Spiced Blueberry Pie
Blueberries have to be one of my favourite berries – up there with all the rest. I use them for smoothies a lot and muffins and scones but I had never made a berry pie. National Pie Day was coming up and I decided I would try my hand at a berry pie. The dilemma here in Trinidad is getting fresh berries. You can get them, but you will pay an arm and a leg to get fresh, mediocre imported ones, that is why I always use frozen here. So I was on the look out for a good pie filling recipe that was simple and also used frozen berries.
One of the pie people I follow on IG just so happened to post a blueberry pie on her feed as I was on the search and she recommended a Serious Eats recipe for the best blueberry pie filling recipe that is a total no-fail using fresh or frozen berries. Who am I to ever question anything from serious eats? So I went straight over and started reading. The pie filling recipe sounded super simple. When I say simple you guys, and when it comes to pie filling, I really mean simple. Toss everything and dump into pie crust. That is exactly what this recipe was about. There was no boiling fruit, straining fruit and cooking and reducing syrup. It was a simple toss and dump.
I always worry about soggy soft dough and crusts when I’m baking with frozen berries and that is where the tapioca flour came into play. According to Serious Eats, it’s the ultimate thickener for pies especially using frozen fruit. I cannot agree more. I increased my tapioca flour by 1 tsp because I was nervous and that is the only thing I changed from the recipe along with the type of berries I used. I only had one type of blueberry - but the original recipe calls for a mix of wild and cultivated. I only had the regular frozen ones so that was what I used.
I wanted the blueberries to really shine in this pie, which I think they would no matter what spice I used. I wanted to spice them up a little extra to bring out their sweetness and also give them a little more depth of flavour, especially since the filling lacked the wild berries that would give it a flavour boost. That is why I decided to use the combo of cinnamon, allspice and ground cardamom. We loved the subtle combination of spice and the blueberries. They all are warm spices that go really with the blueberries.
I used my usual pie crust method which I use for pretty much every pie crust I make. It’s so simple and it always turns out perfectly even with my imperfect pie baking hands and skills. I knew this pie needed a top layer which meant I needed to double the pie crust recipe. I decided to make a simple lattice. I have never done a lattice before and I drummed up the courage to do it. I looked at a few tutorials, pics and directions and made a very basic one. I have included the simple directions I used from The Kitchn below. Not too difficult at all. The thing that makes it difficult in the Caribbean is the heat factor. I don’t have AC in the kitchen or throughout my apartment, so try making dough and playing with it in 30 plus degree weather. It’s a sopping mess after you place the first strip of dough down. That is ok though - it took a lot of running back and forth to the freezer, from making the strips to laying them on the pie, but it was totally worth it and boosted my confidence to make a tighter lattice for my next one. As I always say, if I can do it you can too!!!
This is truly a delicious pie and it is such a simple recipe that I recommend it to anyone! Hope you give it a try whether you are a seasoned pie maker or like me still in the beginners phase of pie making. We could not even wait until the pie fully set for two reasons. One I needed to have a taste, like really really needed to. Second reason was we were losing light to shoot it, thus the bit of blueberry mess on the plate. If we had waited the allotted cooling time the filling would have set completely as we learned later when we went for our second and third slices. You live you learn - some lessons are delicious and worth learning the hard way though.
For the pie crust (makes 1 single pie crust – DOUBLE for lattice or solid top sheet)
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted very cold butter
- 4-8 tablespoons ice water, divided
For the egg wash
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp heavy cream/full fat milk
- 1 tbsp of brown sugar for dusting
For the filling
- 5¼ cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
- 2 tbsp of fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1 cup of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup plus 2 teaspoon and a little extra for dusting the crust of tapioca starch such as Bob’s Red Mill
For the dough
- Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Alternatively if making crust by hand, whisk the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl.
- Remove the butter from the fridge and cut it into several small cubes.
- Scatter the cubes of butter over the surface of the flour in the food processor and pulse 15 to 25 times until the mixture resembles cornmeal with pieces of butter no larger than a pea. Alternatively, cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingertips but do not overwork.
- Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over the butter-flour mixture.
- Pulse 4 to 5 times to combine. Check to see if the dough is holding together by squeezing a bit of it in your hand — if it holds together, it’s ready; if it breaks apart easily, add a little more water one tbsp at a time. The final dough should not come together in as a typical dough, but you should see no more powdery flour and the dough should just be starting to clump together in large crumbs. Alternatively, sprinkle the water over the flour and use two forks to toss the flour to combine.
