June 24, 2011

Blueberry Pie

Given the number of years I've been baking you'd think that I'd be pretty proficient at it.  I'd like to think that for the most part that was true, but there's one thing where I definitely lack skill - pies .  I don't know why, but for some reason I've never really had much success with them; ironic considering how much I love making tarts.  Perhaps it's the double-crust that's my downfall?

So this summer I'm determined to conquer my pie-making fears.  To kick things off I tried  Cook's Illustrated blueberry pie recipe and had fantastic results.  

The crust is super flaky and the filling holds up beautifully with just the right amount of sweetness.  My favorite way to enjoy it?  Slightly warm with a scoop of Haagen-Dazs lemon ice cream...absolute bliss!  

Dare I be so bold as to attempt apple next?  Stay tuned and see.....

Blueberry Pie (Cook's Illustrated, July 2008)

Foolproof Dough
2 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces), plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup vegetable shortening , cold, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup vodka , cold (see note)
1/4 cup cold water

6 cups fresh blueberries (about 30 ounces)
1 Granny Smith apple , peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
2 teaspoons grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca , ground (see note)
pinch table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg , lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

For The Pie Dough: Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into 2 even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate while preparing filling until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

For The Filling: Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using potato masher, mash berries several times to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate and scatter butter pieces over filling.

Roll out second disk of dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 11-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Using 1 1/4-inch round biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough. Cut another 6 rounds from dough, 1 1/2 inches from edge of center hole and equally spaced around center hole. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least 1/2-inch overhang on each side.

Using kitchen shears, trim bottom layer of overhanging dough, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture. If dough is very soft, chill in freezer for 10 minutes.

Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.


  1. I'm going to try to attempt my first pie this summer...the crust can definitely be intimidating!! The use of vodka though is new to me.... just might have to give a try... your pies look delicious!!

  2. That first picture especially is so delightful! If ever a blueberry pie could be adorable that is it :) beautiful photography and the pie itself looks utterly scrummy

  3. Wow...stunning! Your photos are gorgeous and I loved that you used little tart pans for mini pies. I am with you---need to conquer the fear of pie baking....this is a great inspiration--thank you!

  4. Anonymous6/25/2011

    Wow beautiful!

    Just wondering on the 'Notes' about the vodka and the tapioca? Are there substitutions for those?

    Also any tips on how do the mini pies instead of 1 big pie?

  5. OMG - these little pies look sinfully delicious! And ALMOST too good to eat.

  6. The vodka and tapioca are key to the pie's success so I wouldn't recommend substitutions.

    I didn't make 1 big pie because it was too much for me to eat. For the mini pies I used a small round cutter to portion out the pie dough. I started checking the pies in the oven at the 30 minute mark just to ensure they didn't burn.

  7. Love the mini-pies! And I'm with you on finding pies my most challenging baked good. The old saying "easy as pie" is soooo not true. ;) Beautiful job on these - they look delicious!


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