Blueberry Pie Filling

Very soon it will be the pi (π) day – the biggest π day this century – 3/14/15!  In honor of such a glorious holiday (math nerds and foodies UNITE!), pie is definitely called for.  As I have the pleasure of working that day, cream and custard pies are not an option.  (Such pies just don’t have much room temperature stability and don’t travel very well, either.)  And there are no local fresh fruit options available in Nebraska in March.  My favorite fruit pies are peach (really only available in late summer) and any type of berry.  Unfortunately, most berries don’t stand up well to mixing or baking as they are just too delicate.  (Berries do better in a lighter chiffon or cream pie as then they can just be poured into a single crust pie.  But then we are back to the problem of room temperature stability.  Umpf!)  Happily the small but mighty blueberry is an exception!  Available frozen all year round, and *almost* as good as fresh, blueberry pie can be made whenever the craving for a good fruit pie strikes!

REFERENCE: SCC Culinary School, Food Prep Fundamentals II Lab Recipe

TIME SCHEDULE:

Ingredient Prep Time:  30 minutes + time to thaw blueberries

Oven Temperature:  375° F or 190°C

Baking Time:  45-60 minutes (or 1 hour 30-45 minutes from frozen)

MAKES:  one 9-inch pie (6-8 slices)

Draining the thawed blueberries

Draining the thawed blueberries

Three ounces of drained blueberry juice (no water needed)

Three ounces of drained blueberry juice (no water needed)

The cornstarch slurry looks like milk!

The cornstarch slurry looks like milk!

This was my Oma's glass citrus juicer.  And it still gets the job done!

This was my Oma’s glass citrus juicer. Over 50 years old and it still gets the job done!

One-half an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice

One-half an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice

The blueberry juice and cornstarch thicken quickly - here I am already adding the 2nd amount of sugar!

The blueberry juice and cornstarch thicken quickly – here I am already adding the 2nd amount of sugar!

Adding the salt and cinnamon to the thickened blueberry sauce

Adding the salt and cinnamon to the thickened blueberry sauce

Although it is hard to see, I am adding the almond extract off heat.  I don't want that wonderful aroma to boil off!

Although it is hard to see, I am adding the almond extract off heat. I don’t want that wonderful aroma to boil off!

Add the thickened sauce carefully to the remaining blueberries.  You don't want to crush them too much!

Add the thickened sauce carefully to the remaining blueberries. You don’t want to crush them!

Since rolling out a pie crust is kind of a mess, I generally use parchment paper so I can throw the whole lot away when finished.

Since rolling out a pie crust is kind of a mess, I generally use parchment paper so I can throw the whole lot away when finished.

Try not to use too much flour, as it will make the pie trougher.  But some is needed to prevent sticking.

Try not to use too much flour, as it will make the pie trougher. But some is needed to prevent sticking.

Using a pastry scraper helps me roll the pie crust around my rolling pin to aid its transfer to the pie plate.

Using a pastry scraper helps me roll the pie crust around my rolling pin to aid its transfer to the pie plate.

Butter, butter, and more butter!

Butter, butter, and more butter!

The best way to get straight lattice rungs - use a ruler!  This 1-inch metal ruler is a permanent part of much kitchen gadgetry.  Since it's metal, I even throw it in the dishwasher afterwards!

The best way to get straight lattice rungs – use a ruler! This 1-inch metal ruler is a permanent part of my kitchen gadgetry. Since it’s metal, I even throw it in the dishwasher afterwards!

Lattice Step 1: Lay down all of the vertical rungs.  Bend up every other one.  Lay down the middle horizontal rung.

Lattice Step 1: Lay down all of the vertical rungs. Bend up every other one. Lay down the middle horizontal rung.

Lattice Step 2: Bend up the vertical rungs that were not bent up in previous step.  Lay down second horizontal rung.

Lattice Step 2: Bend up the vertical rungs that were not bent up in previous step and lay the others down. Lay down second horizontal rung.

Lattice Step 3: Repeat previous step, just bending up the previously down vertical rungs and add another horizontal rung.

Lattice Step 3: Repeat previous step, just bending up the previously down vertical rungs and lowering the previously up rungs.  Add another horizontal rung.

Lattice Step 4: Repeat previous step again.

Lattice Step 4: Repeat previous step again.

Lattice Step 5: The pie looks nicer if the final vertical rungs lay directly next to the edge.  Don't leave any filling showing!

Lattice Step 5: The pie looks nicer if the final vertical rung lies directly next to the edge. Don’t leave any filling showing!

Lattice Step 6:  Repeat previous steps with the other half of the pie.  The water is used to help seal the edges.

Lattice Step 6: Repeat previous steps with the other half of the pie. The water is used to help seal the edges.

Lattice Step 7:  People eat pie because they like pie crust.  Otherwise they would eat blueberry pudding.  I roll a significant amount of the extra crust under the top layer to give a nice thick edge.

