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Making a Great Blueberry Pie

Pie is one of the great joys of life. To all of those cake fans in the great pie vs. cake debate, I respect you, but you are wrong. Nothing else in the world can convey the same set of emotions as a delicious homemade pie.

Recently, my significant other and I went out to a u-pick strawberry farm up here near Ottawa, and began the year’s u-pick activities. We made jars upon jars of strawberry jam. Once that was said and done, I found I had gained three things:

  1. The knowledge that using lemon zest in strawberry jam adds a lovely lemonade flavor that cleanses the palette at the end of each bite.
  2. An acute frustration with liquid pectin, and a renewed appreciation for the dry stuff
  3. A hankering for blueberry pie.

Preparing for pie

The blueberry season hasn’t quite started in Ottawa, but I’ve spent the last ten months preparing for this year’s set of pies. I’ve studied at Rouxbe, researched approaches from across the globe, sampled the wares of various patisseries, and baked countless pies, all in the efforts to perfect the blueberry pie.

Now, in preparation for blueberry season, I humbly submit my candidate for world’s best blueberry pie to the internet for critique.

The recipe

The standard bag of frozen blueberries contains 600g of blueberries (150 shy of the ideal)—one of the many reasons that makes fresh blueberries easier to cook with, although this will work with the proper amounts of frozen blueberries as well (a bit more tapioca may be needed).

This recipe will make a single stunning blueberry pie with a lattice top.

Ingredients

For the pie crust:

  • 220g of all-purpose flour
  • 165g of butter (1 12 sticks)
  • Roughly four tablespoons of ice water
  • Heavy pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

For the filling:

  • 750g of blueberries, washed and dried
  • 35g of butter
  • 2 tbsp tapioca
  • 16 of a lemon, zested
  • Granulated sugar to taste

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, heat 250g of the blueberries over medium heat, stirring regularly. The berries should begin to burst, at which point begin to add the sugar so that the juices are thickened by the sugar and it tastes sweet—more than you’d like the pie to be, but not unpleasantly so.
  3. Once the berries have mostly burst, add another 250g of blueberries and the lemon zest. While you do so, add sugar until the pie is only a bit sweeter than you’d like the final product to be. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and add tapioca. If the berries are particularly juicy, add more tapioca. Let cook gently while some of the new berries burst, around 4-6 minutes. Then remove from the heat.
  4. Now, begin work on the pie crust itself. The recipe is fairly standard. Rub cold cubed butter into flour, sugar, and salt using hands until it resembles sand. Then add ice water until it comes together into a vaguely moldable ball and chill for ten minutes.
  5. Divide into unequal portions—one should be just less than 2/3rds of the dough—this will be your bottom crust. Place into pie pan, but do not yet crimp.
  6. Using 125g of the remaining blueberries, distribute them across the bottom crust relatively equally, and sprinkle with tapioca. This will help prevent the crust from getting too soggy.
  7. Pour your warm cooked blueberry mixture over the top of the blueberries, followed by the remaining 125g of blueberries, and then flake the butter across the top.
  8. Working quickly, roll out the remaining dough into a semi-circle just larger than half the pie, and slice into strips. Using these strips form a lattice pattern across the top of your pie, and crimp the edges. Sprinkle granulated sugar across the top of the pie.
  9. Bake for 45-55 minutes on a middle-to-low rack in the oven. The pie crust should be golden brown and the blueberry mixture should have cooked down a bit.
  10. Let sit for at least 45 minutes to cool and set before serving.
  11. Enjoy! (Sweetened whipped cream is a great pairing)