blueberry perfect pie
Pie is such a triumphant thing. It takes patience and nuance and time to make and to bake. Yet few things transcend the joy and satisfaction that come from carefully slicing in to that perfectly flaky crust for the first time, seeing the season's fruit filling hold its shape delicately, and taking your first victorious bite. It is pure magic.
I cannot take full credit for this recipe. The crust was inspired by an old article from Lucky Peach, and the filling could only have been made possible with the advice and encouragement from my mother, a blue-ribbon worthy baker and pie whisperer. The cream cheese helps to make the crust a bit more sturdy and workable, and adds a lovely flake and tang to the finished product. As with all pie crusts, however, temperature and finesse are key. Check yourself to make sure you're not over-rolling the dough during the assembly process, and at the first sign of the dough getting warm, pop it back in the fridge or the freezer.
The crust recipe is currently written in gram increments, and ingredients can easily be measured with an electronic kitchen scale–an essential in my kitchen. I found this way to be more precise and highly recommend investing in a scale, but I do plan to re-visit the recipe soon and convert to standard measures for those who need it.
For the crust:
• 360 grams Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 baking flour (the best!)
• 5 grams kosher salt
• 20 grams sugar
• 150 grams full-fat cream cheese, cut into 1" cubes
• 150 grams salted butter, cut into 1" cubes
• 25 grams apple cider vinegar, well chilled
• 100–125 grams ice cold water
For the filling:
• 5 cups fresh blueberries (I imagine a mix of berries would work well here too)
• 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
• 1/4 cup maple syrup
• 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
• 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
• Zest from 1 lemon
• 3 tbsp. King Arthur Instant ClearJel (this stuff is magic!), or cornstarch
• 2 tsp. gelatin
• 2-4 tbsp. salted butter, but into small cubes
• 1 egg yolk, for brushing
Make the crust. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl, and whisk to combine. Toss in the cubed cream cheese, and coat evenly with the flour mixture. Freeze bowl for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the bowl from the freezer and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until cream cheese chunks start to get broken down slightly. Add the cold butter, and continue to pulse until mixture is evenly crumbly, and butter chunks are the size of small (1/4 inch) pebbles. Add in the vinegar, and continue to pulse gently just until apple cider vinegar has been incorporated. You never want to to turn the processor on at full speed. Think slow and gentle here!
Begin adding the water, spoonfuls at a time, and pulsing just until combined. When half of the water has been added, tip the contents of the processor bowl back into your mixing bowl, and use your hands to incorporate the rest of the water, a little at a time, until dough holds together when squeezed between your fingertips or formed into a ball. You may not need all the water here. The dough might look slightly floury still, but will absorb more moisture during the chilling process. Work gently and go with your gut!
Form the dough firmly into 2 discs about 1 inch thick, wrap well with parchment or plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day.
When you are ready to bake the pie, preheat your oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, gently fold together all filling ingredients and set aside. Have a standard 9" glass pie plate ready and waiting in the wings.
Remove one of your dough discs from the fridge, and spread a large piece of parchment on your work surface. Dusty lightly with more gluten-free flour, place dough disc on top of parchment, and roll out dough to about 11 inches in diameter. Work quickly and with focus here, adding more flour to the surface of the dough if it starts to stick, and ensuring it doesn't get too warm. Pick up the parchment paper with the dough disc on top, and in one quick motion, flip onto your pie plate, gently pressing and easing the dough into the bottom with your hands. Add the reserved filling to the crust, and dot with the cubed butter. Set crust aside.
Using a new piece of parchment and same method above, roll out the second disc of dough. You could then get fancy here and cut into strips for a lattice crust, or simply flop the second disc on top and cut out a few fancy shapes for air vents. Cut any excess dough from the edges of the pie plate, and using your fingers, crimp and pinch the bottom and top crusts together to form a pretty edge. Brush the pie surface with the beaten egg yolk, then sprinkle with additional coconut sugar if you'd like.
Bake the pie for 50-70 minutes, until crust is light golden brown and filling is nice and bubbly. If your crust is not getting brown to your liking, you could increase the temperature to 400° during the last 10 or so minutes of baking.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool COMPLETELY before cutting that first slice. Bring a slice to your neighbor. Share with those that you love. Pie is best served fresh, or chilled until the next morning and eaten for breakfast.