Introduction: Night Sky Blueberry Pie
Finalist in the
Serious Eats Pi Day Pie Contest
This a beautiful and delicious pie that is not difficult to make. Serve it up with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, and guests or family will be delighted and impressed.
Step 1: Pate Brisee (the Crust)
This recipe is for one double-crust 9" pie. To get a flaky crust, the key is COLD. You could take it to the extreme and chill all of your ingredients, the bowl, and the work surface (marble is best). If you have naturally cold hands, you'll have even a better advantage. In this case, I only used very cold butter and ice cold water and tried to work quickly.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter*, cold and cut into small pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice water
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor (or bowl, if that is what you have to work with). Add butter and pulse to combine until resembles course crumbs, about 10 to 15 seconds (if using bowl, cut the butter in with a pastry blender). Add ice water in a steady stream, starting with just 1/4 cup. Process just until the dough pinches together (crumbs about the size of peas now). If necessary add a little more water until you get to this state. You should not need more than 1/2 cup nor require longer than 30 seconds processing.
Turn the dough out onto your work surface and divide in half. Shape into flattened discs, wrap each into plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (The dough can be frozen for up to a month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.)
Take one disc and roll it out onto your floured work surface until about 12" in diameter. Roll from the center out and rotate your crust quarter turns occasionally to avoid sticking. (As you can see in the pictures, mine is cracking and crumbing because I did not add enough water. I remedied this by wetting my hands with cold water and patching it together. If you have to do this, do not forget to re-flour the rolling pin to avoid sticking.) Transfer the crust to a 9" pie pan. (Because my crust turned out cracky and crumbly, I had to do a little patchwork. It turned out fine though.) Trim the edges, and fold them under. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Take the second disc and roll it out as above. (Again, mine is cracking. It is not a big deal, however, as I'm going to be cutting small shapes out of it.) Cut your moon out with a circle cookie cutter. Move this piece to the side, and use the same cookie cutter to cut off part of the circle to form a slivered moon. Use a small star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out as many stars as you can get out of the rolled-out crust. Place your moon and stars on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, continue on to the blueberry filling.
* A note on the butter: Here is an opportunity for a little experimentation. For this pie, I'm using cow butter, but for the best pie crust I ever made, I used sheep butter. However, it is somewhat difficult to come by, unless you or someone you know raises sheep. Goat butter is easier to find, but I've not tried it -- yet. I hear duck fat results in an exceptionally tasty, flaky crust but have not tried that either. A lot of people use frozen shortening, but I simply prefer butter.
Step 2: The Blueberry Filling
4 cups fresh blueberries*
1/2 cup granulated white sugar** (plus a bit more for sprinkling on the top)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup tapioca flour***
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
Juice from 1 lemon (hand-squeezed)
Stir together all of these ingredients into a bowl. Set aside.
You may notice in the pictures that I forgot the cinnamon, so I sprinkled some on the top before popping the pie in the oven.
* About the blueberries: I've always used fresh blueberries, but if frozen is what you have, by all means, use them. I think 5 or 5 1/4 cups frozen will be adequate. Just thaw and drain them prior.
** About the sugar: I do not like an overly sweet pie, so if you want something more sugary, add more.
*** About tapioca flour (known as well as tapioca starch): If you want to use another thickener, like flour, cornstarch or arrowroot, go ahead. Arrowroot and tapioca flour will give a nice glossiness to the blueberries though. According to Joy of Baking , 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour = 1 1/2 tsp. tapioca flour = 1 1/2 tsp. arrowroot and 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour = 1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. cornstarch.
Addendum: I just happened to be reading Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and noticed that she substitutes equal parts flour for tapioca flour for thickening. I get conflicting googling results too.
Step 3: White Wash, Assembly & Baking
1 egg, separate white and yolk
1 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
Remove the bottom pie crust from the refrigerator. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of egg white on the bottom crust. This will keep the pie from becoming soggy. Add the blueberry filling in the pie crust. Remove the moon and stars from the refrigerator, and place them on the pie, starting from the outside working in and overlapping the shapes slightly.
Whisk together the egg yolk and cream, and brush the yolk-cream mixture onto the crust edges and top. Sprinkle the top with sugar, and put the pie back in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the pie from the refrigerator and place a foil ring (you can make one from aluminum foil or use a store-bought one) around the edges to prevent them from burning. Place a cookie-sheet lined with parchment paper on a rack placed at the bottom third of oven. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, removing the foil ring at about the 20 to 25 minute mark. The pie is done when the edges and top are golden brown and the blueberry filling is bubbling.
Remove the pie to a wire rack to cool, and it is ready to eat in several hours. Serve it up with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Leftovers can be stored for 2 or 3 days at room temperature.
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