It’s about time for a blog named Pies & Pinups to have a pie recipe. Blueberry pie is a time-honored tradition in my family, though no matter what I do my version will never top my Nana’s, or that of the little old ladies who dish out pie plates by the hundreds at lobster dinners in the church basement. I did, however, have a gallon of last summer’s Maine blueberries in my freezer. With the addition of a little crushed lavender and a local lard and butter pie crust, this pie was a sweet/tart/flaky success. But I still didn’t look as cute as Nana while I was making it.
I love pies. I love their beautiful and satisfying simplicity, and how they get straight to the heart of the pie-eater in a way that few other comfort foods can. Pies can be straightforward vehicles for perfect seasonal fruit at the height of ripeness – in which case, the best thing to do is make an equally strong crust that supports, but gets out of the way of the gorgeousness it holds.
Pies can be sharp and surprising, a Shaker lemon pie for example, loaded with more of the sunny citrus (peels and all) than you could ever imagine tasting as wonderful as it does. Highbrow, lowbrow, comforting, experimental…pies can do it all. I’ll hold back on my love of savory pies till another post because they are SO UNDERRATED and so fantastic. Last but not least, this dessert (and fully-fashioned stockings) have inspired many cheeky illustrations of pies and pinups. Although I don’t recommend cooking in this attire, at least wear your Danskos.
Now, for the pie at hand. Start with your pie crust the day before you’d like to bake the pie. Chilling always helps the dough roll and shape more easily, and I don’t want to discourage readers with frustrating dough. Years ago I first made my all-time favorite pie, apple with a Gruyere crust, inspired by a favorite show called “Pushing Daises.” Imagine a cross between Amelie and Tim Burton, with a cute pie baker named Ned, a sarcastic detective, and an even cuter love interest with a vintage wardrobe that’s the stuff of dreams. That is the show in a nutshell. I found a recipe for the pie on this wonderful blog, Rice and Spice Cupboard, and I have sworn by the pie crust ever since. Apple Gruyere Pie recipe here! Crust recipe also on the card below.
You can follow the crust recipe on the site exactly, with all butter or part butter part lard, as I did here. Turns out I actually prefer all butter for a sturdier texture, but I was happy to have tried a local lard for the crust.
Almost all traditional pie doughs are assembled in the same way. Combine your dry ingredients, cut your chilled butter into small cubes, and work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter turns into pea-sized lumps. If you have “hot hands” or the mixture is a little too warm, put it into the freezer for five minutes and then continue working the butter.
Separate the dough in half, and flatten each half into a disk with your palms. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to roll your dough the next day, flour your board well and roll gently at first, pressing down and out in all directions until you have the circle size you want. This recipe can fit a 9 or 10 inch pie plate. You’ll want to roll the bottom crust slightly larger than the top so it’s sure to cover the sides. Preheat the oven to 400F.
-8 cups (four pints) of fresh or frozen blueberries (I prefer frozen because the juice is a little more manageable)
-juice of half a lemon
– 3 T to 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup cornstarch
– 1 T culinary lavender crushed in a mortar and pestle (or cinnamon, if lavender isn’t your style)
Pour the filling into the bottom crust. Press the sides of the crust firmly around the edges of the pie dish, then trim the excess with kitchen shears or a knife. Cover with the top crust and crimp the edges to seal, making at least one slit in the crust or pricking with a fork to let steam escape. Decorate as you wish, then egg wash with a pastry brush to finish. I mixed one egg yolk with a dash of cream, but you can also just use egg and a pinch of salt.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400, then lower oven temp to 350F and bake for another 50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. The blueberry lavender would go well with Meyer lemon ice cream, but also vanilla, or creme anglaise, or a classic glass of milk. Enjoy!
Pies & Pinups