One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.

-Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, "Pavarotti, My Own Story"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blueberry Pie

I spent a lovely couple of days in Maine last week. I attended the wedding of a good friend, took a dip in the frigid waters of the Atlantic, and ate almost an entire blueberry pie at Ogunquit Beach. Pie on the beach sounds incongruous, but summer (and the berry-growing season) in New England is so short that I take my pie where I can. Besides, it was pretty darn delicious. I mock incongruity with my plastic fork!  Should you wish to partake in the same experience, read on for my blueberry pie recipe. 

The dirty secret, of course, is that summer berries freeze perfectly well. Isn't it nice that you needn't be limited by the seasons to have your blueberry pie? I make mine with frozen berries as these are often cheaper than the fresh kind and taste just as good once they are cooked. 

Everyone is always very impressed when you bring a homemade pie to a gathering, but they are not that difficult to make. I've cobbled together a recipe that cuts down the cooking (not counting the baking time) to less than 30 minutes of work. Don't worry that you'll screw it up. I assure you that it will taste great, and even a bad homemade pie is a million times better than any storebought one.

Blueberry Pie
Crust adapted from here, filling from here. Different berries or cherries can be used instead of blueberries. If using other berries, increase or decrease the sugar by a couple of tablespoons according to the sourness of your fruit. No need to defrost frozen berries before cooking. Wax paper makes rolling out the dough a breeze. The secret to rolling is to start in the middle, roll to the end. Lift the pin, return to the middle, then roll in the opposite direction. You can jazz up the filling by adding a couple of pinches of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg or fresh thyme, but I prefer this plain Jane version.

For the crust:
2 cups (250 g) flour
1 tsp salt
8 tbsp (120 g) melted butter
6 tbsp (75 ml) milk

For the filling:
5 cups (700 g) fresh or frozen blueberries
Grated zest of one lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/4 cup (30 g ) flour

1. Mix 2 cups flour and 1 tsp salt in a big bowl. Mix the butter and milk in a small bowl and add this to the flour mixture. Stir until the dough comes together in one piece. Add a bit more milk if the dough is very crumbly. 

2. Butter a 9 inch pie plate. Split the dough in two. Roll out each half between two sheets of wax paper.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Line the pie plate with one of the dough circles.

4. Combine all the filling ingredients and pour this mixture into the crust.

5. Place the second dough round over the filled pie. Crimp the edges of the bottom and top crusts together and fold them over to prevent the filling from leaking out.

6. Cut a few slits in the top crust to vent the steam. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbling.


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