Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pie for Mama

I love my mom so much.
She is the most wonderful woman I know, the personification of everything I want to be. I never called her 'Mama' as a child, but as an adult it slips in from time to time as a term of adoration. For Mother's Day this year, I wanted to both serve and impress her with something sweet for her special tea on Sunday.

My dad orchestrated an amazing brunch with french toast, cheese eggs, and fresh fruit (and he doesn't cook), and I said I would bring the baked sweet for our regular afternoon repast. I made my choice early in the week but kept it a surprise. I tell Mom everything, so it's always tough to keep something a secret for any amount of time. There is a certain amount of anxiety too, because she is the best baker I know- to offer something blah is not acceptable to me. The family wouldn't mind, but I would.

My choice? This lovely blueberry pie. It was perfect- delicious and beautiful, worthy of gracing my family's tea table.

I was filled with pride, as if my own child had performed well for her. The pie crust was flaky and buttery, the filling luscious and sweet. I am finally starting to overcome my fear of pie-making; they really are not difficult to make well. Please don't buy your pie crust ready-made, try this first. Trust me! Bought crust will seem grotesque in comparison.

I used frozen blueberries for the pie and I'm so glad I did. The end result is the same, and fresh blueberries are too precious to do anything but eat out of hand. Please pay attention to the notes for having the dough ingredients very cold. This is the secret to a delicious crust- plus that last secret ingredient :-)

Blueberry Pie
adapted from Cook's Illustrated, makes one 9-inch pie

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
12 Tbs very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup very cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/4 cup very cold water
1/4 cup very cold vodka

30 oz frozen blueberries (about 3 cups)
1 tart apple, peeled and grated
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup baker's sugar
2 Tbs minute tapioca, ground with a mortar and pestle
pinch of table salt

1 large egg, beaten with a drop of water

For the dough:
Using a food processor, mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour, salt, and sugar with 2 quick pulses. Add the butter and shortening and process until uneven clumps form, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and add the remaining cup of flour. After 4 to 6 quick pulses to combine, empty the mixture into a big bowl. Drizzle the vodka and water on top and fold to combine with the spatula. The dough will be slightly tacky and incorporated. Divide the dough into 2 even balls and flatten into a disk shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes.

When you are ready, roll out one disk into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured work surface. With delicate fingers, fold the dough in half and then in quarters and quickly move to your pie dish. Unfold and gently mold the dough to the pie plate; there should be a bit of overhang on the sides. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes while making the blueberry filling.

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to the lowest position and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the filling:
Place half of the frozen blueberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Mash the berries with a potato masher to release the juices. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes until the mixture has reduced and thickened.

Meanwhile, place the grated apple in a clean towel and wring dry. Transfer the apple to a bowl and add the rest of the frozen berries, lemon zest and juice, sugar, tapioca and salt. Add the cooked berries and stir to combine. The hot mixture will thaw the frozen berries. Pour the mixture into the dough-lined pie plate and smooth the top.

To bake:
Roll out the second dough disk on a floured work surface, to about 11 inches or so. Using an apple corer or tiny cookie cutter, cut 5 small holes in the middle of the circle.

With a gentle hand, transfer the dough to the berry filling. Trim the overhang of dough and fold the dough under itself so that the fold is flush with the outer rim of the pie plate. Press the edges to seal. Brush the exposed dough with the egg wash.

Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake 30-40 minutes more. Monitor the pie; if it starts looking too brown, cover with aluminum foil so it stops browning but the filling continues to cook.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool, at least 2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.


This pie served nice slices to the seven of us at tea, leaving about three slices left to be enjoyed the following day. I'm so proud that I was able to give this delicious pie treat to my mom and my family. I'm excited to make this pie for my in-law family on the Fourth of July.


1 comment:

Erica said...

Sarah! It is SO beautiful! You did a great job. I love hearing about how much you love your mom- so sweet. Cheers to your dad too for putting together a lovely brunch