Saturday, August 02, 2008

Fresh Blueberry Pie

As part of my 35 things to do before I'm 36, #11 is to make a pie from berries I picked that morning.

Well, blueberry season is at its peak. And, I love blueberries. And, I remember how much fun I had last time I picked them. And looking ahead, blackberry season is right around the corner, and I don't like picking blackberries, and I really don't like all them dang seeds.

So now seemed like a good time to work on #11.

fresh blueberry pie

July 31, 2008
Name of pie: Fresh Blueberry Pie
Occasion: Time to make a pie from berries I picked that morning
Constituents: One Flaky Pie Crust and four cups of freshly picked blueberries

Because this is kind of a double post, you'll have to go to my other blog to vicariously enjoy blueberry picking on Sauvie's Island with me last Thursday. It was a good day.

I forget that pie making is not a spontaneous act. Pie dough likes a lot of time to rest up in the refrigerator. Pie dough is best if you let it sit around and sort itself out for 24 hours.

So when I came home Thursday afternoon with my bounty of blueberries I realised I had a long time to go before I could be enjoying pie. I took a deep breath, and began to assemble pie dough ingredients. I discovered a mystery flour in a jar in my cupboard--was it glutinous or not? Was it unbleached all-purpose? Was it bleached all-purpose? Was it cake flour? Was it pastry flour?

The flour looked a lot like the unbleached all-purpose I had, so chances are that's what it was. But why did I have it stored in a different jar? With no label?

Unanswered questions, friends.

I used all the unknown flour plus my unbleached all-purpose flour for the pie dough. Now, RLB recommends bleached AP or pastry flour, but I wasn't about to leave the house for flour. I thought I could just make do.

I followed RLB's instructions for a basic flaky pie crust as best I could; I still have no idea what she's talking about when she tells you to grab the openings of the bag with your fingers and knead the dough with your hands and knuckles. I kept trying to do what I think she says, but all the dough did was stick to the bag, remaining crumbly and non cohesive. So I kept on fumbling with it, thinking that maybe the dough was like mousseline buttercream, and it looks worse before it looks right. However my hands must get really hot because the butter began to soften and get melty and the dough still was a crumbly mess. Instead of refrigerating the dough for a bit like I should have, I dumped the dough out on the counter and mashed it together. Then I wrapped the mess in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for several hours, just like RLB says.

I eventually went back to it, and began the rolling out process. It kind of rolled out okay, but the butter began to melt again and I could see big patches in the dough that were just softened butter--no flour--and I got frustrated. I guess I'm not a very patient person. I wrestled the dough into the pie plate, patched up the really buttery parts with leftover dough, put it back in the refrigerator, and went to bed.

I decided that a pie made with berries I picked the day before was just as good.

The next morning wasn't the best morning for me. Many things did not go according to plan, including waking up, blind baking the pie, packing a lunch for work, and getting to work on time. I was not very chipper.

The pie crust would have been just fine if I didn't leave it in the oven too long and burn it. After all my struggles with the darn pie dough all I could do was ensure ruin and burn it?!

dangit!  i burnt the crust

I vowed to never make pie dough again. I would have cursed pie dough during my entire commute to work but I got stuck in unbelievably slow traffic and ended up cursing all of Portland for being in my way.

Like I said, I was not very chipper!

My plan was to cheat and buy a premade dough. I couldn't spend another 24 hours wrestling with pie dough. I didn't have it in me.

Work cheered me up, which it usually does. There's nothing like sticking little needles in people or shoving my elbow into the muscles of someone's back to give me a little perspective on my life. That hour or so I spend thinking about them and not at all about me is just the break I need to get me out of a mood. Thanks patients!

When I went home, I picked at my dark brown pie crust, and decided to use it anyway. What the heck. I could just eat around it if it was that terrible.

Making the filling for the blueberry pie was incredibly easy. Of the four cups of berries, you only cook down one cup with half a cup of water until the berries burst and the juices thicken. Then you add a cornstarch slurry and half a cup of sugar and stir like crazy for another minute or so. Once the jam-like stuff turns translucent you pull the pan off the heat, fold in the other three cups of berries, and spoon into the pie shell. Voila! Pie!

fresh blueberry pie

It is a very tasty pie. It tastes mostly like giant spoonfuls of fresh blueberries. I can't really taste the pie crust at all, which in this case is probably a good thing. When I eat the crust at the top, it is crisp and actually kind of flaky. It doesn't taste like anything more than very browned crust, but my guess is that it would have been quite excellent if done properly.

