When we moved to California in the 1980s, blueberry pie was a special treat. Faced with the reality of American suburban life with three kids under the age of 7, my mom did not have time for pie. But if we were lucky, when we went to Sandy B’s house to swim, she’d serve us blueberry pie. It was always open-faced, with some of the blueberries cooked with a little cornstarch to let the juices gel.
In high school, when I took it upon myself to learn the craft of making butter-based crust, I favored double-crust pies for all fruit pies—mainly because it’s hard to beat the buttery, savory edge of a top crust lightly dusted with sugar. Recently, though, I’ve been getting all nostalgic for the texture of Sandy B’s original, with the mochi chewiness of its filling.
Hence this recipe. Sandy B found it a year or so ago and sent it to me—the original was probably from a newspaper or a Betty Crocker cookbook—and I’ve since made a few modifications. The trick is dividing the berries in half, cooking only half of them. (Next time around, I think I'll add an extra cup of blueberries to give the filling more oomph.) Before putting the blueberries in the fully-baked crust, just fold the remaining berries into the mix. I added some cornmeal to the crust because blueberries and cornmeal are great together, but it’s optional—regular flour is just fine, too.
Since the blueberry filling is cooked on the stove, it doesn't need to be baked. So the pie crust needs to be fully baked ahead of time. I blind-baked the pie crust (see photos below), weighing the crust down with foil and beans, for about 25 minutes. Then I lifted out the foil and baked the crust until light golden brown.
You can use any fully-baked crust you'd like for this recipe, or you can make the crust below and follow the instructions for blind-baking it. The blueberry filling is cooked on the stove, so once it's added to the crust, it doesn't need to go back in the oven.
makes 1 pie
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 tablespoons ice water
- 4 cups blueberries, picked through to remove any stems
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Lemon zest (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and, using your hands, squish the butter between your thumbs and index fingers. (Alternatively, use a pastry cutter to “cut” the butter into the flour.)
Pour the water over the flour and gently incorporate it, pressing the mixture down into the bottom of the bowl and folding it on top of itself until it forms a cohesive dough. If it is really dry and you can’t get the dough to stick together, add another tablespoon of ice water. Dust a surface with a little flour.
Pat the dough into a patty about the size of a large hamburger about 6 inches in diameter. Get it as round as possible; it makes your life easier when you’re rolling it out. At this point, you should see swirls of butter in the dough, but the dough should be cohesive and stay together. It won’t be crumbly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 5 days.
On a floured work surface, use your fingertips to pat the patty to flatten it a bit. Roll the dough out, rotating it a quarter turn often to keep it from sticking, until it’s roughly shaped into a 13-inch circle. Fold the dough into quarters, dusting off any excess flour.
Put the dough into a 9-inch pie pan and unfold. Trim off any excess dough with scissors or a sharp paring knife, leaving about a 1-inch overhand. Fold the overhang under and pinch together, crimping the edges. Pierce the base with a fork several times. Chill the shell for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 350F.
For this pie, you will want to blind bake the crust. Put a large sheet of aluminum foil over the crust and push it gently into the base and sides of the pan. Add something to weigh down the foil. (I use dry beans.) Tuck the foil ends slightly over the weights to make it easy to remove later.
Bake the crust for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the sides and base are lightly golden. If the crust starts to puff up, use a fork to pierce the crust and deflate it a bit. Let the crust cool to room temperature.
Put half of the blueberries in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water.
When the sugar has dissolved and the blueberry juices are starting to run free, stir in the cornstarch slurry thoroughly and cook for 2 minutes or until the cornstarch starts to thicken the blueberry juices. Stir in the remaining blueberries and grate lemon zest directly into the pan.
Pour the filling into the baked shell, smoothing down the surface. Let set up at room temperature for 2 hours before serving. The pie keeps at room temperature for 1 day or up to 3 days if refrigerated.