I had such a good time with my first post (and y’all were so nice!) that I think I’m gonna do it again. Hope that’s cool with you…
Okay, so, I’d like to make this blog a nest in a tree of trust and understanding. Because it’s confession time.
I, Kate, as a self-professed obsessive baker and woman in her 20s, have never made my own pie crust. Sure, I’ve made an occasional graham cracker crust or (expertly) unrolled store-bought pie crusts onto a pie plate. But I had never ever baked a pie completely and totally from scratch.
Until Sunday, that is.
The fact that I made it 20+ years without baking my own pie crust is not something I’m very proud of. I might even feel a little shame about it. But can you blame me? Baking pie crust is intimidating, y’all. There’s a lot of cutting in chilled butter and mixing until “coarse meal” forms and waiting for the dough to chill and rolling out the dough and hoping hoping hoping that you somehow created the ever-elusive perfectly flaky, perfectly buttery base for your pie. People conduct lifelong quests for the perfect pie crust. This is serious.
Lest you judge me for my cowardly ways, though, I am happy to report I have reformed my life and can now say that I have baked a pie. Completely from scratch. Crust and all. That’s right: I cut in chilled butter, and mixed til it was coarse meal, and waited for it to chill and rolled it out. All by myself.
I feel like an adult.
I would like to take the time to thank my friend Jesse for providing the necessary motivation to take this big step. See, it was Jesse’s birthday this weekend, and Hannah and I have a very similar birthday philosophy: when it’s your birthday, you get to pick the baked good you eat. So, I asked Jesse what he wanted and after a little prodding he finally told me “Fruit pie.” Not exactly the answer I wanted to hear considering my lack of experience with pies (see above) or my love of cake (see previous post). But, his birthday, his choice.
So I made a pie. A blueberry pie. With a cornmeal crust. From scratch. To be exact.
And you know what? I kinda enjoyed it. I kinda wanna make another pie with a pastry crust again. Maybe not tomorrow or anything, but in the future. At some point. Baby steps, okay?
Blueberry Pie with Cornmeal Crust (served with Lemon Curd)
Makes one 9 inch pie; serves 8
For the Crust
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (medium grind)
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup frozen shortening, cut into 1/2 cubes
4 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling
5 cups (27 oz) fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
To finish the Pie
- For the Crust- Blend flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in food processor. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until it starts to look like coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons of ice water and blend until clumps begin to form. If your dough seems a little dry, add more ice water in teaspoonfuls. Here’s the deal, though, I don’t have a food processor, so I did this process by hand with a pastry cutter, and it seemed to work out just fine.
- Gather the dough into a ball and divide in half. Flatten each half into a disk and wrap each in plastic wrap. Let chill for at least one hour. You can make this dough and chill it for up to a day in advance. You’ll want to give the dough a little bit of time to soften before rolling it out, though.
- For the Filling- While the dough is chilling, combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and water in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature until juices begin to form, usually about 30 minutes.
- To Make the Pie- Preheat your oven to 400c and place a rimmed baking sheet at the bottom of the oven. Before I baked this pie, I didn’t understand why you needed to put a random baking sheet in the oven. But, as I quickly remembered after I put the pie in the oven, fruit pies are juicy and can spill over the sides of the pie dish. Thus the baking sheet to catch all the juices and to keep your oven relatively clean.
- Roll out one dough disk between two sheets of floured parchment into a 12 inch round. Peel off top parchment sheet and invert dough round into pie dish. Carefully peel off remaining parchment (this is easier said than done, as pie dough is kinda sticky). Gently press the dough into the pie dish, sealing any cracks that may have formed and leaving the overhang on the sides of the dish.
- Spoon filling into crust.
- Roll out the second dough disk as you did the first. After peeling top parchment sheet off, invert the dough on top of the filling. Carefully peel the second sheet off as well. Trim the overhang of both crusts to about 1 inch. Fold both overhangs under, and crimp edges decoratively. This is a place to kinda have fun with it. Use a fork or spoon or your fingers to mark this pie crust as yours!
- Cut five 2-inch long slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape while baking. Though, your crust may do what mine did and allow steam to escape along the edges instead…
- Lightly brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle with raw sugar.
- Bake pie for 15 minutes. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling thickly through the crust. The recipe says this should take about 1 hour 15 minutes, and mine took about 1 hour 10.
- Cool pie completely on rack. Then slice and serve with lemon curd.
The cornmeal in the crust makes it an interesting cross between a flaky pastry crust and a graham cracker/cookie crust. It’s definitely more pastry than graham cracker-y, but the cornmeal gives it a crunch and a little bit of a nuttiness. I think it might be a good first pie crust for anyone out there who, like me three days ago, has never baked a pie crust from scratch because the different texture of this crust could be a bit more forgiving than a straight up pastry crust. Last note, serving this pie with lemon curd was a definite HIT. The pie is delish by itself, but the lemon curd gave a nice contrast to the blueberries. Plus, do I really need to convince you to put lemon curd on something? It’s the best. Especially when it’s this easy.
To close, I have a challenge or request. Whichever one you want to take it as, really. Here it is: I need a sign-off. I feel bad stealing Hannah’s (thanks for reading, happy baking!), and my boyfriend (The Accountant) thinks that I should have my own. His suggestion thus far has been “Don’t cook bacon naked.” and while this is sage advice, I’m not sure it’s really the message I want to leave you with at the end of each post. So, if you have any super awesome ideas, leave them in a comment please! As a poor law student, I can’t promise you anything if you post the winning suggestion, but you will get bragging rights and my gratitude. Until I have my own, thanks for reading and happy baking!