Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blueberry Pie

Nothing like a long day at work to make you crave pie! I wanted something summery, sweet, and fresh to tickle my palate, and this concoction slid with easy grace into my heart.

I love Cook's Illustrated recipes for the background information and notes they give on their choices throughout the cooking process. It's enormously educational and has the added benefit of making me feel like a scientist. (Does Bill Nye have cookbooks?)

The crust came first. I placed salt, sugar, and 1 1/2 cups of the flour in the bowl of my food processor and combined them with a few quick pulses. Then I removed the butter and shortening from the freezer, where I'd placed them several minutes previously to get cold. I cut a stick and a half of butter into 1/4-inch pieces and scooped out 1/2 cup of shortening and quartered that.

I added these to the flour mixture and processed for 15 - 20 seconds until the dough was smooth, at which point I poured another cup of flour into the bowl and pulsed it into Sameness. Using a rubber spatula, I scooped the dough (which at this point should be smooth and tacky, but not overly sticky) into a medium bowl. There I sprinkled it with 1/4 cup vodka and then a 1/4 cup water. After all the liquid was added, I molded the dough with my hands, kneading it together until the water was fully incorporated. Then I divided the dough in two and formed each half into a 4-inch disk. The disks were then wrapped in plastic and placed in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.

I took out one of the disks and rolling it out on a floured work surface, pressing and spreading it till it was about 12 inches in diameter. Then I carefully transferred the base into my pie pan, allowing for at least a 1-inch overhang (though I did not achieve quite this all the way around.)

Then the time had dawned to construct the fabulous filling. I emptied three cups of berries into a medium saucepan and set the heat to medium.

The berries cooked for about 8-9 minutes. All the while, I used a potato masher to press down and juice the little buggers.

Once the juice had reduced and started to thicken, I took the berries off heat. In a medium bowl, I combined the other three cups of berries, grated apple, lemon zest, lemon juice, tapioca, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Then I poured in the cooked berries and their juices and stirred it all well to combine.

I set the oven to 400 and placed a rimmed pan on the lowest rack of the oven to heat up, and then I removed the pie pan from the refrigerator and slowly filled it with aromatic goodness.

Then I removed the other disk of dough from the refrigerator and rolled it out circularly into a 11-inch diameter. I took my tablespoon and--hollow-side down--pressed it into the middle of the circle, turning it slightly and pressing down again until I had a full circle cut-out. I removed the flat circle and repeated the process six times in a circle around the original cut-out, making each no less than 1.5 inches from the edge.

I scattered butter pieces over the filling of the pie, and then I draped the now-perforated circle loosely over my rolling pin and laid it out over the top of the pie pan. I pressed the bottom of a fork around the edges of the pie to seal the borders and create ridges in the crust.

I should have brushed the pie with the egg wash at this point, but I completely forgot. Still delicious! But I'll remember the next time. Even took out the egg and everything...

I placed the pie on the heated pan in the oven and cooked it for thirty minutes, at which time I lowered the temperature to 350 and cooked it for another 30-40 minutes until the crust was a golden-brown

Mid-bake. I couldn't  resist.
.Then once it had achieved the desired hue, I put the pie on a cooling rack and placed it in the refrigerator for about an hour, until it had cooled to room temperature.

There you have it! Pie...oh, my.

Blueberry Pie (from Cook's Illustrated)

2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (and more for work surface)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold (1 1/2 sticks), chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cold, divided into 4 pieces
1/4 cup vodka (for texture, don't substitute)
1/4 cup water

6 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen and thawed)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca, ground
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated, wrung dry in dish towel
1 pinch table salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash