Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey, is one of my favorite children’s books. Out in the woods with her mother to collect berries for canning, Sal eats more berries than she is able to bring home. I have found myself like Sal at the end of picking. On more than one occasion, I have come home with a full belly and an empty bucket. With their sun-drenched sweetness, New England blueberries are the quintessential summer treat. But patience has its virtues, especially when it means collecting enough berries to create this Deep Dish Blueberry Pie. Wrapped in a buttery crust, the berries are tossed with a bit of crystallized ginger before baking. The rich, flakey crust is a perfect complement to the soft, sweet berries. Served warm or cold, with or without ice cream, this pie is what summer is all about.
I hope you are having a grand summer. All is glorious here in New Hampshire!
I look forward to seeing you out picking berries, and in my kitchen gathering flavors, soon.
DEEP DISH BLUEBERRY PIE
Yield: 1 Large Pie, About 10 Servings
- For the crusts:
- 2 & ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into large chunks
- 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, preferably organic, chilled and cut into large chunks*
- 1 tablespoon chilled vodka, white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cold water, plus more as needed
For the filling:
- 8 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and stems removed**
- 1 cup crystallized ginger or candied pineapple, chopped finely
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- For serving:
- 1 quart vanilla ice cream, (optional)
- 1 ten-inch deep dish pie plate
- 1 cookie sheet
- rolling-pin, pastry brush, clean work surface or cutting board to roll out dough
1. Prepare the pie dough, by placing the flour, salt and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Toss together gently. Add the chilled butter and vegetable shortening. Using two butter knives or a pastry cutter, cut the chilled butter and shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Drizzle in the vodka, vinegar or lemon juice, then the water, a bit at a time. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, toss the dough together. Once it comes together, form into 2 balls, then flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap tightly with Saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours up to 24 hours.
2. Prepare the filling by, placing the berries, crystallized ginger or pineapple, granulated sugar and all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Toss together gently. Keep chilled in the refrigerator while you roll out the pie dough.
3. To roll out the pie dough and assemble pie: Sprinkle a bit of flour on a clean work surface or cutting board large enough to hold the rolled out dough. Remove one disk of prepared pie dough from the refrigerator. Using a rolling-pin, roll it out to about a 12-inch round shape, taking care to work quickly so as not to allow the butter to melt while you work. Transfer the prepared dough to a pie plate by lightly folding it into quarters. Place the folder corner in the center of the pie plate, then open up the folded dough, and gently pat it into the plate, letting a bit hang over the edges. Pour the egg white on the bottom, over the prepared dough, and spread it all along the bottom crust. Pour the prepared berries into the shell. Roll out the second disk of dough in the same way you did the first, folding it and centering it over the top. Crimp the edges, trimming any excess dough away. Chill for at least one hour, up to 24 hours, in the refrigerator, before baking.***
4. When you are ready to bake the pie: Place a cookie sheet on a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a fork or sharp knife, cut or prick the top dough in several places to allow steam to escape during the baking process. Sprinkle the prepared pie with a one teaspoon granulated sugar. Place it on top of the cookie sheet in the preheated oven. Bake until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling, about 45 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature, with or without ice cream.
* Organic vegetable shortening packaged in sticks in a bit easier to work with than shortening scooped from a tin. Including a bit of shortening in the crust will make for a flakey crust without compromising flavor. If you prefer a more buttery crust, substitute butter for the vegetable shortening.
** You can make this pie with any fresh berry or combination of berries. Just be sure to remove stems and cut up strawberries if using.
***Spreading a bit of egg white on the bottom of the pie shell will keep the natural liquids in the fruit from seeping through and creating a wet lower crust.
****Chilling the entire pie before you bake it will help create a flakey crust during the baking process. You want to place the pie on a cookie sheet as the juices created during the baking process will likely spill over. This will save your oven from a difficult-to-clean mess.