When you need a late night pastry fix. not the fastest thing in the world, but worth it. The pie crust recipe here will. make 4 of what is pictured above. Those are small ramekin that the local Metropolitan market sells ready to cook Mac and Cheese in. about 4″ across and not quite 1-1/2″ deep. Using a ramekin rather thbluean a pie pan will have an effect on the cooking time. Read the notes below.
- 1-1/4 cup flour (all purpose or pastry or even gluten free mixture, the less gluten the better)
- 1/2 cup cold butter, diced
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
- ~3 tbsp ice water
This are a pretty good ratio set for pie crust. There are of course, infinite opinions on what constitutes proper crust and there are many varieties. This is pretty much a simple shortbread style crust. I’m not a huge fan of crusts done with a cuisinart or similar food processor, as I tend to feel that the texture is more sandy than ‘flaky’, but if you’re in a hurry or just can’t be bothered, this is pretty reliable.
Basic step. throw everything except the water into a food processor with the cutting blade. Pulse until everything is ground up pretty finely. Coarse sand, or better yet aquarium gravel. It is much easier to end up with a fairly coarse texture if you start out with the butter already cubed down to 1/4″ or 1/2″ size. Once everything is more or less evenly textured, sprinkle the 3 spoonfuls of ice water onto the mixture and pulse until it comes together. But only just!
Dump the dough out on to a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, gather together into a disk about 3/4″ thick and wrap tightly. Immediately put it in the fridge, for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer if you’ve got time.
Turn the oven on to 375º or so.
Baking pie crust is it’s own separate art. A short list of things that can have an effect on baking time includes: the material of the pie pan, the chosen oven shelf, the temperature, the size of the edges… I encourage experimentation.)
Roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thick or so and line whatever baking dish you like with them. I tend to prefer blueberry pies topless, but you do you… Also, piecrust is basically mostly butter already. you shouldn’t need to butter the pan.
- 1-2 cups Blueberries. (depends on variety, see below)
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- sugar to taste
- lemon juice to taste
- other spices to taste (I used cinnamon and nutmeg, just a shake or two of each)
The cornstarch is really the only think here that serves a purpose (other than the berries.) it’s there to thicken the juice that comes spilling out of the berries as they cook. The sugar turns out to be somewhat immaterial. Experiments done due to a diabetic relative has shown that sugar is an amenity. A nice amenity, and I appreciate it’s presence, but you can get away with a lot less than is common. Even none, though you may want to add a bit more cornstarch to soak up and thicken more juice.
Special note regarding blueberries. I grew up in the northeast and more than once spent a summer at a house that had an enormous blueberry patch right out front. As a result, I have unshakeable opinions about the relative merits of the readily available western blueberry compared to the authentic Maine Blueberry. That opinion is, if it’s not a Maine blueberry, it will be disappointing. The Maine wild blueberry is a delightful concentration of sweet, tart and tang. and pleasantly smacks you in the face. especially in the context of a blueberry muffin. (for which I was minor league famous for at one point along the Maine coast.) With the relatively tiny, but very flavorful, Maine blueberry, you can add them to baked goods without worrying too much about the whole thing disintegrating due to the lack of any structure in a mass of berry.
The gargantuan western (and much inferior except in size) blueberry is overly sweet, barely tart and not actually that flavorful. 2 or 3 of them can make a pancake fall to bits because there ends up being too much berry for a given amount of batter.
But, sometimes they are just unavoidable. do what you must…
Toss the berries in the lemon juice, then add the dry ingredients and toss/dredge until the berries are coated. Pour the berries into the dish, pour any unstuck cornstarch/sugar on top. If you have any leftover pie crust dough, feel free to add to the top as garnish. I just added the strips shown in the picture for some extra crunchy bits. 🙂
Notes on Baking
Ordinarily, you would bake a pie for as long as it takes to cook the filling through and make sure it got to a temperature that meant any chemical reactions you are hoping for have occurred. That is, sugar needs to melt (or at least dissolve,) the cornstarch needs to thicken, etc. In this particular case, the two confounding factors were that a) I was baking in a thick ceramic ramekin rather than a thin metal pie plate. and b) I started with frozen blueberries. The frozen blueberries meant it was going to have to bake a long time before the middle of the filling was going to be hot enough, but happily the thick ceramic ramekins (and lack of edge crust) meant that it was going to be a long time before the crust started to brown, much less burn. If you were doing this in a normal thin pie pan, it would likely be done in about 20-25 minutes. as it was, it took these nearly 40 minutes. I recommend simply cooking until a thermometer in the middle registers something north of 170º or so or the crust around the edge has not quite gone too far. At the very least, you need to get everything hot enough for the cornstarch to gel, and if you don’t have a thermometer, just make sure the berry juice is bubbling pretty consistently, that will indicate that it has gotten hot enough.
What you are aiming for is to get the berries into a state you like and hoping the crust takes the same amount of time. If, like me, you prefer the berries to cook down somewhat, and you’re cooking in a metal pie tin, you may have to wrap the edge crust in foil to prevent it from burning too soon. As pictured, they came out of the oven after about 40-45 minutes as you see them.
Last important note. and this goes for all pie type things that rely on cooked starches and gelatins to hold themselves together. LET THE PIE COOL! If you don’t, you’ll end up with a puddle of juice. By all means, heat it up again to serve, but let it get to room temperature before you try to cut into it.
I had mine with some vanilla ice cream. It was exactly what I wanted.