Chef Stephanie Cmar, one of Bravo’s Top Chef All Stars and creator of My Sh*tty Little Kitchen cooking series, has bestowed upon us a blueberry pie worth actually making dough for. If you have come across any of my other pie recipes, you know that I am a shameless advocate for the frozen crusts, but the fact is that extra bit of elbow grease (along with four sticks of butter) will give you layers of flake worth celebrating. Her dough is perfect and she doesn’t over complicate it. It bakes into a beautiful golden color, and is seasoned just right. So, let’s get ready to ring in this “holiday” the best way we know how: start the oven.
Chef Cmar is a resident of Maine so she uses wild Maine blueberries, of course. If you reside in any of the other 49 states, you should still scope out your grocery store for them because they are special and it’s nice to have nice things. That said, any other fresh blueberries, or even frozen for that matter, will still bubble and ooze just as well. My thoughts are this: if you’re opting out of frozen crusts, fresh fruit seems in line with your trajectory. I prefer fresh fruit because I choose to believe that they have a better mouthfeel. This isn’t mathematically determined, but I’ll stand on that hill. If you however, ride for frozen berries, blessed be the fruit.
My suggestion is to prepare the dough earlier in the day, or even the night before, as it requires at least two hours in the fridge. This will allow the gluten strands some time to relax, making it easier to roll out, and cutting down on any potential shrinkage in the oven. You will also want to ensure your butter stays as cold as possible during the dough making process, as you grate it into the flour mixture. This helps to build better layers when baked, which is the whole goal here so don’t screw that bit up. Maybe even use frozen sticks of butter if it’s going to take you a while to grate through them all. I find using a couple latex gloves doubled up, in an attempt to have a little more distance from body temperature, is helpful too.
This is a feel good filling-it’s pure of heart and essentially, unadulterated. A touch of acid begins to brighten the berries, and a bit of added sugar starts macerating out the natural juices – pie magic is already at work even before it enters the oven. Thrilling!
Stephanie suggests layering the top crust in a full sheet like disk and slitting holes to vent, as opposed to latticing. I like a pie with full coverage, too. If you’re feeling bougie, sprinkle a touch of Sugar in the Raw post egg wash, it will bake into a shimmering, glittery top coat, which is a charming effect, with little effort.
In about 40-50 minutes you will be equipped with a real life, fully functional pie chart!
1. Place flour, salt, sugar and grated butter in a big mixing bowl.
2. Rub the flour and butter together between the tips of your finger until the fat is worked into the flour and looks like oats.
3. Add cold water and blend quickly with one hand, fingers held together and slightly cupped as you rapidly gather the dough into a mass.
4. Sprinkle up to 2 tablespoons more water on any of the remaining bits and add to the main body of the dough. Press the dough firmly into a ball.
5. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and with the heel of your hand push the dough away from you so it smears across the board. Knead until it comes together in a nice ball. Split into two balls! (One for each side of pie.) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
6. Roll out dough into a 35cm disk, and press into pie tin. Stephanie recommends sandwiching the dough between two sheets of parchment to do so, for an easier and smoother rolling process.
7. Blind bake (or pre-bake) the bottom shell only at 400 degrees for 8-20 minutes or until the dough is set. Remove and let cool.
1. Wash berries and stir in flour, salt and sugar. Sprinkle with some lemon juice to taste. Set aside.
2. Pre-heat oven to 200°. Roll out remaining dough into a 30cm disk.
3. Pour berries into bottom, pre-baked crust. Scatter dots of butter over berries. Place the 30cm disk on top. Using a sharp knife, make three slashes in the top crust to let steam escape. (Make it look pretty, you’ve worked hard.) Crimp to seal. Brush with the egg wash.
4. Bake until the crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, about 40-50 minutes. Let cool.
A REMINDER FROM STEPHANIE: “Don’t forget to put your pie on a sheet tray before baking it. Your fire alarms and neighbours will thank you later.”