without any cooling off.) People like me have to make ourselves sweat. It’s in our nature. Besides, how else are you going to get a blueberry pie?

I had a large box of delicious, Midwestern-grown fresh blueberries, and I really wanted to make a lot of lovely desserts and muffins and the like. Well, my time and energy got me a batch of blueberry pancakes, and a few blueberries sprinkled on my cold cereal, but also, happily, a wonderful blueberry pie.

This open-faced blueberry pie recipe is from Rose Levy-Beranbaum’s The Pie and Pastry Bible. It consists of a blind baked crust (there’s some more on techniques for that in this post) filled with a simple mixture of a small amount of cooked blueberries and a lot of fresh blueberries. That’s right, the filling doesn’t need to be baked. So, you only need to run the oven long enough to bake the crust, not the hour or so it would take to bake a double-crusted or lattice-crusted pie. That’s summer baking I can live with! 

And it tastes absolutely delicious! Mostly because it tastes like real blueberries because that’s mostly what it is. Of the four cups of blueberries in the pie, one cup is cooked with a little water, then sweetened with sugar and thickened with cornstarch. The rest of the blueberries are stirred into that mixture to finish the filling. It’s really, really easy, but the quality is entirely dependent upon your blueberries. I was fortunate enough to have some delicious berries and so I had a delicious pie. The blueberries are gently sweetened and are allowed to speak for themselves. The filling even holds together pretty well when the pie is sliced.

In the original recipe, Levy-Beranbaum uses one of the crust recipes that is also in the book, but I threw together one that I know works for me, basically half of the recipe in this post. The crust is brushed with egg white just after it bakes which supposedly keeps the crust from getting too soggy. I have to say that my crust stayed pretty nice for a day or two. In this heat, however, I would recommend storing any leftover pie in the refrigerator, which might cause the crust to soften.

Yes, one must heat the oven to make this blueberry pie, but it’s only for a little while. If you can get some really good fresh blueberries, it’s worth sweating it out for that short time to make this wonderful pie. I for one am hoping all the good blueberries aren’t gone from the markets yet. I want to make more pie!

Open Face Blueberry Pie
Adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy-Beranbaum

Pastry for a single crust pie, rolled out to fit a 9-inch pie pan
about 1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups fresh blueberries, divided
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch salt
lightly sweetened whipped cream for serving, optional but highly recommended

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Loosely fit the pastry into a 9-inch pie pan being careful not to stretch it. Line the pastry with parchment paper or foil, folding the parchment to fit where needed. Fill the parchment with pie weights (or beans or rice if you prefer). Bake at 425 F for 20 minutes.

2. Remove from the oven and carefully lift out the parchment and weights. Prick the crust bottom and sides gently with a fork. Return to the oven and bake 5-10 minutes more or until pale golden-brown.

3. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for about 3 minutes. Brush with the egg white and set aside.

4. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch and water. Stir to combine well. Set aside

5. To prepare the filling, place 1 cup blueberries in a medium-size saucepan with the remaining ½ cup water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes or until the blueberries burst and the mixture begins to thicken.

6. Stir the cornstarch mixture, sugar, lemon juice and salt into the blueberry mixture. Simmer for about 1 minute, or until the mixture becomes thick and shiny. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 3 cups blueberries.

7. Spoon the blueberry mixture into the baked pie crust. Let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Serve slices with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.

Makes about 8 servings. Keep leftovers for about a day at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator. The crust may soften in the refrigerator.

One year ago: Cola Brined Chicken

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