- Test the dough and add more water as described above, handling the dough as little as possible with your hands.
- Turn the pie dough out onto a clean work surface. Use your hands to very quickly gather and press the shaggy dough into a thick disk.
- Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 days (or freeze for up to 3 months; defrost in the fridge overnight before using).
- When ready to use remove the dough disk from fridge, sprinkle your clean working surface and rolling pin with flour.
- Unwrap the dough and lay it on top of the flour. Working from the middle of the dough outwards, roll the dough into a circle approx 12 inches in diameter (a few inches larger than your pie pan). Be careful to work the dough as little as possible. If the dough cracks when you first start rolling, let it stand for one minute to warm slightly before rolling again. Use more flour if the dough starts to stick. Use a pastry scraper to lift the pastry from the work surface and make sure it’s not sticking.
- Lay your rolling pin on one edge of the pie crust and begin gently rolling the pie crust over the rolling pin with the help of dough scraper if needed.
- When it’s all rolled up, move it to the 9 inch pie pan (NOT deep dish for this recipe) and gently unroll it into the pie plate and shape or ease it into the plate.
- Trim the pie dough edges and crimp them using your finger or a fork. Then place the dough in the fridge while you make the filling and lattice (directions for lattice below)
For the filling
- In a large bowl toss together the blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, all spice, vanilla extract and tapioca starch in a large bowl, folding with a flexible spatula until well combined.
- Sprinkle pie crust with a dusting of tapioca starch and then scrape the berry mixture into a prepared pie shell and top with remaining dough, using a solid sheet, cutouts, or a simple lattice-top design.
- Trim away excess dough and press in the edges with a fork or your fingers and refrigerate to ensure top crust is completely chilled, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 400°F
- In a small bowl whisk together the egg and cream for your egg wash. Brush over chilled top crust in a thin, even layer. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over crust.
- Place chilled pie on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, about 1 hour then loosely cover with tented foil. My edges were getting dark fast so I made a foil ring by cutting out the center of a piece of foil the size of the center of the pie and placed it over the edges of the pie so the edges did not burn. (Alternatively, an empty baking sheet can be placed on the topmost rack of the oven to serve as a shield.)
- Continue baking until filling is bubbling even in the very center of the pie, about 15 minutes longer. The time can vary considerably depending on the thickness and type of pie plate. Mine usually takes 1hr 15-20 minutes and I use my thicker ceramic pie plate.
- Cool pie on a cooling rack until the pie plate is no longer warm to the touch (approx 3 hours) and then serve or refrigerate if serving later.
- Wrapped in foil, leftovers will keep up to 3 days at room temperature; warm 10 minutes in a 350°F oven to revive crust before serving.
For simple Lattice instructions
- Prepare the top lattice crust: Roll out the second pie crust to a roughly 11-inch diameter (slightly smaller than the bottom crust).
- Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the crust into even strips roughly ¾-inch wide. (It’s fine to make thinner or thicker strips if you’d like, I chose thicker and fewer strips to keep things simple)
- Lay half the strips horizontally across the pie: Lay half the strips horizontally over the pie, using the longer strips in the middle of the pie and shorter strips toward the edges. Space the strips a little apart.
- Fold half the strips back on themselves: Fold every other strip back on itself.
- Lay one strip of pie crust vertically over the pie: Lay one of the remaining strips of pie crust vertically over the pie so that it lays across the unfolded horizontal strips. Snug it up against the folded strips.
- Begin latticing one side of the pie crust: Swap the folded and unfolded horizontal strips: unfold the folded horizontal strips so they lay over the vertical strip and fold the strips running under the vertical strip back over top. Lay another vertical strip of pie crust over the pie, snugging it up as closely as possible to the preceding vertical strip.
- Continue swapping the folded and unfolded horizontal strips and adding one new vertical strip each time. Continue until one half of the pie is completely latticed.
- Lattice the second half of the pie: Lattice the second half of the pie following the same pattern. Use the longer strips of pie dough in the middle of the pie and save the shorter strips for the edges.
- If the crust starts to soften too much while you’re creating the lattice, put the whole pie and any remaining strips of dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes to chill and firm up before continuing.
- Crimp the edges: Trim the edges with a sharp knife if needed, then roll them inwards toward the center of the pie. Firmly crimp the edges to seal. Use your egg wash and prepare to bake as normal.