Thursday, July 2, 2009

Something Blue

For this Fourth of July, I am sharing with you one of my most precious secrets. Okay, two. In return, I hope you will remember to enter both Blushing Giveaway's this month: Old Bay and Garden & Gun Magazine. Both are fabulous and great (free) additions to any kitchen or read list.

The first secret is that I spent four months of my life professionally pursuing the perfect pie - three of those on the crust alone - under the tutelage of a woman who spent her entire adult life in the same study. These are some of my discoveries:

1. While nutritionists prefer we not do so, partially hydrogenated fats do contribute to making a perfect crust.
2. If you are going to make your own crust, Julia Child's recipe is the best, hands down.
3. Pillsbury also makes a nice crust.

Those are not secrets. But this is: Every fruit pie needs a method of stabilization for the fruit. In order to prevent it from becoming to runny, raising the crust and then falling away from it, or leaving water in the bottom of the crust, it needs to have a sponge-like ingredient. Some use flour, which works well if you can test the fruit to see how much you will need. Others use tapioca, which has a texture some do not care for. Others - and I cringe - use cornstarch. My secret: Almond meal and a little pastry flour.

I find almond meal is an effective sponge and does not add a noticeable textural issue to a pie. I use a pastry flour because the lighter the flour, the less heaviness, as I have already had to surrender a bit to the almond meal. Some of that almond flavor will be there, but it is no more noticeable than using vanilla extract in any other baked good.

Worth a try once, especially if you have always found fruit pies too mushy, as I did once.

Blushing's Blueberry Pie
Serves 8

1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca*
*or almond meal depending on your textural preference
2 tablespoons light white flour (White Lily or pastry)
6 cups fresh blueberries or 3 (10-ounce) packages frozen (not thawed)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pastry dough for a double-crust pie
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Put a large baking sheet on oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Whisk together sugar, almond meal, and flour and toss with blueberries and lemon juice in a large bowl of ziplock bag (my choice).

Roll out larger piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into 9 1/2" deep pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out dough for top crust.

Roll out remaining dough on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round. Cut out 5 or 6 small holes with small decorative cookie cutters or use a small knife to slash steam vents toward center. Or, even better, get out your Grandma's pie bird to place in the pie (how I wish I had one!)

Spoon filling with any accumulated juices into shell, dot with butter, and cover with top crust. Trim top crust with kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang of top crust under bottom pastry and press against rim of pie plate to reinforce edge, then crimp decoratively and brush with egg wash.

Bake pie on hot baking sheet in oven 30 minutes, then cover edge with foil to prevent overbrowning. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes more.

Cool pie completely on a rack, about 3 hours.

1 comment:

the Preppy Princess said...

Oh, looks more-than-delicious! The stabilization ingredient is a secret you could charge for Miss Hostess, that is *amazing*! Almond meal!

And for good or bad, we're with you on the fat, the substitutes simply don't do the trick.

Really, an excellent post, thank you for all the info!