Friday, February 28, 2020

Wild Blueberry Pie and a Milk Powder Crust

Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie CrustLast fall, for our fifth wedding anniversary, my husband and I took a mini belated honeymoon to the New England states.  We ended up being a bit early to see too many fall colors, which was a little disappointing, but we still had a wonderful and relaxing five days starting in Albany, New York, making our way through New Hampshire and Vermont, and ending the trip in Maine....

We picked apples in a 100-year-old apple orchard, we drove through gorgeous countryside in search of a famously photographed farmhouse in Vermont and tasted maple syrup at a sugar shack.  We ate oysters and lobster, went for an evening sailboat ride and searched through dusty shelves of antiques hoping to find a few hidden treasures small enough to take home.  We visited a few lighthouses and drove along miles of scenic coastline, stopping for lobster rolls and lemonade, and tasted wine in an old barn converted into a winery.

And on our last evening, after dinner in Camden, Maine, we shared a piece of blueberry pie, which was the best blueberry pie either of us had ever tasted.  The waiter told us the name of the bakery they bought their pies from, and the next morning, we went in search of the bakery, hoping for another piece of pie or some other treat.




Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust

Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust

Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust




We found the bakery, but sadly, they were unexpectedly closed that whole day, and the next, so that was the end of that.  After we came home to Colorado, I e-mailed them, hoping they wouldn't mind telling me a little bit about their pie, and just what made it so wonderful.  The most pronounced flavor, besides the blueberries, of course, was the butter.  Now, I make a great blueberry pie, and I make my crusts with all butter, but their crust just tasted more buttery and more flavorful than anything I'd had before, and if there was a way I could make my pie even better, then I needed to know what that was.

It didn't take long, actually, to receive a friendly reply back, and they shared with me a few tips.  Besides using wild Maine blueberries, rather than cultivated blueberries, they used Cabot butter in the filling, lemon juice or limoncello, and sugar.  For the crust, they used pastry flour (the lower protein content creates flakier pastries), Cabot butter, salt, sugar and milk powder (for moisture, flavor and added flakiness).  With the info I'd been waiting for, I started addressing each ingredient to see where I could apply some changes to my own recipe.

I didn't think I'd actually be able to find wild Maine blueberries, until, a few weeks later, I was buying frozen berries at Target, and suddenly noticed that next to the "blueberries" were bags of "wild blueberries".  Either they don't carry them all the time, or I'd never noticed them before, but I immediately bought several bags, excited to have the most important ingredient in hand.

Next, I began searching for Cabot butter, but after a futile search of 4-5 grocery stores, Amazon, and Cabot's website, I had to give up, as it's apparently not a brand I can buy in Colorado.  So, instead, I just picked up a couple blocks of the fancier European style butter, to see if that would make any difference in flavor in my filling and crust.  To be honest, I'm not sure that the more expensive European butter made any difference in flavor in the baked pie, so it's probably not something I would splurge on often.

For the pastry flour, I considered buying some on Amazon, as I've never found it in any grocery store, but decided not to.  In terms of protein content of common baking flours, all-purpose flour is highest at around 10-13%, then pastry flour at 8.5%-9.5%, with cake flour the lowest at around 7%-8.5%.  So to make your own pastry flour, you can mix all-purpose flour with cake flour in approximately a 2:1 ratio, or you can add several tablespoons of corn starch to all-purpose flour, which also works to tenderize baked goods.

Milk powder was the easiest ingredient to find, since you can get powdered milk pretty much anywhere.




Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust

Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust

Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust




And so, I worked out the quantities I thought I should incorporate for everything and baked my pie.  For blueberry pies, I always pre-cook my filling a day in advance.  This not only ensures that the filling is thickened, but as it cools overnight, the flavors mingle and intensify, making for a better pie.  And it was a really, really great pie.  The crust was flaky and tender, the filling sweet and tart and full of blueberries, and we ate every last piece over the course of a few days, with the crust staying flaky for days after.

Now, to do a true taste test, I'd need a piece of pie from my old recipe, one from this updated recipe, and a piece of the bakery's blueberry pie to really be able to compare.  Without that, who's to say which one is best?




Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust

Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust

Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust

Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie Crust





Baking Notes:
  1. If you can't find wild blueberries, regular cultivated blueberries are fine, too.
  2. The crust recipe below is enough dough for a double-crust pie.  However, if doing an intricate design like a lattice, it will not be enough dough, since a lattice top essentially uses two crusts, especially if there are no gaps between the strips, like in my design.  If you need more dough for a lattice design, you can scale the crust recipe to 1 1/2 times the amounts listed below, to get enough for 3 crusts.  That said, when doing a lattice, you should roll the dough fairly thin, so that the overlapping strips don't create a too-thick top crust.
  3. Pro Tip: I assembled my lattice on the counter and trimmed the edges before carefully lifting and placing the whole design on top of my pie.


Wild Blueberry Pie
printable


Crust.
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk powder (nonfat or whole)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 6 tablespoons half 'n' half 
  • 1 egg white (for egg wash)
  • a little extra granulated sugar for sprinkling over the egg wash
Filling.
  • 2 pounds wild blueberries (thawed, if frozen)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Crust.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, milk powder, corn starch, sugar and salt.  Scatter the diced butter over the flour mixture.  Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter in until the butter pieces are no bigger than 1/4 inch.  Now, use your fingers to smash the butter pieces flat.  Drizzle the half 'n' half over the mixture and toss together.  Dump the mixture out onto a clean work surface; it will be very dry and floury.  Use your hands to gather the mixture up, working the liquid into the dry ingredients, just until it all comes together into a ball of dough.

Lightly flour your work surface.  Roll the dough out into a large square, between 1/4 - 1/8 inch thick, using a little more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.  Using a bench scraper to loosen the dough from the counter if it's sticking, fold the square into thirds, like a letter, then fold the long ends towards the center into thirds again, so you have a neat square package of dough.  Cut the dough in half so you have two portions.  You can now roll out the dough immediately, or wrap each portion in plastic and refrigerate for several days, or freeze indefinitely for later use.  If your dough is cold and hard from the refrigerator, you'll need to let it sit out and soften for at least an hour until you'll be able to roll it out.

Filling.
In a large stock pot, toss together the blueberries with the sugar and corn starch.  Stir in the lemon juice and salt until everything is evenly coated.  Over medium low heat, gently warm the blueberries until the sugar dissolves and they become very liquidy.  Over medium heat, cook the blueberries, stirring constantly but gently, so that you don't smash the berries, bring them to a boil, and continue to cook until it thickens into the consistency of jam.  Once it reaches a boil, cook for one full minute before removing from the heat.  Stir in the vanilla and butter.

Refrigerate and cool completely, preferably overnight so that the flavors intensify.

Assembly and Bake.
Preheat your oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one portion of the dough so that it's large enough to fit into a deep dish pie pan with a little bit of overhang.  Trim the edges.  Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with 2 tablespoons flour, to help prevent the bottom from getting soggy.

Pour the chilled filling into the crust.

Roll out the other portion of dough and lay it over the filling, trimming and crimping the edges of the dough as you like.  Brush the top lightly with the egg white and then sprinkle with sugar.  If your top crust is completely sealed with no gaps in your design (like a lattice), use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the top to vent the steam.

Refrigerate the pie for 10 minutes to firm up the dough again.

Place the pie on the parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 80 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is slowly bubbling up and thickened.  About 40 minutes into the baking, you'll need to cover the edges of the pie with foil to keep them from over-browning while the center bakes and browns.

Set the pie on a wire rack to cool completely, preferably 6-8 hours, before cutting.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

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