I like the natural sweet of the berries so I would cut down on the sugar next time--maybe only 1/3 cup sugar. Also, this morning I came across RLB's recipe for a meringue pie shell, with cocoa and bittersweet chip variations. As I was snacking on handfuls of fresh blueberries and chocolate chips when I found it, I thought a bittersweet meringue pie shell with the fresh blueberry filling would be kind of fun. And then my gluten free people would be able to eat it! And I could skip making pie dough! Win-win for everybody!

Actually, I am not giving up on pie dough. I really want to learn how to do it. I looked at Rose's blog yesterday after I burnt my crust and saw her heavenly peach galette. Her dough looks so silky and soft--it is really so beautiful. I hope that at some point in my life I will be able to make a dough like that.


  1. As you said, the pie tasted good. In the end that is all that matters.
    I now love making pastry. I understand it better now. But I use to really struggle and made tough old boots for pastry!
    I actually really like RLB pastry but I made the best ever from Dorie Greenspan's book. It was not straight forward. It involved a lot of re-chilling of the pastry. But it was excellent.
    I love blueberry pie and would love to have a slice of your pie with a hot cup of coffee. Yum.

  2. How dare you post this so early in the day! Do you realize the hunger and hankering for blueberry pie I must have at this moment? While I sit here in my office and contemplate the yummy offering I may find during my lunch break, how am I to get work one with blueberry pie on my mind???

  3. ECL,
    Should we do RLB's peach galette for a Lazy Bakers' project? Melinda loves peaches and is a pro at pastry. Pinknest is also a pro. I'm a rank amateur, but that peach galette did look tempting.

  4. Melinda, I think what I need is a hands-on pastry class! I would love to share some blueberry pie with you. We'll get to it someday.

    Kevin, why welcome to the blog! Sorry for distracting you with blueberry pie. I'd send you some, but I don't think it will make it. How about some cake?

    BBC, I would love to try Rose's peach galette. Even if I bomb on the pastry again, the peaches would be super tasty. I just heard that there is a u-pick peaches place out on Sauvie Island, and I would love the excuse to go picking again :) I say yes!

  5. It sounds like one thing that may have gone wrong is not adding enough liquid. It shouldn't be crumbly and non-cohesive. According to cook's illustrated, one of the worst things you can do to a pie crust is not add enough liquid, even though most recipes tell you to be skimpy. However, regardless if I"m using the CI or RLB recipe, I rarely have great success with crust (sigh). I think it usually turns out better with the CI recipe, though the previous poster makes me want to try Dorie Greenspan's. And the meringue crust idea sounds better yet (still haven't tried the italian meringue yet). I have never had a blueberry pie before, but the thought of a pie tasting like fresh blueberries sounds marvelous...maybe I'll make one today!

  6. aldaigle, it could possibly be more liquid was necessary. if you do make a blueberry pie, let us know about it! try the meringue crust for me while you're at it. thanks :)

  7. ECL, I think your pie looks great. I have a pretty much foolproof recipe for pastry which I'll email to you. Do you have a food processor?

  8. raiuchka, thanks for the recipe; please do email it along. i do have a food processor and have used it for the pie crust, but i would love to see your recipe. it might be just what i need!

    i'm still tripping over the fact that you left me a comment with cyrillic on the other blog. you are magical!

  9. Anonymous5/8/08 14:40

    If you have the book do try Dorie Greenspan's 'Good for Anything Pastry' . I think it might be the one Melinda is talking about, I have made it a couple of times and it really is good, not just a case for the filling but good in itself if you know what I mean! It is easy too! Jeannette

  10. I made the fresh blueberry pie today, and the filling definitely is tasty! I followed your suggestion for 1/3 cup sugar instead of 1/2 cup, and it was a good idea. Just enough sweetness when served with vanilla ice cream! I didn't try the meringue crust because I had to use up a crust that I've had in the freezer for 7 months (it sucked). I'll have to try the meringue crust for the next pie! Thanks for the blueberry pie inspiration...I wouldn't have thought of making it! I had also been thinking of making that peach thing that Rose recently posted about....

  11. Jeannette, thanks for the recommendation! I am itching to try another pie dough, but I am waiting for cooler weather.

    aldaigle, you are welcome for the inspiration! Thanks for letting us know how it turned out. The peach galette seems to have the baking world a buzz; I look forward to seeing all of our versions!