Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Angelina and I make a pie:
She picks, I bake

Let's hear it for teamwork! And blog friends! A few months ago, I mailed Meyer lemons to Angelina of Dustpan Alley in Oregon, and now she has mailed me blueberries.

From Oregon! That she picked herself!!

And as evidence that there are berries and then there are berries, behold some blueberries I had in the fridge next to the ones that arrived on my doorstep today:

Think they make a difference in a pie? Heck, yeah.

So it's PIE TIME. Are you ready?

Cooks Illustrated's July/August issue had a recipe for blueberry pie, with a very clever crust trick, that I've made a few times now. The crust trick is the use of vodka in place of half the water normally used to reduce the gluten that forms when flour is combined with water. The dough tastes funky, to be sure, but the alcohol evaporates in the baking, and there is no residual flavor. Thank goodness.

I disagree though with Cooks on the use of butter and shortening. I hate shortening. It's fine for greasing pans, but it's just wrong as a food ingredient. I've always made an all-butter crust; I tried their combination and found that it just didn't taste as good. I'll gladly sacrifice a little flakiness for taste, and anyway my version has a lovely texture.

There's a trick to their filling as well. They add instant tapioca to firm things up without making the filling gelatinous. And adding a grated apple increases pectin without effecting flavor. Tricky, aren't they?

But as usual, I think Cooks makes things more difficult than they need to be. I've simplified their procedures in a couple of places where it doesn't seem to make a difference to me. And in addition to using all butter, I've changed the amounts of the basic ingredients for the crust. Their amounts gave me too much leftover dough.


Crust (enough for a double-crust pie)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch square cubes
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons vodka

Combine dry ingredients in bowl of table-top mixer or food processor.

Combine water and vodka. Add ice.

As machine is running, add butter to flour mixture piece by piece. Continue mixing until dough starts to clump. With machine still running, add liquid tablespoon by tablespoon until dough looks like this:

You will probably not need all the liquid.

Divide dough into two balls, and flatten each into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill while you assemble the pie filling.


6–7 cups blueberries
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons lemon zest and 2 teaspoons juice
3/4 sugar
2 tablespoons instant tapioca
pinch of salt

Put half of the berries in a medium sauce pan and place over medium heat. Mash berries gently a few times with a potato masher to release the juices. Cook until about half the berries have broken down and mixture has cooked down by about half. Cool slightly.

Wrap grated apple in a clean dish towel and squeeze out the juice. Break apple apart with your hands and place in a large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining uncooked berries, lemon zest and juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt. Toss to combine.

Assemble pie and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling juice bubbles.

Everyone has their own style of crust. Cooks recommends for this pie a full top crust with 1 1/2 inch holes in it, which I think looks silly. For berry pies I always like a lattice crust.

But that's another post. I'll call it Lattice crust: Yes, you can.

Thanks, Angelina!! I wish you were here for a piece.

Now go over to see what that clever Angelina is doing with blueberries and cheese. Sigh.


JenWebb702 said...

It is not fair to just see pictures of pie...I would rather eat a piece of pie!!

KatieGirlBlue said...

I'm jealous that you're able to turn your oven on! It's so damn hot here that when anyone even leans on the oven, I growl audibly.

Can't wait for the Butter, Figs and Blue ski trip! You name the mountain and I'll be there!

More, More, More said...

Blueberry pies are one of my favorites - I made my first just a few weeks ago - after reading that issue of cook's! Of course my did not look as good as yours!! Yours is so pretty!

lisagh said...

Holy moly! That is one damn fine looking pie.

(Twin Peaks reference? Anyone? Anyone?)

Belle in Bloom said...

Wow! Those are some huge blueberries! That pie looks amazing!! Love it!

The Mrs. said...

Those blueberries look heavenly!!!!

Angelina said...

So they didn't rot in transit...whew!

I'm so happy you got them. That pie looks so good. Oh my! I've never made a lattice crust but I'm going to have to do that soon. I think this is a recipe to copy into my recipe box.

I generally make tarts, never pie. Maybe it's time I learn to make good pie.

preppylittledress said...

what a great pie, can't wait to check out the recipe myself. thanks for sharing!

Steveaux said...

Wait what is "the machine"...same as the guy who knows Brian Wilson?

What do we "machine-less" people do to combine the ingredients?

Yours with love and tender cares,


Steveaux said...

OK I am all in on this a sweet deal on blueberries...but, my lovely wife insisted that what I wanted was tapioca pudding not instant tapioca. What is the difference? -S

Cindy said...

Nope--it's instant tapioca, at least for this recipe. If you're making pudding, that's another story. But what are you doing thinking about blueberries now anyway??

Steveaux said...

Your recipe in the middle. The blueberries I found looked much like the Oregon variety in your picture, and were super ripe...I had to inspect each one as the casualty rate was around 1 in 20. On the edge! And the apple trick is a good one, although it almost worked too well...what's not to like about a *little* gooiness after all?