I’ve tasted some very-so-so blueberry pies. The fillings were a snooze, too sweet and a little mushy or sometimes too loose. Yes, some are gummy, others runny.
My favorite recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, the periodical for nitpick-y cooks that want to know every culinary detail imaginable.
I love this jammy blueberry filling, and it is their attention to detail that makes the flavor and consistency so delicious. A grated Granny Smith apple is added to the cooked portion of the filling, offering the right amount of pectin to thicken the mixture along with a small amount of instant tapioca. The consistency is perfect.
But, here’s my pie confession. I don’t want to work too hard, so I will make a pie-making compromise. I’ll use store-bought refrigerated crusts, the type that is rolled into 9-inch disks. I’ll hide the red box deep in my recycle bin and hold my head high.
You are welcome to make your favorite from-scratch dough if you prefer.
Either way, don’t forget the ice cream.
The Best Blueberry Pie
Yield: one 9-inch pie, 6 to 8 servings
1 box (14.1 ounces) refrigerated pie crusts (two 9-inch rounds), such as Pillsbury Pie Crusts, well chilled
6 cups fresh blueberries
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, grated on large holes of box grater
2 teaspoons grated zest (colored portion of peel) and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons instant tapioca, ground, see cook’s notes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Optional for serving: ice cream or whipped cream
Cook’s notes: Grind the tapioca to a powder in a spice grinder. As for the crust, in my kitchen, it is generally pretty cool so working fast with chilled store-bought dough usually doesn’t require dusting the work surface with flour when rolling it out. If your kitchen is warm or the dough isn’t thoroughly chilled, lightly dust work surface and rolling pin with all-purpose flour before rolling it out.
- On a cool, clean, dry work surface roll out one round of refrigerated crust to a 11 1/2-inch circle. Ease it into a 9-inch pie pan, glass (Pyrex) preferred, gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into pie plate bottom with the other hand. Put in refrigerator.
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Put rimmed baking sheet on rack. Preheat to 400 degrees. Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using a potato masher, mash berries several times to release juices, leaving more than half of the berries unmashed. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of the berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly off heat.
- Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry over sink. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups of raw berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, ground tapioca and salt; toss to combine. Transfer to dough-lined pie pan and scatter butter pieces over filling.
- Roll out second round crust to an 11-inch circle. Lift dough to make sure it isn’t sticking and replace it onto work surface. Using a 1 1/4-inch glass, spice jar lid, or biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough. Cut another 6 rounds from dough, 1 1/2 inches from center hole. Lift dough and place on top of filling. Fold dough around the edge under itself and pinch to make a ridge that is flush with the outer rim. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger. Or press with the tings of a fork. Brush top and edges of pie with egg wash, coating it very lightly.
- Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. If edge of crust is nicely browned, cover edge with a pie ring (a ring-like device that covers the edge of the crust – either metal or silicone) or use small pieces of aluminum foil to cover edge of crust. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 30 to 40 minutes, or until crust is deep golden brown and juices bubble. Transfer to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve. Accompany with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.
Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine