Week 2: blueberry pie sure is pretty

You know what’s one of the best ways to spend a sunny August afternoon? Making pie in your bare feet while listening to your wedding soundtrack. For an hour, all was right, and from now on, all pie-making will be set to music. Is a pie improved by singing, the way some people claim that playing music to plants makes them greener? I can’t say for sure, but this blueberry pie seems to suggest there might be something to this. Which has given me an idea. Every week I’ll post a song that I hummed/sang/danced along to while making each pie, and by the end of all this, there will be a pie-making soundtrack. (You’ll find the blueberry song at the end of the post!)

Blueberry pie makes me think of church suppers. Growing up in small town Ontario meant I went to a few church suppers. I loved church suppers because I got to eat a lot of really incredible granny food. Many of these grannies were also farmer’s wives, which meant they could cook like nobody’s business. Delicious, honest, simple, fresh food. Giant granny potlucks, that’s what church suppers were. And after gorging on casseroles with crispy tops or turkey with stuffing with apples and raisins or the best egg salad sandwiches possible on soft white bread, there was pie. A table full of pie. The only bad thing about church suppers was having to choose your pie, because you didn’t want to look greedy. Two different kinds was reasonable. Blueberry was usually one of my two, probably because at home the only kind of blueberry pie that happened was grocery store pie, and blueberry pie felt like eating jam for dessert – good jam. Granny jam.

For my pie, I went with Good Egg’s piecrust for a second time, and it was even flakier than my first try. It’s going to be hard to experiment when I’ve found such a great recipe so soon. I will though. I adapted the filling from Martha Stewart’s New Pies & Tarts. This is what I ended up with:

2 pounds (7 cups) of wild blueberries, picked over and rinsed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
scant 1/2 cup maple syrup (my addition)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
egg yolk & 1 tbsp heavy cream for egg wash
demerera sugar for sprinkling on top

1. Make piecrust using Good Egg’s method.
2. After you’ve rolled the bottom crust and it’s chilling in the fridge, toss together the berries, maple syrup, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Leave it for as long as it takes for the juices to start coming out of the berries (about a half hour for me).
3. Pour the berries and the juices into the piecrust and then stick it back in the fridge to chill while you do the lattice prep.
4. Martha’s book really explains the process clearly, with great step-by-step pictures. Part of the reason I bought the book was it shows many different ways to finish the top of the pie decoratively. You can read similar instructions here, and there’s a reasonably good video from Bon Appetit here. It doesn’t make it clear that you work alternately with the “odd-numbered strips” and then change to folding the “even-numbered strips.” Also, before I placed the strips on the pie, I chilled them for a few minutes, since they were quite thin and I was worried they would rip.
5. Whisk the egg yolk and the cream and brush it over all of the topcrust. Sprinkle generously with demerera.
6. Chill the pie. I put it into the freezer for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400º.
7. Put the pie onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes until it starts to become golden on top, then reduce the temperature to 350º and bake until the crust is nicely golden brown and the juices are bubbling. The juice might spill out over the edge and make you freak out a little – it doesn’t mean the pie will be runny in the end, as I thought it might. You’ll likely need to tent it with foil so that it doesn’t get too dark.
8. Cool completely before you dig in (apparently that takes 3 hours, which meant we were eating our first slices of pie at 10pm).

Before I put the pie in the oven, I had a feeling she was going to be a looker. I think I might have even whispered the word perfect and then a second after the word left my lips I was sure I’d cursed the pie. Here it is on the way into the oven:

And just out of the oven:

Not cursed. So pretty. (I may have done a pie dance. Maybe).

Things that were perfect:

  1. The crust – flaky flaky goodness.
  2. The consistency of the filling: whole blueberries lounging around in thick blueberry syrup. I licked the plate after I took the dishes to the kitchen (not ashamed).
  3. How pretty she was – homespun but not sloppy, just golden enough, ample.

Things I’d try next time:

  1. A shade more sugar (or more sugar less maple syrup), but it’s hard to know because each berry batch is different.
  2. Chilling for a full half hour before baking because the edge of the crust sagged a little in the oven and the edge of the lattice might have stayed fluted with more chillin’.

Here’s the blueberry pie song, the one that was on repeat while I worked and had me singing every time. (Note: this pie has nothing to do with heartache. It is the opposite of heartache pie. Also yes, I like country music. Sometimes):

I’m happy to present this pie with a ribbon for:

purple filling so good you’ll lick the plate

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