Blueberry “I’m a Star” Pie

Baking, Dessert, Fruit, Local, Summer | February 25, 2013 | By

This is my definitive blueberry pie recipe. It combines all the tricks in the book: adding cornflour, smushing up part of the blueberries and using star shapes (you could criss cross pastry stripes if you don’t own a star cookie cutter) instead of a heavier top crust to deliver a champion fruit pie.

My problem with blueberries is I find them a tad insipid – the “plain Janes” of the berry world. I know I go against the tide of “blueberryism” sweeping the globe, but I just find them a bit mundane when cooked. In fact I find their tarter cousins blackberries and blackcurrants far more complex and alluring when cooked, but then I suppose that’s the way of the tartier set? Berry heresy indeed.

Now the benefit of tasting sweet when raw is that blueberries “au natural” do in fact make spectacular and easy desserts. Smush up a few, add the whole berries, add some chopped mint, a slug of Rum and lime juice and zest and you have a Blueberry Mojito Salsa that loves being poured over ice cream, adores being dripped onto cream and meringues “Eton Mess” style and makes for a lively yoghurt cheesecake topping.

Their very juiciness that makes them so mouth poppingly good in raw desserts is part of the problem when cooking them – simply too much juice. This is a problem when making blueberry pies where the excess liquid can be the cause of a soggy bottom and that’s not the kind of kitchen accident you want.

So here is a pie recipe that peps up the flavor with lemon, makes the pie more berry and less pastry and oozes only flavor.

Gadgets & Gizmos

For this kind of pie, a pie tin with a removable base is desirable. You can make it in a pie dish but its not as pretty. A pastry brush does help.

Timing

Making the pastry base and baking it blind does involve more time (approx two hours if you include relaxing time) but fit in other things to do around it rather than hanging around for your pastry case to bake. Or make the day before and freeze it or store in an airtight container somewhere cool and dry.

Ingredients

500g blueberries

25g sugar (optional)

1 tsp cornflour (“Amidon”)

Zest of 1 lemon

1 egg lightly beaten

Easy pastry

Mix with a “K” shaped beater in a food mixer or blend in a food processor:

200g butter

225g flour

When it resembles breadcrumbs (do not over mix) add 60ml of very cold water and mix or blend until the pastry comes together. Do not over mix as you will end up with gluey tough pastry. Relax in the fridge (the pastry not you) for 1 before using.

This is a very soft pastry and is easy to work with. However the base needs weighting down with rice, salt (slightly risky) or baking beans (a packet of “fasole” is great) to prevent it “ballooning”.

Pastry Case

Roll the pastry out in a circle to 3mm thick (just more than a coin) and using the rolling pin to lift the pastry, place the circle of pastry over the tin. Gently ease it into the case and press it in. Cold hands and a gentle touch are key here. Use a knife or the rolling pin to trim off the edges hanging over. Squish up the scraps and make into another ball of pastry. Re-roll and cut out stars or strips. Cover with plastic film to use when you fill the pie. (Note: if you refrigerate them they will become solid and a bit difficult to work with. Just leave them somewhere cool)

Scrunch up a piece of baking paper (“hartie de copt”) and un-scrunch it, so it is softer and more easily fits the shape of your tin. Line the pastry case with the paper. Fill the case with your “baking beans” of choice. Bake at 180C for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paint the base with the egg wash. This is the all important waterproofing layer. Bake at 180C for 10 minutes.

Filling the Pie

Blend 200g of berries with the lemon zest and corn flour to a puree. Stir in 300g of berries. The corn flour will help thicken the filling as will blending part of the berries.

Fill the pre-baked pastry case with the filling. Arrange your stars or stripes over the filling, brush them with the egg wash so they become nice and golden when baked and bake again at 160C for 20-25 minutes until reaching a pleasant golden color.

Serve slightly warm with the traditional ice cream accompaniment. I like honey and lavender ice cream as an alternative to vanilla but I have also served with a lime and mint sorbet as a racier alternative.

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