Making a pie from scratch feels important - like you are part of something that goes way back.
Back to moms and grandmothers with strong hands and pie-crust rolling biceps, flour-dusted frilly aprons and wispy curls of grey hair escaping their braids from the exertion of baking. Back to days of spending hours in a kitchen on a hot summer day, piling fresh-picked, sun-warmed berries into pastry shells, and then letting the hot pies cool in the breeze on the window ledge, attracting hopeful neighbourhood kids and dogs alike.
Making pie is wholesome.
Blueberry, in my opinion, is the queen of pies.
There is something about the way those juicy little berries taste when cooked to thick, bubbling oblivion inside a buttery crust. And the way the sticky purple juice runs all over the pie plate when the first slice is cut...
Totally unparalleled in pie-land.
A super trick for handling pie dough hassle-free:
First put a damp paper towel on the counter, followed by a large square of parchment (or waxed) paper. Put the disk of dough on the paper, then top with another square of paper. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough between the sheets of parchment. The damp paper towel prevents the parchment from sliding all over the counter when you are trying to roll it out.
Once rolled out, peel off one side of parchment paper, put this side down into pie plate, press in, then peel off top parchment. If the paper is sticking, just pop the whole thing in the freezer for a minute or two and it will firm up and pull off easily.
As the title of this post suggests, I did make home made vanilla ice cream to go with it - I think in doing so I took the blueberry pie experience to new levels of bliss. Recipe and tips for home made ice cream coming soon.
Double-Crust Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup (10 oz) cold butter, cut into small chunks
6 to 8 tablespoons ice-cold water
1. Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a very large bowl. Add the chilled butter and cut in using a pastry cutter, two knives, or by quickly working it in using your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (Alternatively, freeze a 1 1/4 cup block of butter - or 2 1/2 sticks in the U.S.- and then grate it into the flour mixture).
2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Stir the dough together using a wooden spoon, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time if needed to make dough stick together.
3. Dump the dough onto the counter and divide into two even piles. Scoop the first pile onto a square of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap around the pile and press to flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Repeat with the second half of dough. Wrap the disks tightly in more plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (At this point the dough can be refrigerated for two days, or frozen for up to two months. Let frozen dough thaw on the counter until soft enough to roll out). Let the chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling it out.
1 recipe double-crust pie dough
2 lbs blueberries (about 6 cups)
1 cup plus 1 tbsp white sugar
4 tbsp cornstarch
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tbsp butter, cut in small pieces
1. Place rimmed baking sheet on bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.
2. Roll out one half of dough and fit into pie plate, trimming overhang to 1/2 inch (using scissors). In a large bowl, toss blueberries with sugar and cornstarch. Pour berries into bottom pie crust.
3. Roll out second half of dough and place on top of pie. Press top and bottom crusts together and tuck the edges under. Pinch or crimp the crust around the diameter of the pie. Using scissors, cut 4 or 8 slits in the top crust, for vents. Brush top crust with beaten egg white, and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
4. Place pie on top of baking sheet and reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees.* Bake for 25 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking 30 - 35 minutes longer, till juices are bubbling and top is golden brown. Check on pie periodically during last 35 minutes of cooking to ensure crust is not getting too dark - if it is, remove pie from the oven and crimp aluminum foil around the edges (with an oven mitt on!) to create a crust-shield. Allow to cool before serving.
*Baking the pie on a rimmed, preheated baking sheet serves a couple of purposes. 1. The heat from the baking sheet encourages the bottom crust to crisp up quickly, thus preventing the dreaded soggy bottomed pie. (Soggy bottoms are just dreaded all around, aren't they).
2. Furthermore, the baking sheet will catch any overzealous blueberry bubbling action, preventing sticky sweet juice from landing on the bottom of your oven and starting a scary oven fire (almost causing you to pee your pants and creating an intense oven-phobia in your dog). Yes, I learned the second purpose by experience.