Lattice Step 7: People eat pie because they like pie crust. Otherwise they would eat blueberry pudding. I roll a significant amount of the extra crust under the top layer to give a nice thick edge.

Personal note:  If you do not like pie crust, please do not eat my pies.  I spend a lot of time and pour a lot of love into my crusts.  It takes me about 20 minutes to make a pudding from scratch.  Do yourself and your family a favor, let them know if all you want is the filling!  That’s the easy part!

Lattice Step 8:  As I have to hold my camera with one hand, I can't show how to flute properly.  But imagine my right hand doing the extact same thing as the left!

Lattice Step 8: As I have to hold my camera with one hand, I can’t show how to flute properly. But imagine my right hand doing the extact same thing as the left!

The finished lattice!  I still need to add milk and sugar if I was going to bake this today, but since I'm going to freeze it, I'll leave it without.

The finished lattice! I still need to add milk and sugar if I was going to bake this today, but since I’m going to freeze it, I’ll leave it without.

Here the pie is wrapped tightly for freezing.

Here the pie is wrapped tightly for freezing.

A pi pie!

A pi pie!

I’ll add some more pictures on π Day of the finished product.  I’m also hoping to get some feedback from my poor coworkers who will be stuck sharing the pie with me.

Before baking brush the pie with a little bit of milk, followed by . . .

Before baking brush the pie with a little bit of milk, followed by . . .

Turbinado sugar!  The milk and sugar helps brown the pie and adds a little bit of crunchy sweetness!

Turbinado sugar! The milk and sugar helps brown the pie and adds a little bit of crunchy sweetness!

The finished pi pie.  Notice how brown the pie is.  It should be a nice nut color.  You don't want a pale pie!

The finished pi pie. Notice how brown the pie is. It should be a nice nut color. You don’t want a pale pie!

Blueberry pie a la mode!

Blueberry pie a la mode!

π Day Update:  All of my coworkers, except the one who strangely doesn’t like blueberries, really liked the pie.  Redheaded-Mother-of-Six stated this was one of the few pies she even enjoyed the crust!  And SouthernBelle, a real Southern lady from Georgia, said the pie was great.  And you know something is good when you get genuine praise from a Southern cook!  The main recommendation I got from my coworkers would be that it might use a little bit more filling, as the filling was a bit low compared to the depth of the pie pan.  I haven’t adjusted this recipe at this time, but you might consider making one and a half times the filling to give it a nice rounded, full look.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS MEASURE WEIGHT
volume ounces grams
frozen blueberries 4 cups 1 lb 5 oz 595 g
juice from drained blueberries plus water (if needed) 1/4 c + 2 Tbsp 3 oz 85 g
sugar 3 Tbsp +                     1 1/4 tsp 1 1/2 oz 42 g
cold water 3 Tbsp 1 1/2 oz 42 g
cornstarch 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp 3/4 oz 21 g
sugar 1/2 c 3 1/2 oz 99 g
salt 3/4 tsp
cinnamon 1/2 tsp
lemon juice 1 Tbsp 1/2 oz 15 mL or 15 g
almond extract 1/2 tsp
butter, unsalted 2 Tbsp 1 oz 28 g
Double pie crust 1 double crust
milk and Turbinado sugar enough to brush top

SPECIALTY EQUIPMENT:

Rolling pin, dough scraper, pie plate

PROCEDURE:

  1. Thaw the berries, drain the juice and keep for next step. Set the berries aside.
  2. Add enough water to the juice to equal 3 ounces per pie. (I did not find the addition of any water necessary, as I had plenty of blueberry juice.) Put into a saucepan with first amount of sugar (1 ½ ounces / 42 grams).
  3. Mix cold water with cornstarch to form a slurry. The slurry should have no lumps and look like milk.
  4. Bring the juice and sugar mixture to a boil. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and return to a boil to thicken. It should thicken very quickly, so be sure to stir constantly and watch the temperature.
  5. Add the remaining sugar, salt, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the second amount of sugar is also dissolved.
  6. Off heat, add the almond extract and mix well.
  7. Pour the mixture over the blueberries. Mix gently. Let cool slightly while rolling out crust. (If the mixture is added too hot, it will start to melt the fat in the pie mixture resulting in a less flaky crust.)
  8. Roll out 10-11 ounces of the pie pastry for the bottom crust. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough.
  9. Fill the pie shells with the cool blueberry mixture. Top with cubes of butter. Roll out the rest of the pie pastry and seal it to the bottom layer of the pie pastry with a little water. Or make a lattice top with the remaining pie pastry.
  10. Decorate the top crust of the pie, brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar.
  11. Place the pie on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake at 375° F (190° C) until the crust is golden brown, about 30-45 minutes (or 1 hour 30-45 minutes if baking frozen).

MAKE AHEAD POINTERS:

Before brushing the pie with milk and sugar, the pie can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 months.  Bake frozen pie for ~ 1 hour 30-45 minutes.

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