Sunday, July 20, 2014

Perfectionism is a Trap Blueberry Pie

The other morning I was thinking of how often pie is mentioned or featured in movies (maybe you think of grown-up things like 401Ks and vacation plans but this is how it works in my mind palace) which got me to thinking of one of my favorite pie-centric movies, Waitress.  In the movie, Jenna, an unhappy, pregnant pie baker imbues her pie creations with emotional sometimes hilarious names like "I Don't Want Earl's Baby Pie" or "Pregnant, Miserable, Self-Pitying Loser Pie".
I started wondering what I would name this pie at this moment in my life. Blueberries Were on Sale While I Was at the Store Ah-gain Pie? Why Can't I Always Have What I Want Pie? Making Pie is More Fun than Mopping Floors Pie? Perfectionism is a Trap Pie? Yep, that's the one. Perfectionism is a trap. This is one of the many lessons I am learning right now and I think it fits perfectly with pie making.
Pie fitted
A lot of people are overwhelmed at the thought of making their own pie crust. I used to be one of those people. But for heaven's sake, it's just a pie crust! It doesn't have to be perfect to be good and it will never be good if you don't try frequently and learn from your mistakes. Oh snap, I think that was a metaphor for life right there. Sneaky.
I could have spent my pie-making time mopping another floor or cleaning another toilet but what's better for my soul right now? Making pie. There's something so satisfying to me about tying on an apron, sprinkling flour on the board, taking the rolling pin in hand and gently but firmly transforming the humblest blob of ingredients into a vessel within which endless delicious fillings are possible. Also? Homemade pie seems to impress the shit out of people. Seriously. I don't think I could garner more astonishment if I performed brain surgery with a butter knife. No one's gonna notice those dirty floors if the pie is delicious. Promise.

Perfectionism is a Trap Blueberry Pie
I often have this inner dialogue with you when I am making a recipe that I'd like to blog about. I wonder how much detail I should give you or how many "helpful" tips I should include or, if you're not a big food-science nerd like me, how much you really want to know about such things. The irony of giving you 872 tips on making the perfectly imperfect pie crust is not lost on me. So I am including a link to Pie Crust 101 should you like to read up on the things that go into making a more successful pie crust, but I promise, you can also just dive in here and get to makin' and learnin'. It's gonna be fine.

Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 Tbls. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, very cold, and cut into small pieces
Ice cold water

Fill a measuring cup with ice and water. Set aside while you mix the crust. Mix flour, sugar, and salt together in a large, wide bowl. Using a pastry blender or your impeccably clean hands, work the butter into the flour mixture until you have pea-sized lumps of butter. Add 4 Tbls. of ice water (just the water! Leave any unmelted ice in the cup.) and mix gently with a fork or spatula. At this point, add the water 1 Tbls. at a time until the dough starts to hold together (it's better to err on the side of the dough being a little too wet than too dry.) Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can make the dough at least two days in advance and keep wrapped in plastic in the fridge. You might need to let it soften slightly before rolling it out if you do that.

Streusel topping
6 Tbls. unsalted butter, very cold cut into small pieces
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt

In the bowl you just pulled the pie crust out of, mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt, and butter using  a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Store in fridge until ready to top your pie.

Blueberry Filling
3 pints (approx. 6 cups) fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 Tbls. lemon juice
4 tsp. cornstarch
pinch of salt
In a large bowl, combine blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Mix together, mashing some of the berries slightly to create juice. Set aside while you roll out your crust.

Preheat oven to 350'. On a lighly floured surface roll out your pie crust, sprinkling the crust, the pin, and the board frequently with flour to prevent sticking. I also like to slide a floured spatula under the crust after every few rolls just to make sure that sucker isn't going to stick. Fold crust in half, then gently lift and settle into pie plate and unfold the crust. Fold under the raw edges of the crust and crimp the edges to your heart's desire. Remember it's about taste not perfect beauty. Pile in the blueberry filling, leveling it out a little, then sprinkle the streusel on top. It will seem like too much, it's not. Place pie on a rimmed cookie sheet (trust me on this, fruit pies like to overflow. You don't want that in your oven) and bake for 60-75 minutes until streusel is browned and blueberry filling is bubbling. Cool completely at room temperature.