August 21, 2010

New Jersey Blueberry Pie

Guest blogger Camille here with a post about a blueberry pie that I think Lauren wants the secret to, although there is no big secret, just a good recipe worth sharing. With all the fresh blueberries available to us in Philadelphia from the Garden State, I have spent the latter half of this summer figuring out what to do with those two pound boxes of blueberries that I clearly cannot resist buying. This pie has been my most successful blueberry endeavor.

Image caption: In retrospect, I should have snapped a picture of a slice of the pie but eating sometimes takes precedence.

1/4 cup firm butter (1 cube)
1/4 cup margarine
2 1/2 cups all purpose or pastry flour plus 3 tablespoons for berry filling
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2-4 tsp lemon juice
scant 4 tbs cold water
5 cups fresh blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbs turbinado sugar

I use a food processor to make the crust because the recipe comes from a cookbook (that my grandmother wrote) for food processor recipes. The berry section of this recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

To make the pastry, start by cutting butter and margarine into 5 or 6 slices each. With the steel blade in the processor, add 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, and slices of butter and margarine. Process until butter is in small pieces resembling corn meal. Break egg into a measuring cup. Add lemon juice and enough cold water to make contents equal to 1/2 cup. Beat with a fork to blend. With processor running, add liquid mixture in a steady stream through the feed tube. Stop as soon as dough gathers into a ball, over-processing will affect the texture of the crust. Turn onto a floured surface. Shape into two smooth balls without cracks at the edges. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 week.

To make the filling, start with fresh blueberries. I haven't tried this recipe with frozen blueberries but I would recommend thawing them first if you're going to follow the cooking times here. Rinse and pick over blueberries removing stems and moldy berries. Drain well. Combine berries, 3 tbs flour as a thickening agent, 2/3 cup sugar, and 1-2 tsp lemon juice. Separate about half of the berry mixture and cook over medium to low heat until the berries break down into a syrupy texture, about 15 minutes. Recombine the cooked blueberries with the raw ones and chill back to room temperature, I put the mix in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

While the berry mixture is cooling, remove well-chilled dough from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature to soften slightly. Roll one half of the dough a 12 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. To transfer pastry, wrap it around the rolling pin (note here, I do not have a rolling pin so I use a tall aluminum thermos or a washed empty wine bottle) and unroll onto the 9 inch pie plate without stretching it. Trim the crust to the edge of the pie plate. Chill again before baking to reduce shrinking. While the bottom crust is chilling, roll out the second half of the pastry dough to a 12 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Cut openings in the top crust to allow for steam release during baking.

Transfer room-temperature berry mixture to the chilled bottom crust. Transfer the top crust following the same wrapping-around-the-rolling-pin method taking care not to stretch it. Fold the top crust over the bottom crust making a thicker crust around the edge. Shape the edge with your fingers as desired. For a glossy sugar texture, brush the top crust with milk (another note, I do not have a baking brush because I find that my fingers work well for this and are easier to clean). Sprinkle on about 2 tbs turbinado sugar.

Carefully cover the pie with aluminum foil with a hole cut out of the center. This prevents the edges from over-browning. Bake in a 375 F oven for 25 minutes. I always rotate baked goods two or three times during baking to ensure even heating despite the uneven-ness of my little old oven. Remove the foil after 25 minutes and bake 25 to 30 minutes more. Pie will be finished when berry filling is bubbling out the edges or through slits in the top and crust is golden.

Cool the pie on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving so that it does not fall apart when you serve it up.

I served this pie with homemade whipped cream. To make whipped cream, wisk a half pint of heavy cream with a hand or electric mixer. It takes me less than 10 minutes to whip by hand. Be careful of over-whipping (it will not look like the canned whipped cream because that is made by injecting carbon dioxide gas instead of being manually whipped), finished whipped cream should barely hold its shape. When cream is about halfway done add 1-2 tsp sugar and scant vanilla extract if desired. Chill until serving.


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