Star-Spangled Blueberry Pie
An all-American pie classic, bursting with blueberry flavor and bedecked with stars. You can make this any time of year with blueberries either straight from the freezer or fresh.
Visit People Like Pie, the cooking class that inspired this recipe, for more information and tips on making fruit pies.
Adapted from the recipe for Blueberry Pie created by the brilliant folks at America's Test Kitchen.
Makes one 9-inch pie.
6 cups frozen blueberries (not thawed), or fresh blueberries
2 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 Granny Smith apple
3/4 cup sugar, plus another 1-2 Tablespoons for dusting the pie
1 medium lemon
A pinch of coarse salt
1 recipe (2 disks) Pâte Brisée pie crust pastry, cold
Flour for rolling out pastry
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
1. Warm half the blueberries in a saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbling. Once they begin to simmer, adjust the heat as necessary to keep them simmering and prevent them from burning (usually medium-high for frozen berries, and medium for fresh berries).
For frozen berries: cook at a strong simmer for about 12-15 minutes, until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups.
For fresh berries: simmer over medium heat, using a potato masher to gently crush them, for about 8 minutes, until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups.
Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Use a spice grinder, a small food processor or a mortar and pestle to grind the tapioca into a powder.
3. Remove the skin from the apple and use the large holes on a box grater to grate the apple flesh down to the core. Place the grated apple into a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much juice as you can (you can discard or drink the juice!).
4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked berries, remaining uncooked berries, tapioca, grated apple, 3/4 cup sugar and a generous pinch of coarse salt.
5. Use a microplane or zester to remove the zest of the lemon and add it to the bowl. Cut the lemon in half and juice it; add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to the bowl. Mix to thoroughly combine, and set aside.
6. Remove one disk of Pâte Brisée from the refrigerator and roll it into a circle about 13 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick. Transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate, fitting it into the inside corners of the plate and allowing any extra pastry to hang over the edges. Pour the blueberry mixture into the pastry and smooth the top to form an even surface.
7. Use kitchen shears or very clean scissors to trim the pastry overhang to about 1 inch. Coat your fingers lightly with flour, then carefully fold the pastry backward, so that it is flush with the edge of the pie plate. Press the edges down gently all the way around to form a flat surface. Use the tines of a fork or the flat edge of a table knife to make an attractive pattern around the edge. Transfer the pie plate into the refrigerator to rest.
8. Move the oven rack to the lowest position and put a rimmed baking sheet in the oven on the lowest rack. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the egg with 1 Tablespoon of water to make an egg wash.
9. Roll the second disk of Pâte Brisée to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. For the star-spangled pattern, use a large star-shaped cookie cutter to cut stars from the pastry, rerolling scraps to cut more stars as needed. For the design in the picture, we used 13 large stars (about 4 inches diameter), plus 19 small stars (about 1 1/2 inches diameter).
10. Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator. Cut the butter into small pieces (if using), and distribute them evenly over the surface of the blueberries. Arrange the first layer of large stars around the edge of the pie in a slightly overlapping pattern, being sure to completely cover the outer edge of blueberries and slightly overlap the crust around the edge, leaving no spaces between stars. Use the remaining large stars to cover the middle of the pie. This time, leave small spaces around the edges of the stars to allow steam to escape during cooking (see picture). Remember that the pastry will shrink back a bit during cooking. Brush all the stars with egg wash. Add small stars on top of the larger ones in an appealing pattern, being careful not to obstruct the steam vent gaps you have created. Brush the small stars with egg wash and sprinkle the entire pastry with 1-2 Tablespoons of sugar.
11. Place the pie on the hot baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another 30-40 minutes. If you find that the outer edge is browning too fast for the rest of the top crust, cover the outer edge with aluminum foil and return the pie to the oven. The pie is done when the crust is uniformly golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling inside.
12. The hardest part: allow the finished pie to cool on a rack for 4 hours before cutting into it, to allow enough time for the blueberry filling to set up. This will ensure it does not run all over and make a mess when you cut into it. (In one of our test pies, we couldn't wait and had a bit of a delicious mess on our hands.)