Summer Berry Pie

It’s July and it’s hot. Blueberries are coming in, hitting their peak in the next few days. At first they’re fine by the handful, tossed over cereal or sprinkled in a fruit salad, but then we’re ready for pie.  When the heat settles and a little breeze wafts, we can think of the chicken on the grill, the platter of roasting ears, and blueberry pie with home churned ice cream. Even if the kitchen’s too hot to turn on the oven, plug a toaster oven in on the patio, choose a smaller pie dish and have a summer berry pie anyway.

Maybe it’s meeting the challenge of trapping those purple juices between pastry that makes the pie a must have. Or perhaps it’s the memory of pies at the state fair or pies on grandma’s counter. Wherever we come from, summer fruit pie is a part of the culture that touches all of us. We could choose cherries, peaches, apricots or gooseberries, but today we’re all about blueberries. The world’s best blueberries are from our American fields; they’re ripe and ready for us right now. Blueberries, most flavorful when lightly cooked, stand out as summer’s consummate berry pie.

The following recipe gives you a buttery crust and a full fruit, not too sweet, filling that’s just right with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The little fruit pie trick I’m always eager to share is the strip of cloth used to bandage the pie’s edge. Rip a strip from a clean, old sheet. Dampen the cloth, wrap the pie’s edge and bake away fail-safe from spills, burns and mess. The damp cloth sticks to the pie dish and can be easily pulled away while the pie’s still warm. Photo shows pie with bandage.

Blueberry Pie

8 oz. all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups)

1/2 oz. powdered sugar (2 tablespoons

3/8 teaspoon salt

5 oz. cold unsalted butter (1 stick + 2 tablespoons)

1/4 cup ice water

4 cups (2 pints) blueberries

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons tapioca (or 3 tablespoons flour)

pinch salt

little grated lemon rind plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter

cream or milk for brushing + sugar to sprinkle

strip of clean cotton sheeting or T-shirt about 3 by 50 inches

To make pastry by hand, sift flour, sugar and salt into a wide bowl or onto a clean flat surface. Slice over cold butter and “cut” into flour with dough scraper, pastry blender until size of peas. Rub your fingers through flour until butter is in smaller flakes. Dribble over ice water 2 tablespoons at a time, draw liquid through flour with fingers or fork and bring dough together into compact ball. Shape into log, wrap and chill.

To make pastry in food processor, place flour, sugar and salt in work bowl. Slice in cold butter and pulse to coarse meal. Let machine run, and pour in water through feed tube. Stop machine as soon as dough comes to a ball. Shape into log wrap and chill.

Divide chilled pastry in 1/2. Shape each 1/2 into 4-inch disk, and

roll on lightly floured surface to generous 12-inch circle. Fold rolled dough in quarters and unfold in 10-inch glass pie plate (choose glass so you can see whether pastry is cooked on bottom). Press pastry neatly into bottom of plate and trim overhang. Add trimmings to remaining pastry dough. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons flour in bottom of shell and set aside while you prepare filling. Preheat oven to 375°F.

In wide bowl mix sugar, tapioca, and salt. Add berries and lemon; fold gently to combine. Scrape sugared fruit into pastry shell, and dot 1 tablespoon butter over top.

Roll remaining pastry to generous 12-inch circle, brush off flour, fold in quarters. Use sharp knife to make three ½-inch diagonal cuts in pastry along each fold, beginning 1 ½  inches from center point. (These cuts will give you 12 small steam vents).

Using your fingertips dipped in water, dampen pastry edge on lip of pie dish. Dry your fingers and unfold top pastry over fruit. Seal edges by tapping with fingertips. Trim to ¼-inch overhang. Tuck overhang under lower pastry edge; crimp as desired. Moisten strip of sheeting in cool water and squeeze out. Bandage edge of pie with cloth strip by pulling cloth around edge of pie dish half under lip and half over pastry. Overlap cloth to seal. (Cloth will protect edge from burning, will hold in bubbling juices and will save your oven floor!)  Use pastry brush or fingertips to paint top crust with cream or milk and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and continue to bake about 20-30 minutes longer or until top is golden and bottom crust is evenly browned. Remove to cooling rack; peel off cloth strip while pie is still warm.

          Mary Jo’s cookbook is available at


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One Response to “Summer Berry Pie”

  1. Pie Crust | Mary Jo's Kitchen Says:

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