Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Huckleberry-Blueberry Slab Pie

Last weekend, I took a little day trip up to Port Orchard, Washington to see a couple of friends, and pick up Joelf and drag him back to Portland for a little bit. The drive takes about three hours one way so I picked up a two-pound package of blueberries for snacking. Sadly, the berries were picked too early and had little taste. I was pretty disappointed, since it is the tail-end of blueberry season and HELLO, these should be RIPE.

huckleberry-blueberry slab pie

I told Joelf my blueberry woes when I got him, and he said to mix them with some of the frozen huckleberries he left with me when he moved out a couple of years ago. He says the hucks would increase the flavor but the blues would tone down the tartness.

Suddenly my mind began spinning with blueberry-huckleberry possibilities.

Pie seemed the obvious answer, but I am not a pie fan. More than that, I am not a berry pie fan. Cooked berries tend to get all gloppy and jammy and when presented in pie form, there's just too much of it and not much of anything else to cut the texture and flavor. I thought of a cobbler, but that isn't much more appealing to me. (Now, stone fruit pies and cobblers, that I can get behind.)

Then I had it: slab pie. A slab pie is baked in a jelly roll pan, and has twice as much pastry as there is filling. It is also huge and can (literally) feed a crowd, but I had two pounds of blueberries and so I figured a slab pie would use them all up. Deb at Smitten Kitchen published a sour cherry slab pie recipe I could use as a base, and so that was it. (I noticed she modified a Martha Stewart recipe, so if have Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook the recipe is in there too.)

huckleberry-blueberry slab pie

Deb's (and Martha's) recipe is for a jelly roll pan smaller than the half sheet pan I have, but I didn't notice that until I tried fitting the bottom crust in my pan. Her recipe recommends 1.5x her all butter pie crust, but in the comments (as I found later) people said using 2x the recipe was perfect for a half sheet pan. That would explain why my pastry didn't quite fit in my pan, and why I had to roll it out extra thin to get it to fit.

By the way, her all butter pie pastry is simple and really easy. I have not yet said that about any pie pastry recipe so keep that in mind, bakers. All you pie people have your favorite recipe and I think I might have found mine.

The hucks, about 3.5 cups worth, defrosted with a good amount of juice which I reduced by half. The huckleberries and blueberries got tossed with about a cup of sugar (I like to keep it tart), the zest of one lemon, juice of half a lemon, and a couple tablespoons of cornstarch. I let this macerate while I got the crust into the pan, then spread out the berries, and rolled out the top crust.

huckleberry-blueberry slab pie

(Ya'lls, the top crust was getting soft and crappy as I rolled it out, so I folded it into thirds to make a long skinny rectangle, put it in the refrigerator to give both of us a break, then rolled it out again. I realised that I just put extra layers into my top dough which probably added to its super flakiness--I might just do that on purpose from now on.)

I forgot to wash the top crust with milk or an egg white, so it didn't brown to a deep golden color as I would have liked. Also, the fork pricks were not enough to let the steam escape while baking, so I ended up cutting longer slits with a knife while it was baking. In hindsight, a lattice top or cutout would have been better as many of the slits jammed up with berry juice and I had to re-cut them. I also think I could have used another tablespoon of cornstarch as juices were madly bubbling away between the crust and the edge of the pan, and some did spill over onto the bottom of the oven. Alas.

I lightly glazed the pie about an hour after it was removed from the oven, and I like it. I wouldn't glaze a regular pie but with so much pastry the lemon juice-powdered sugar glaze is a nice little touch. Especially since the berries are so tart.

huckleberry-blueberry slab pie
I am happy with my slab pie experiment. I realise a galette is also a higher ratio of pastry to filling so in the future my fruit pie experiments will probably lean towards them. The slab pie is awesome but without a potluck to feed it to, it is quite a lot of pie. Not that I'm complaining.

10 comments:

  1. A very creative use of the berries - have never heard of that combo before. I totally agree with you about berry pies. Usually I can eat about two bites, then I'm done.

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  2. The secret to a tasty berry pie is eating it with a ratio of one part ice cream to one part pie! I was so excited to find frozen huckleberries 3 years ago up in Government Camp. A gallon bag for $40. Bought it, and have so far made one half pie with it. That was money well spent, right? I like pies and always have plans to make them, and then I never do. Hence the stand up freezer filled with blackberries, grapes, and huckleberries that are years old. I'll have to try slab pie sometime...looks tasty!

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  3. raiuchka, yep. i'd rather have berries any other way then cooked.

    amanda, it was money well spent, although joelf scoffs at blueberries not from montana so don't ask him. these huckleberries were from the summer of 2009 or '08, and they were still perfect.

    one part ice cream to one part pie? well that does sound pretty good...especially if the pie is warm.

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  4. Slab pie - wow - might need to try that sometime. Yours looks fantastic.

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  5. Very creative of you! I've only recently become familiar with huckleberries. Until my daughter spent a summer in Alaska, I thought it was just the name of a cartoon character! lol

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  6. Melissa, try the slab pie! When you've got a lot of people to feed, that is.

    Lois, huckleberry hound! Yep. Joelf introduced me to huckleberries too.

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  7. I have never worked with huckleberries before, but I must admit your slab pie had my mouth watering!

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  8. Jenniffer, thank you! If you ever have the chance to get some huckleberries, I highly recommend it.

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  9. I can't even tell you how delicious this looks and sounds!

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  10. Thanks Vicki! How have you been and what have you been baking??

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