September 10, 2010

Blueberry Pie

Mmm...blueberry pie. We no longer live across from the blueberry patch, but that's when my picking habit began. We still go every year to pick berries. 

Each year I find myself noting my son's growth through the lens of his company blueberry picking. There was the year I wore him in the Ergo, side carry, and my back ached picking, and I was pretty inefficient, feeding him a berry when he demanded one, which was about every other berry I picked. There were the years he got hot and bored and picked like Little Sal-- plink, plank, plunk in his bucket and eating them all up every time he had collected a handful, never covering the bottom. The last few years he's been a genuine help. This year, at age 11, was the first year his picking quantity surpassed mine. In total he and his sister and I picked 10+ pounds and we may very well be back, as the season lasts a good month and you can tell from the photos that there are still many to come. 

I've made many different things with blueberries over the years. One of my simplest joys is a bowl of Cheerios with many berries on top for breakfast. Of course, there's pancakes and muffins. There's also ice cream and sorbet and this fancy ice cream terrine. But blueberry pie is a definite favorite, and possibly the best dessert ever. It's just enough effort that we usually make it exactly once each year-- the day or day after blueberry picking-- and savor it after dinner on the deck. One note: while flour works well to thicken many fruit pies, I find tapioca works great to absorb all the juice created in a blueberry pie and helps give it a great consistency. The pie sometimes still seems a bit soupy the day you make it when you first cut it, but it tastes great nonetheless and any leftovers always firm up well by the next day. 

Blueberry Pie

Always, this pie pastry 

about 6 C blueberries 
1/4 C + 2 T tapioca 
1 C sugar, heaping 
generous sprinkling of cinnamon 

To Finish:
egg-white wash (1 egg white and ~ 1 t water, mixed together) 
crystallized sugar 

After making pie pastry and chilling it, mix filling together. 

Remove one of two chilled rounds of pie pastry from the fridge. Roll on a floured surface from the center outward till it's larger than pie plate. Fold in half, then in half again. Lift and place in pie plate then unfold. Press down a bit. Trim edges if desired so they don't hang down more than about an inch (I don't trim any more as we are happy to have a little extra crust in spots). Make a few little cuts in the bottom of the crust. Add filling. 

Then, either: roll out second crust and place on top of pie in the same way. Trim the edges so the top crust is a little longer than the bottom crust. Fold the top crust so it's wrapped around and tucked under the bottom crust. Pinch or seal all the way around. OR roll out second crust in the same way as the first. With a lattice cutter or a knife, cut long strips of it. Then weave those onto the top of the pie. Fold the bottom crust up over all the ends to create a neat edge. (Lattice process explained more fully in this pie recipe.)

Brush whole top crust with the egg-white wash, then sprinkle liberally with crystallized sugar. Make 5 or 6 cuts with a sharp knife toward the top center of the pie (if you have a full crust) for steam to escape. 

Bake at 350 for about 1 hour or until golden, turning partway through the baking time. Let cool up to several hours but it is by far the best when eaten the day it's made.

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