This little cutie pie was all about new experiences: it was the first time baking a pie in my 7-inch pie plate, the crust included a new shortening rather than butter, and it was my first time making blueberry filling.
I don’t know that I’ve ever actually had blueberry pie before, maybe once years ago. But a recent sale on in-season blueberries and a desire to do more seasonal baking prompted me to pick up a few containers. Unable to bake with them right away, I froze them until I was ready to bake this pie. I was unsure how the frozen blueberries would work, and read conflicting advice about thawing, using them frozen, or partially thawing them. Splitting the difference, I placed the frozen blueberries in the refrigerator for a few hours, bringing them to a partially-thawed state.
When making my crusts for quiche and vegetable pot pie, I’ve been enjoying the butter flavor in the dough but missing the flakiness. Since I use home-milled whole wheat flour, that may interfere with the flakiness as well. I had hoped to avoid Crisco vegetable shortening because I’m not really sure whether the hydrogenated fats are OK for our bodies. Perhaps it’s splitting hairs — we’re talking about pie after all — but when I can make an adjustment towards healthier ingredients for treats I like to. I located this Spectrum All Vegetable Shortening at my Sprouts (labeled as non-hydrogenated and containing no trans fats) and a pie crust recipe to try.
For me, pie crust is more about the texture than the flavor, and the filling is the primary vehicle for flavor. I’m thrilled with how the shortening worked with my soft white wheat flour — the texture was flakey and the flavor was neutral. The one thing I’d change next time would be to cut the shortening into smaller pieces.
The blueberry filling was milder than I would have liked. I think a bit of lemon juice would help. I also had cut back on the sugar a bit, but that was a mistake because it wasn’t quite sweet enough. There was a bit of liquid sitting in the bottom of the pie after it cooled, and I’m wondering if I ought to pick up some tapioca for thickener instead of using cornstarch. Next time I’d also leave the pie in the oven a bit longer, covering the edges with foil so they don’t burn while the bottom bakes up firmer.
7-inch Blueberry Pie
Adapted from piechef.com and allrecipes.com.
Makes one 7-inch double-crust pie. Unless tart blueberries are used, this makes a mellow-tasting pie. For more complexity, consider adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to the filling.
- 96 grams shortening (I used Spectrum All Vegetable Shortening), cut into small chunks and chilled
- 180 grams finely-milled soft white wheat flour, chilled
- dash of salt
- 3-4 tablespoons ice water
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries, partially thawed
- ½ tablespoon butter
- Cream or half-and-half for brushing onto crust
- Coarse sugar for sprinkling on crust (demerara sugar works well)
- For the crust: combine the flour and salt, then cut in the chilled shortening until it’s pea-sized and smaller. Add 3 tablespoons of the ice water and lightly mix together, adding a bit more water if needed. Pat the dough into two disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for a few hours. This is a good time to put the frozen blueberries into the refrigerator as well, if using frozen.
- For the filling: once the dough is ready to roll out, preheat the oven to 425° F with a rack in the lower third, and prep the filling. Rinse and gently dry the blueberries, then place in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the blueberries and toss gently. Set aside.
- Roll out one of the dough disks and place in 7-inch pie plate. Pour in the blueberry filling and top with the butter, broken into small bits. Roll out the second dough disk and cut 8 strips. Assemble the strips in a lattice top on the pie. Brush a bit of water under the ends of the strips and press them together with the bottom crust. Trim edges and shape into a fluted edge.
- Brush cream or half-and-half lightly onto the top crust and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
- Place the pie in the lower third of the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, watching the crust for over-browning. If needed, form foil around the edge.
- When finished, remove from oven and cool for a few hours before serving.