09 August 2013

Blueberry Pie

I'm on a quest lately, not so much to learn to make pie, but to make pie in one go. As in: make the crust, roll it out, fill the pie, pop the thing in the oven AND have it come out with a non-gummy bottom crust. I'd been a little irritated perusing pie recipe after pie recipe that never seem to address the soggy bottom issue, and just describe the whole process as seamless -- wa la! out comes your perfect pie! Making me feel like I'd missed some important step in the directions when my bottom crust was mush. 

I went searching for tips and discovered there was in fact an overwhelming variety of suggestions to be found. Pie ladies across the nation suggested everything from brushing the bottom crust with a layer of egg white and letting this dry prior to layering in the filling, to placing the pie to bake, not on the bottom rack of your oven but on the floor of your oven, to produce, I suppose, a slightly griddled affect. Mellissa Clark goes a simpler route by suggesting the process of pre-baking the bottom crust, however the idea of taking this extra step, avoiding a shrinking bottom, cooling, filling, covering, re-baking, just wasn't what I wanted. 

In the end, I chose a variety of techniques utilizing Cooks Illustrated dough; brushing the bottom crust with an egg white; moving the rack to the lowest point in the oven; starting with a high temperature; and de-liquidizing my pie filling as much as possible with a healthy dose of cornstarch and egg. It worked!  The resultant pie had a pleasant top AND bottom crust, and a filling that was less goopy than some berry pies but suited me and mine just fine. 

Blueberry Pie 

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated (makes enough for double crust 9-inch pie)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

7-8 cups blueberries, picked over and rinsed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk 

1 tablespoon cream
1 tablespoon raw sugar

Filling: In a large bowl, mix together blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, zest and juice of lemon. In a smaller bowl whisk together egg and egg yolk -- add to berries and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally while you make the dough. 

Dough: In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and with pastry cutter, or two knives, cutting in butter until mixture is the consistency of slightly lumpy cornmeal. Add the water and vodka a little at a time and combine until the dough just comes together. You may need to add a bit more or less liquid. (This process can also be done in a food processor). Without mixing it too much, form dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other, and flatten into a disk about 5-inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Move oven rack to lowest tier of oven and preheat oven to 400 F. 

Remove dough from fridge and let sit for 5 minutes or so at room temperature. Unwrap plastic wrap and place another piece of plastic wrap on top. Alternately you can roll the dough between two pieces of wax or parchment paper, generally the dough needs to remain cold to avoid sticking, but needs to be soft enough to roll into a thin 1/4 inch thick crust. Roll out till approximately 11 inches wide and drape into pie pan. Fit into pan and prick bottom of the crust with tines of a fork all over. Fill with blueberry filling. Roll out the top pie crust using the same method and drape over the top of the berries.  Pinch the seams all the way round with your fingers. Cut 4 slits into the top of the crust. Brush the top of the pie with cream or milk and sprinkle with sugar (or raw sugar if you have it).

Bake! Cook pie for 20 minutes, reduce oven to 375 F and continue cooking for 40 - 45 minutes or until filling begins bubbling out from crust and top crust is golden brown. Remove and let cool for 30 minutes before serving. 

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