Lemon-flecked Blueberry Pie

Is there a more fitting dessert on the Fourth of July than a blueberry pie?  If you find something, please tell because I can’t seem to find another thing I would rather bake when the holiday comes around.  Blueberries are just coming into season at the beginning of July, so the anticipation of the first blueberry pie of the season is high.  And so, on a 90+ degree day, I found myself cranking up the oven to 400 degrees, all in the name of blueberry pie. A little pie-obsessed? It’s hard to tell.

With the fan on high and the windows wide open with hopes of a cool breeze, I set forth on making the perfect blueberry pie.  I started with my trusty go-to pie crust recipe, with a sprinkling of lemon zest and ground ginger in between flakes of near-frozen butter.  The recipe for the blueberry filling came from Martha Stewart; however, I can’t seem to make anything without a few additions.  A little more lemon zest and a swirl of maple syrup seemed to be appropriate partners for the freshly picked berries.  20 minutes later, the pie was assembled and ready for the oven.

As the scent of the pie began to waft throughout the house, I knew the dessert was going to be a winner.  The challenge, as it turned out, was leaving the pie undisturbed (and uneaten) until the dinner party later that night.

The pie was a hit and, I must say, a perfect fit for the day.  However, I don’t know if I can (or should) wait until next year to crank up the oven for this pie one more time, and I don’t think you should wait either.

Lemon-Flecked Blueberry Pie
(Filling adapted from The Martha Stewart Baking Handbook)
 
Pie Crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, diced
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup ice water
Pie Filling:
8 cups fresh blueberries, washed and dried
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 egg yolk
dash of water
For the pie crust:  Put the butter on a small plate and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Cut in the semi-frozen butter until the butter chunks are about the size of peas (I flatten any big chunks of butter with my fingers).  Pour 1/4 cup of ice water over the mixture and mix, adding additional water if necessary.*  Form the dough into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour
For the pie filling: Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure to mash up some of the berries in the process.  Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator.  Sprinkle flour on the countertop and the rolling pin.  Roll dough into an 11 inch circle, picking the dough up and rotating it 45 degrees after each stroke to prevent sticking.  Place the circle of dough into a pie pan and trim the overhang to meet the sides of the pan.  Pile the filling into the lined pie pan.  Roll out the remaining disk of dough.  Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of pie dough to use as a decorative border and upper crust (roll out the scraps if necessary).  Make an eggwash with the yolk and the water and brush on top of the pie crust.  Sprinkle the pie with sugar and place in the oven.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Turn down the oven to 350 degrees and bake until the filling is bubbling, approximately 35-45 minutes more.  Let the pie cool before slicing.
Enjoy.
 
*Hint: The pie dough has enough water when, after squeezing some dough in your hand, the ball of dough stays together.    If it does not, add more water by the tablespoon until it holds together.
Advertisements

Apple-Cranberry Pie

There are cake people and there are pie people.  Although I treat myself to a cupcake now and then, I am, when forced to choose, a pie person.  After all, how can you deny a plateful of just-from-the-oven apple pie topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream?

A good friend came over to bake yesterday, and I was thrilled when he revealed his intentions to make an apple-cranberry pie.  There’s something about the way those bouncy and bright little cranberries make the filling pop.  And the crust, OH THE CRUST, it’s perfectly buttery, with a hint of lemon and a little crunch.  Serve up a slice warm from the oven with a big scoop of ice cream, and you’ll never find it difficult to choose between pie and cake again.

 

Apple-Cranberry Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie
Pie Crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, diced
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup ice water
Pie Filling:
3 pink lady apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 cup cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water (optional)
turbinado sugar (optional)
For the pie crust:  Put the butter on a small plate and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Cut in the semi-frozen butter until the butter chunks are about the size of peas (I flatten any big chunks of butter with my fingers).  Pour 1/4 cup of ice water over the mixture and mix, adding additional water if necessary.*  Form the dough into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
For the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator.  Sprinkle flour on the countertop and the rolling pin.  Roll dough into an 11 inch circle, picking the dough up and rotating it 45 degrees after each stroke to prevent sticking.  Place the circle of dough into a pie pan and trim the overhang within 1 inch of the pan.  Pile the filling into the lined pie pan.  Roll out the remaining disk of dough and place over filling.  Trim edges to match bottom layer of dough.  Fold the edges under and crimp.  If desired, brush the egg wash on the top crust and sprinkle with sugar.  Cut slits in the top of the pie and place in the oven.  Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until the filling is bubbling.
Enjoy.
*Hint: The pie dough has enough water when, after squeezing some dough in your hand, the ball of dough stays together.    If it does not, add more water by the tablespoon until it holds together.

Silky Pumpkin Pie

You just can’t celebrate Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.  And, if you have yet to find a recipe for this year’s festivities, I strongly recommend you to choose this one.

I made this pie for an early Thanksgiving celebration with a few friends, and let’s just say that it didn’t last long!  The filling is exceptionally creamy and perfectly spiced.  Add in a buttery homemade pie crust with a generous amount of ginger, and you just may be surprised by how delicious pumpkin pie can actually be.

Silky Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Crust
If you are short on time, you can opt for a store-bought pie crust.  However, I strongly recommend that you attempt to make your own.  You’ll be amazed by the taste and textural difference. Makes one 9-inch pie.
Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
10 tablespoons cold butter, diced and frozen for 15 minutes
1/4 cup ice water
Filling (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated):
2 cups half & half
3 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 15-oz can pumpkin purée
1 15-oz can sweet potato purée
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
To Make Pie Crust:  In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and ground ginger.  Cut in the cold butter until the majority of butter pieces are about the size of peas.  Add the ice water and mix until the dough can be formed into a compact disk.  (If the mixture is still dry, add ice water by the tablespoon, until the mixture comes together.  If you are new to homemade pie dough, a slightly wetter dough will be easier for you to roll out.)  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Can be made several days ahead.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Generously flour your workspace.  Roll the pie crust dough into a 12-inch circle.  Roll the dough around the rolling pin and set in the pie plate.  Gently push the dough to conform to the plate, without stretching.  Tuck the edges of the dough under and crimp.  Freeze for 15-25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the freezer.  Line the crust with a piece of foil and fill with pie weights (I use dried beans).  Bake the crust for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and pie weights.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
To Make Filling:  While the crust is baking, whisk the half & half, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla together in a large bowl.  Set aside.  In a large saucepan, mix together the pumpkin puree, sweet potato puree, brown sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Heat the mixture over medium heat until it begins to “sputter”, which should take less than 10 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium-low, and continue to cook until the mixture is very thick, and semi-shiny, which will take another 15 minutes.
Add the pumpkin mixture to the cream mixture and whisk well.  Using a fine-mesh strainer and a rubber spatula, strain the warm filling into a bowl.  Mix the filling again, and add to the pre-baked pie crust.  Return the pie to the oven, and reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Bake until the center of the pie registers 170 degrees, about 35-45 minutes.  Cool the pie on a wire rack for at least 1 1/2 hours.
Enjoy.