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.
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.
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
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.
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.