Jun 17, 2015

Secret Ingredient Blueberry Pie

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I used to be the queen of multitasking. Before children, I had the awesome ability to keep all kinds of balls in the air–thoughts, plans, chores, jobs, appointments, workouts, clicking off items on my to-do list with relative ease. (Never mind that I always thought OMG I’M SOOOO BUSY AND EXHAUSTED. Heh, heh, little Shauna. Weren’t you so sweet and naive in your perceived level of craziness? You had no idea what was coming, love. Why don’t you and your tiny jeans go and spend three hours getting a haircut and highlights without having to find a babysitter and try and wrap your brain around it. You can’t even.)

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These days I still multitask–mothers rarely have a choice–but it’s with a lot less certainty. I’m almost always forgetting something or dropping one or more balls and generally feeling like a bowl of spaghetti that’s been thrown against the wall. Which, by the way, is the kind of thing that my son does approximately 57 times per day. He’s SO GIFTED, you guys.

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But luckily, just when I was really about to lose it, I got to refresh and realign my brain a bit during that New York trip I told you about in my last post. A few deep breaths, some terrific professional grooming, and a couple solo meals worked wonders for my harried self. In addition to all that aforementioned greatness, there was also a Real Sweet event at Baked bakery in Tribeca that was just fabulous. The turnout and energy was wonderful, and the spread!

The Baked team outdid themselves with trays of delicious treats from the book and I had a hard time not tearing up at the kindness and beauty of it all. Then all kinds of old and new friends showed up for hugs and drinks and sweets and laughs and man, oh, man, if that’s not up there with the best kind of day imaginable, then I don’t know what is. The Baked boys never cease to inspire me with their baking philosophy and recipes, and it was invigorating just to be in their gorgeous Tribeca space, let alone have them actually throw a party to celebrate my book. What-whaaaaat…!

But even with all that New York-ish hubbub, I was happy to land back in foggy San Francisco and hug my little family, feeling like a recharged battery. Back to the reality of running and doing and spontaneous hugs and wet kisses, wiping up spills and pinning up ballet buns and changing my shirt again because what the heck is this stain? But definitely with a little more spring in my step after getting to change out the mom hat for a couple days. It’s a good thing. My girl and I hit up Mission Pie for a little mom and daughter date to catch up, and then went home with a hankering for more pie and itchy fingers ready to get back to the kitchen. There was only one thing to do, of course.

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This recipe is a keeper. It’s really the ideal kind of blueberry pie, and dare I say, the only recipe for it that you’ll ever need–sweet and a bit tart, a firm filling that’s gloriously luscious, miraculously clean-slicing, and not at all gummy. The genius use of confectioners’ sugar instead of regular granulated gives you additional starch for support, and the use of frozen berries instead of fresh makes this recipe evergreen and way more economical, although if you were to ever run into a glut of dirt-cheap organic blueberries, this would be the time of year to do it, and I imagine they would work just as well.

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The kicker here is the secret ingredient: WINE. As in a soft, fruity red of your choosing, simmered with the berries to a syrupy magenta gloss, reducing to the most vivid, blueberries-on-steroids filling ever. I mean, wine, in pie, people. This is true multitasking, the kind I might actually be able to accomplish on any given day, motherhood and all. (True story: I actually managed to drop my phone into the pie while taking a photo, thanks to a certain hanger-on who was on the step stool next to me–your pie, of course, won’t have a dent in it like mine. THIS IS MY LIFE, YOU GUYS.)

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Secret Ingredient Blueberry Pie
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Serves 8 to 10

I used my Favorite Pie Crust here, but you can use any crust recipe you like, including jazzing up a store-bought crust if you are pressed for time. I used a fun lattice pie cutter, which I love. If you go this route, make sure you roll out the top crust and chill it very firm first for the cleanest cuts (I put the rolled out crust in the freezer, on a sheet pan, for about 5 minutes).

For the wine for the filling, I used Cloudline Pinot Noir, one of my very favorite light reds, and it was so very perfect here. In fact, once the fruit had reduced with the wine, I tasted it and found it so bold in fruit flavor and natural sweetness that I adjusted the flavorings and reduced the sugar from the original recipe–no need to mess with natural perfection, in my opinion. I’ve included my changes below.

1 batch of My Favorite Pie Crust, or other double-crust pie dough of your choosing

6 cups (24 ounces/680 grams) frozen blueberries
1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) light, fruity red wine (such as a light Pinot Noir or Beaujolais)
3/4 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup (1 7/8 ounces/53 grams) dark brown sugar or light muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup (1 ounce/28 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) milk
Turbinado or other coarse, sparkly sugar, for sprinkling

Divide the dough roughly in half, making one half slightly larger than the other. Pat into disks, wrap lightly in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days ahead.

To make the filling, place the berries in a large, 12-inch saute pan set over medium-high heat. Add the wine. Simmer gently, until the liquid in the bottom of the pan is noticeably thickened and syrupy, 35-45 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool completely. (You can make the berry filling a day ahead, and chill in the refrigerator.)

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 375°F. Allow the dough to warm up a bit out of the refrigerator, about 15 minutes on the countertop. Flour your work surface, and roll the larger piece of dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch regular (not deep-dish) pie pan that’s at least 1 1/4 inches deep; leave the edges hanging over the edge of the pan.

To finish preparing the filling, in a medium-sized bowl, fold together the cooled blueberries and their syrupy juices, the sugars, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and cinnamon and salt. Stir in the butter, then the flour, until evenly mixed. Spoon the filling into the bottom crust.

Roll the remaining piece of dough into an 11-inch circle (use a lattice top cutter like I did, or not), and lay it atop the filling. Bring the hanging edges of the bottom crust up and over the top crust, rolling and squeezing them together, then crimping decoratively. if you opted out of the lattice cutter, cut three slashes in the top of the pie, to allow steam to escape. Brush or spray (I use a little washable spray bottle like this one) the top crust with milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Set the pie on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, to catch any wayward juices.

Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Rotate the pie 180 degrees. Bake for an additional to 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and you can see the berries bubbling through the slits in the crust (if the curst is browning too quickly, cover the top with aluminum foil). Remove the pie from the oven, and allow it to cool to room temperature, at least 5 hours, before cutting and serving.

  • Kinda random – I made this filling using wild blueberries (cause I like them better :). The filling seems a bit…small. Any idea how many cups of filling you had after simmering the berries and wine?

  • Such a lovely pie! The Pinot Noir sounds like it will make an amazing addition to the flavor :)

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