Wednesday, March 21, 2012
So we haven't talked for awhile and I'll start by telling you one thing - I've never eaten a blueberry pie, ever. (Yes, I shall spare you the reasons for my silence last week but let's just say there were many good things - a more regimented workout regime, friends from Malaysia descending on our pad and a wedding; and then there were some things not so rosy, among those a busted back while I lifted weights still half asleep one Sunday morning.) I've got these two friends (guys, mind you), who can't stop going on about their affection for a good blueberry pie. One fine day one of them tweeted - "Where can I get a good piece of blueberry pie?" and that got me wondering.
The deal is I haven't seen fruit pies (fruits in general - berries, apple, other stoned fruits, not just blueberry) being served in the dessert section of restaurants here (by 'here' I mean Singapore and Malaysia, the two countries I'm in most of the time). Dessert bars and shops would bake tarts with fruits and pastry but a simple homey pie is never served, possibly as it would be considered too... homey? No one knows. With these two macho men waxing lyrical every now and then about gooey berry filling oozing under steaming, flaky pie crust filled with hip-enriching butter, I started fantasizing about how it would taste like, if and when I successfully bake one.
After some digging around, I found Deb's and Martha's pie crust recipes to be essentially the same - a shortcrust pastry or pâte brisée. I combined the method of using the food processor to incorporate the butter and hands to work in the water. The warm and humid weather in Singapore would've meant disaster by the time I'd manage to cut the butter and flour into pea-sized crumbs with a pastry cutter. Whichever method you choose, I'd say just make sure you still see some chunks of butter in the dough for that promise of flaky, crumbly awesomeness.
All of Deb's pie crust tips were proven to be useful, after all she wrote a trilogy of pie crust 101. Keep everything cold - I chilled my flour mixture, the food processor blade and mixing bowl. If my food processor bowl could've fit into my tiny fridge, it would've gone in there too. Work quickly and decisively when rolling out the cold dough (be patient and wait the two hours out!). Forget about rolling up the dough around the pin just to get it stuck and tearing later, transfer by folding. Martha's method to use parchment when rolling was what I hung on to religiously - it would've taken just minutes for the dough to stick to my counter, though sometimes I dream about having practical, commercial grade stainless steel worktops, but I digress. For those of you stressing about potential lattice madness, again, my favorite lady has a complete guide.
Now, I'll leave you with the reason why I love this pie. Other than the fact that the crust was just how I wanted it to be and the filling's flavor lifted with that small incorporation of a lemon's zest. Other than the fact that it became my lunch with a melting scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Vijay, my crazy other half who won't go near a blueberry or any other berries, ate an entire slice and claimed it would've been just as good without the ice cream. I made my man eat blueberries whole, nothing hidden like puree/jam/sauce/milkshake but actual, in-your-face blueberries. I should've listened to those two men sooner.
All butter pie crust recipe from Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen, pie recipe adapted barely from Martha Stewart.
Yield: A 9-inch round very tall pie or 11-inch round fairly level pie.
Note: A standard pie dish/pan would be 9 inches but I accidentally got myself an 11-inch Staub (don't ask). Therefore if you have one large lonely-looking dish there in the corner mostly ignored by 9-inch recipes, fear not. The pie crust recipe works with some slight dividing modification which I included in this recipe.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks/8 ounces/16 tablespoons/1 cup unsalted butter, diced into 1/2-inch pieces and very cold
- 1 cup ice water
- 8 cups/4 pints blueberries, picked over
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon milk
Prepare the pie crust: In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt, 2-3 times. Retrive the cold butter from the fridge and add it to the food processor. Pulse in short 2-seconds bursts till the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas, roughly, about 3-4 times. It doesn't have to look even all over, be careful not to overmix the crumbs. Pour out the mixture into a large cold bowl.
Drizzle about 1/4 cup of the ice cold water over the butter and flour mixture. Gather the dough together quickly with your fingers. Add in small amounts of water gradually till dough comes together. (I used just about 1/2 cup of water, how much depends on your environment and humidity.) Gather the dough into one ball and knead gently just to incorporate. Divide the dough in half (or about 60:40 ratio if you are using an 11-inch pie dish like me), and place each ball on a piece of cling wrap. Wrap each dough into a disk and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before using. (I chilled mine for 2 1/2 hours.)
Prepare the pie: On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round (if using an 11-inch pie dish, roll out the larger disk into a 14-inch round). Dust the rolled out dough with some flour and fold it very loosely into quarters. Quickly transfer the dough into the pie dish, centering it, then unfold and press it gently onto the dish. Dust of excess flour with a dry pastry brush. Fold edge of dough over and under, chill pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve the parchment paper aside.
While the pie shell is chilling, place blueberries in a large bowl and with your hands, mush up about 1/2 cup of berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you go along. Add in the sugar, flour, lemon zest and juice; stir with a spatula to combine. Set aside. Retrieve the second dough ball from the fridge and roll it out to an inch larger than the pie dish on the same parchment used earlier, floured lightly. With a pastry cutter, cut the dough into 1-inch wide strips. Retrieve the pie shell from the fridge when the time is up and spoon the berries mixture into it. Arrange the strips of dough top in a lattice pattern and crimp accordingly.
Bake the pie: In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and milk. Brush lattice surface and pie border with egg wash. Refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F/200°C, with rack placed at the lower third. Line a baking sheet large enough to hold the pie dish with parchment. Place the chilled pie on the baking sheet and bake until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F/180°C. Continue baking until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbling in the center, about 40 to 50 minutes more. (Mine was done at 45 minutes, be sure to check for the bubbling juices.)
Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool slightly. I like to eat it still warm, with a cold scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream on the side. Pie is best savored the day it is baked, but can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with foil or cling wrap, for up to 2 days.
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