First off, I’ll be the first to admit that taking on baking pies in the middle of summer in a condo without air-conditioning may not have been the best idea. In my defense , summer is the best time of year for fresh fruits and vegetables. If I wanted to make great pies with fresh seasonal ingredients I’d need to suck it up endure a hot kitchen and a hot house, and move forward with my summer of pie and ice-cream.
Once I made peace with the heat, I choose my second pie just in time for Fourth of July. I was invited to a party at friend’s house, I thought this would be a great opportunity to try another pie and to be able to share it with friends.
I chose to make a blueberry pie because I’ve never made a blueberry pie. Not only had I never made a blueberry pie, but I had never eaten one either. I would be trying something new on two fronts.
This pie had the extra challenge of a double crust. Making pie crust has always been intimidating to me, I think because everyone makes such a huge deal out of the fact that it is so easy to ruin pie crust with the wrong temperature of the ingredients ,using the wrong fat or overworking the dough. Since (for me anyway) good crust is essential to a good pie. I was little nervous to attempt makin crust unsupervised.
With my years of baking experience and countless hours of food tv watching under my belt. I felt I was well equipped to tackle making pie crust on my own. Off I went to on search of a the perfect blueberry pie recipe.
I decided to go with a recipe from my America’s Test Kitchens baking cookbook. America’s Test Kitchen’s recipes are always well-tested and they give very detailed step by step instructions along with photos to help guide me through process. Also all of their recipes are geared toward the home cook, so the ingredients are always easy to find and are readily available in most grocery stores.
I decided to use a crust recipe that combined both shortening and butter. Shortening is known for making pie crust flakey and tender. That is exactly what I am looking for in a good pie crust. Later this summer I plan to bake an all butter crust to compare to see if the addition of shortening really does make better crust.
With my butter in the freezer and my recipe in my hand I embarked on my first ever blueberry pie!
I assembled my crust ingredients and equipment which included a cheese grater (I’ll explain the need for that later). I needed to double this recipe because I was making a double crust pie. The great thing about the recipe I was using is it included both the weight and cup measurements. I broke out my trusty food scale which makes doubling a recipe so much easier (no pesky fractions to deal with). I put the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Once those were measured and whisked to combine, I got my shortening out of the refrigerator. and began dividing it into 1/2 inch pieces. Then I cut the shortening into the dough using two butter knives (not pictured) once all the shortening was cut it was time for the butter. The recipe instructed me to freeze the butter, then using a cheese grater grade the butter directly into the bowl. I thought this was little odd. This method was great for getting the butter in small even pieces without heating it up.
Now using two forks I mashed in the butter into the other ingredients until it resembled course wet sand. Once the butter was all incorporated I added a few tablespoons of ice water and gently stirred the dough until it started to come together. After that I separated the dough into two equal amounts (with the help of my food scale) made two disc wrapped them in plastic and put them in the fridge over night.
I got up the next morning fresh and ready to tackled the next phase of my blueberry pie. I rolled out both disk of dough. Placed one in my pie plate the other on a cookie sheet covered both with plastic wrap and put them back in the refrigerator to chill for 30 more minutes.
While the dough continued to chill it was time to make the filling. Which was very simple compared to making the crust. This recipe calls for fresh blueberries not frozen. I combined the blueberries, cornstarch (thickener),sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large bowl. Stirring careful as not to break the berries.
Once that berries were mixed with the other ingredients, it was time to pour them into the pie shell.
All that was left was to cover with the top crust. I brushed the crust with an egg white (this helps the crust to get that beautiful golden brown color) and sprinkled with sugar and in the oven it went!
Fifty minutes later this emerged from my oven!
I won’t kid you it was really hard to wait for this pie to cool to serve it. I took it the Fourth of July party and it was hit! Cory said it was one of the best pies I’ve ever made! I must say I was pretty impressed by how well it turned out. I have a feeling I’ll be making this pie again. Stepping out of my comfort zone seems to be working out.