This is undoubtedly the MOST beautiful pie that I have ever created. And I did it in the midst of an unnecessarily sticky heat wave. I am my own hero right now.
Everything about this pie is pretty much perfect. The flaky crust cradling layers of citrus-scented blueberries. The crunch of the raw sugar along the lattice. The pantone-worthy blue and purple juices that gather in the bottom of the dish. Also, you can stick a whole slice of this in the blender with ice cream to make a pie milkshake, which is maybe the second best way to eat pie after the regular way (unless your jaw is wired shut, in which case it’s definitely the best case scenario).
You might be surprised to see vodka as one of the ingredients in this pie crust. Or you might not be, in which case, Happy Saturday! If you count yourself in the former camp though, let me explain. Pie crust needs moisture to help it come together, but of course too much moisture can cause toughness (because science). Vodka supposedly helps with this because while it does moisten the dough adequately, it also quickly dissipates when cooked. I’ve seen this trick before and while I agree with the logic behind it, a more traditional crust (when handled properly) can accomplish this goal without the addition of alcohol. But, as with certain people, some things are evidently just better when alcohol is involved. If you already have a pie dough recipe that you really like, you could very likely substitute it in this recipe without too much damage being done, I suspect. I found this to be a perfectly respectable pie crust, albeit a little wet to work with which made me concerned for those of you who are not comfortable bakers. Feel free to use the slightly easier pie crust recipe that I refer to in Sweet Cherry Pie if you don’t feel like braving this one or like going out and buying vodka (though who doesn’t have a bottle lolling around in their freezer; c’mon, be an adult). Alternatively, if this whole conversation of crust has only served to terrify you, go back to the root post and cut your teeth on the galette dough instead.
BA’s Best: Blueberry Pie
Taken directly from BA’s Best arsenal, with the most minor of tweaks here and there
Makes 1 double-crust pie (serves roughly 8-10 people)
3 ½ cup all-purpose flour (measured correctly) + more for dusting
2 tbsp white sugar
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and chilled
¼ cup chilled vodka
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Filling and Assembly:
3 lb (4 pints) fresh blueberries
5 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup raw sugar (white sugar is a fine substitute) + more for sprinkling
1 large egg
Start by making the crust. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Toss the cold butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips to evenly coat each cube. Working quickly and aggressively, rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips and palms to smash the butter and almost crumble it in. This will create some pieces that are flat and thin and others that are pea-sized and irregular. It helps to have very cold, dry hands when you do this.
Stir the vodka, lemon juice, and ¼ cup ice water together in a small bowl. Drizzle the liquids over the buttery flour, then mix it with a fork until shaggy pieces form. I found that this dough came out rather wet, so it could help to stir the liquids in more gradually and stop just before the dough becomes sticky. Even if the dough does come out on the wetter side though, it rolls and bakes easily. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Working with one half, press it together into a single mass, incorporating any dry bits, then pat down to make a ¾-inch thick block. Using a bench scraper or knife, divide the block into 4 pieces. Stack these pieces on top of one another and press down to combine, gently flattening the dough into one mass again. Form the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic. Repeat with second half of dough. Chill at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
Right before rolling out the chilled dough, make the pie filling. Toss the blueberries, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and ¾ cup raw sugar in a large bowl. Let the berries sit for 30 minutes to soften and get juicy.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit for 5 minutes to soften up slightly. Roll one of the dough disks out on a floured work surface to a 16-inch diameter (start with the larger disk if you divided them slightly unevenly). When rolling pie crust, ensure that you’re constantly turning the dough (to avoid parts of it sticking or getting rolled thinner than other areas) and lightly dusting any sticky spots with flour. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and chill it while you make the top crust. Roll out the other dough disk and decide how you’d like to style your top crust. I did a funky lattice thing that I found here and attempted to copy. Otherwise you could do a regular lattice crust by cutting out 1-inch thick strips from the rolled dough and later lacing them as shown here.
Position a rack in centre of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place it in the oven. Carefully transfer the whole chilled dough round (the first one you rolled) to a deep pie dish by folding it loosely into quarters and laying the point in the centre of the dish before unfolding. Lift up the edges and allow the dough to slump down into the dish. Gently press dough into edges of dish, if needed. Trim, leaving about a ½-inch overhang. Gently scrape in berry filling. Smooth the top of the filling with a knife.
Beat the egg with 1 tsp. water in a small bowl. Lattice the top crust in whatever fashion you’ve decided on using the strips from the second round of dough. Working around the edge of the pie plate, fold any loose ends under the bottom round, pinching each gently to seal. Crimp the edges decoratively, if desired. I used a small cookie cutter to cut small circles from the dough scraps, which I then overlapped around the edge of the crust. Brush the edges of the crust and lattice lightly with the egg wash, then sprinkle with raw sugar.
Transfer the pie to the freezer and chill for 10 minutes. Transfer the chilled pie to the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake for 60 minutes, covering the edges and lattice with foil after about 30 minutes (or before the crust gets overly brown). Rotate the pie dish by a quarter turn every 10 minutes or so to avoid hot spots and uneven baking. Bake the pie for another 15-30 minutes (for a total baking time of 80-95 minutes), at which point the juices should be bubbling fast and the crust should be deeply golden-brown. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let it cool at least 5 hours before serving. Take oh so many pictures of your handiwork.
To re-heat day-old pie, transfer the pie (or individual slices) to a low oven and warm for 10-15 minutes.