I made a pie for the first time in August 2009. I’d eaten pie before that, not a lot, but some, and I just wanted to make my own pie to see what would happen, what I could create. Before I could do that, I needed a pie plate and a rolling pin. Like any aspiring baker, I headed to my local Williams Sonoma store where the kind sales associates helped Mom and me choose the best pie pan and rolling pin.
The rolling pin is a large maple one, handcrafted right here in America. It has handles and is on a ball bearing system for easy maneuvering. Beautiful to look at, it rolls the crust fantastically well and is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I just wish it got used more frequently.
Then there’s the pie plate, which I’ve also baked one or two round cakes in. It is from Emile Henry, made in France, and a bright, happy blue. Once again, I love the way it looks holding whatever has just baked in it. More than that, I can’t imagine a better pie pan, not that I’ve ever made a pie with a different one. It’s ceramic, so no, I can’t see through the bottom to make sure the bottom crust is browning, but that’s never really been an issue. The crust tends to brown beautifully, but never too much. In addition, clean up is a breeze, something that is very much appreciated when thick, bubbling, sugary fruit juices leak out of the pie during the baking process. All of the goo comes off without really having to scrub. It’s such an amazing pie pan. If you’re looking for a new one, I highly recommend those by Emile Henry. It makes pie baking even more fun, leaving a wonderful end product and making you look like a pie making star.
It’s really impossible for me to choose a favorite pie. There’s the pecan I already shared with you, the peach blackberry (the first I made) that I can’t make until peaches and blackberries are back in season, cherry, rhubarb, apple, and so many more. But blueberry is definitely high on the list. It’s the first fruit pie that I can make in spring as Driscoll’s rolls out their wonderful, first of the season American grown blueberries. They were a little tart yet, but I think that made the pie even better.
The golden brown crust, shimmering with sugar was crispy and oh so flaky. I added a little more butter this time since I tend to have problems with it cracking during the rolling process, and I think I may have improved Bobby Flay’s perfect pie crust just a little. There was almost no cracking this time. I could eat a pie made only of crust I love this recipe so much. I did have a little trouble getting the crust to turn that elusive, yet delicious golden brown. If you have the same issue, leave it at 400 degrees F for 5 or 10 extra minutes.
The filling was no slouch either. Besides crummy crust, my other pet peeve about pie is runny filling. It’s just no fun to cut a piece of pie and have crust with juice and a little fruit. By the time you get around to cutting another piece all the filling has gathered in the opening left by the missing piece. It’s not fun, and it’s not yummy, almost always leading to a gummy crust. I love cornstarch as a thickener and a heaping quarter cup of it did the job splendidly here. The juices were thick, glossy, and didn’t spread all over. The berries were plump and tender, some whole, some broken. Because they were quite tart, the pie was not overly sweet, but had the perfect balance of flavor letting the berries sing.
So many superfood blueberries are packed into this pie – no skimpy fillings here – it could be argued it’s a healthy pie. If you need an excuse to make this stellar pie that might just be it.
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ½ cup cold shortening
- 4-7 tablespoons ice water
- 8 cups blueberries, picked over
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of one orange
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons milk or cream
- 2 tablespoons sanding sugar, or more if needed
- Make the crust. In a food processor, pulse to combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse until the butter and shortening are about the size of small peas. Add the water, starting with 4 tablespoons, adding additional water 1 tablespoon at a time if needed. Pulse to combine. Once the dough holds together when pressed, dump it onto a piece of plastic wrap, being careful to avoid the blade of the processor. Press it gently together, wrap tightly, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. It may also be frozen like this for up to a week; just be sure to put it in a zipper bag first.
- When the crust has chilled, cut it in half, and roll each half on a floured surface, so that you have one big enough to fit in the bottom of the pie pan and one big enough to cover the top. Place one half gently into the pie pan. Fold the second half gently and place it inside. Put the pan in the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.
- For the filling, in a large bowl combine the blueberries, ½ cup of which should be crushed with your hands as you pour them in, sugar, orange zest and juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, and ginger. Stir to thoroughly combine. The mixture should be juicy and glossy. Take the pan with dough out of the refrigerator. Remove the top crust from the pan. Pour the blueberry mixture into the bottom crust. Scatter the cubes of butter over the top.
- Place the top crust over the pie. Press the top and bottom crusts together. I like to leave all the excess crust on the pie, because it’s my favorite part. Fold the crust under, press firmly together, and crimp with fingers or a fork, creating whatever design you prefer. Brush milk or cream over the pie using fingers or a pastry brush, making sure not to leave any pools. Sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Cut a few slits in the pie. Refrigerate pie for about 30 minutes until chilled.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place pie on foil lined baking sheet, as it will bubble over. Bake for 25 minutes until crust is starting to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 1 additional hour, rotating the pie halfway through if necessary. When the pie is finished baking, the crust should be golden brown and the juices should be bubbling. Tent the crust if it is getting too brown. Allow the pie to cool completely on the baking sheet. This will take several hours; allowing it to rest overnight is acceptable to make sure the juices have thickened. The pie will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil, and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. To thaw, place in 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes for ¼ of the pie. Increase the time if the piece is bigger.