I have a lot to share and what feels like little brain cells with which to share it! I had some medical testing today which required general anaesthesia, so I may not be all here. But I cannot wait any longer to share this pie, and more importantly, this pie crust with you. Ad therefore the awesome cookbook that it came from as well.
Please be patient over the next few weeks. It currently looks like I am having a hysterectomy next Monday, so although I have a backlog of dishes and pictures, I may not be posting quite as regularly.
This pie starts with a kind of funny story. I had been sent Teeny Lamothe’s Teeny’s Tour of Pie: A Cookbook by the publisher for reviewing. I instantly fell in love with the book and its quirky writing. Lamothe,devoted to pie baking, had passed on pastry school and instead apprenticed with master pie bakers all throughout the country. Her writing and pie descriptions are similarly unconventional, which I greatly enjoyed. But here’s the catch: I am totally intimidated by pie making (crust rolling). I was being optimistically adventurous when I told the publisher to send me the book, but day after day passed, with it in my “Books to Review” pile.
Enter Sammy. We had decided we were baking together, and I told her it was her pick. When she picked up the book I vetoed it… but then thought about how silly that was. So with Sammy’s prodding and encouragement, we decided to bake a pie! Of all the sweets on this site, I can honestly say this is the most excited and proud I have been of a dessert. Maybe it is because my mom is basically a master pie baker herself? I don’t know, whatever the reason, pies intimidate me and the fact that this one came together so nicely was thrilling.
Some comments on the crust–and my only criticism of the book: to me, shortening is a travesty. I was shocked that Lamothe baked her way through the country and never encountered lard in pies. She does address it, saying she has no experience with it, but to me part of learning to bake crust should include lard–or maybe schmaltz in some pork-eschewing traditions. And when she does discuss it, she describes it as tasteless and odorless, whereas to me that means overly processed (leaf lard is described that way and is highly prized but I have never seen that for sale anywhere and I prefer the savory contrast of unprocessed lard). In my experience the very best lard is freshly rendered and smells slightly of roasted pork. That slightly savory quality lends itself beautifully to pie crust. So my pie crust follows her recipe exactly, except where she called for shortening I used lard and highly recommend you do the same if pork is allowed in your diet. And I recommend you find your lard at a traditional butcher or farmers’ market.
Speaking of the crust, I also highly recommend you let your kids (if you have any) roll out the extra and cut it into fun shapes. I did not take any pictures, but we actually enjoyed these cut-out “cookies” as much as the pie! We brushed them with beaten egg white and sprinkled them each with one of three different combinations: cinnamon sugar; rosemary and coarse sugar; coarse cocoa sugar. All three were delicious. And so, so flaky. Alex especially remarked upon it repeatedly. And that, if you are wondering, is from the butter and vodka in the pie crust. Butter promotes flakiness, because of the water evaporating from the butter at high heat (think croissants), and vodka, because it evaporates more quickly than water at high temperatures, aids in this. It especially makes using all whole wheat flour possible in terms of flakiness, which is why Lamothe uses it.
- 4 cups fresh blueberries
- (5 cups if reserving some for topping)
- Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon (1 to 2 tablespoons)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 7 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 disk dough from Whole Wheat Crust (page 28)
- Up to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, for rolling out the crust
- 1 batch Oat-and-Nut Crumble (page 43), for topping (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the middle position.
- Place the 4 cups blueberries in a large bowl, add the lemon zest, and toss to combine. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon to combine.
- Add the lemon juice to the sugar mixture along with tablespoon water and whisk until smooth. (If the cornstarch and sugar still clump, you can add an additional tablespoon of water.) Pour over the blueberries and toss gently to coat. Set aside.
- Prepare the crust: Place the disk of dough on a floured work surface and with a floured rolling pin roll it into a rough-inch circle about ⅛ inch thick. Lay the crust into a 9-inch pie plate, gently press it in, and trim any excess dough from the edge with a paring knife, being sure to leave a ¾-inch overhang. Tuck the overhanging dough under itself and crimp. Place the lined pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Pour the blueberries into the unbaked pie crust. If you’re using the crumble, sprinkle it evenly over the filling.
- Bake until the filling is thickly bubbling and the crust and crumble are golden brown (cover the crimp with foil if it begins to brown too quickly), 45 to 55 minutes. If you’ve kept the pie naked, scatter the remaining cup of fresh berries over the hot filling and let it cool, then drizzle with the reserved lemon drizzle and serve. If you’ve topped the pie with crumble, let it cool before serving.
One note about the crumble topping: you can substitute any nut you prefer for the almonds, so Sammy and I decided on pecans.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar (dark is fine, too)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, oats, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt with a fork or your hands until combined.
- Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir with a rubber spatula or your hands until everything is thoroughly combined. The crumble mixture should clump easily when pressed together in your hand.
- Sprinkle three quarters of the crumble over the top of the fruit pie of your choice, a handful at a time to coat. Squeeze together the remaining crumble mixture to make some larger pieces, and gently scatter them over the top.
- Bake the pie as directed. The crumble should be golden brown—if it starts to brown faster than the crust, cover the pie with a sheet of aluminum foil, then uncover it during the last 10 minutes of baking to toast.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) cold vegetable shortening
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) cold vodka
- ½ cup (8 tablespoons) cold water, plus extra as needed
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar until everything is thoroughly combined. Add the butter and shortening and cut the mixture together using a pastry cutter until it forms small pea-size crumbs coated in flour.
- Pour the vodka evenly over the dry ingredients, a few tablespoons at a time, using a rubber spatula to press the dough together. Similarly, add the water, and continue to press the dough together to form a large ball. The dough should be fairly wet and sticky; if for some reason it seems particularly dry, add a little extra ice water a tablespoon at a time until everything comes together easily. (Be careful to work the dough as little as possible; otherwise the crust may be tough.)
- Divide the dough into two equal balls, press each into a disk, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 2 days before rolling out.
This book was sent to me for free in exchange for an unbiased review; all opinions are my own. Affiliate links were used in this post, but only to link to items I would be discussing and linking to anyway.