A cooked blueberry barely resembles its fresh predecessor, and yet both are revered. I grew up picking blue huckleberries.
On family camping trips in huckleberry country, Mom would send us out with a can to pick some huckleberries for morning pancakes. As much as she liked huckleberries, I now wonder if it was also an excuse to get us out from underfoot.
As kids, we also picked a lot of blueberries at a farm along the Sammamish River.
With recycled paint pails tied around our waists with twine, we easily stripped the branches, hearing the blueberries plop, plop, plop into our pails. The picking was fast, and we were soon home washing and freezing them for pie later in the year.
There are many varieties of blueberries here in Washington, such as Elliott, Last Call, Titan, and Vernon. I covet the petite varieties—maybe because they look and taste more like huckleberries. Varieties ripen throughout the summer, allowing the season to extend longer than just a few weeks in July.
Possibly the best characteristic of blueberries is the ease with which they are washed and frozen, so you’d be smart to freeze as many as possible during the season.
I think blueberry pie is a truly American dessert, maybe because blueberry tends to satisfy most palates. Remember that berry pies need to cool completely before serving in order to set the filling. I like my pie to slump slightly when it’s cut. If it stands up straight, “Too much thickener.” Great berry pies are full of berries and just enough thickener to hold them together.
Makes 6 servings Classic Lattice Blueberry
- 1 recipe Flaky Pie Dough (this page)
- 7 cups (about 1.25 kg) blueberries, fresh or frozen
- ¾ cup (150 g) sugar, plus extra for finishing
- ⅓ cup (74 g) cornstarch (see note, this page)
- ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped, or ½ teaspoon ground vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons whole milk, for finishing
- Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Steps to prepare Classic Lattice Blueberry
1. Prepare the pie dough.
2. Combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla bean pulp, and salt in a large bowl. Toss until the vanilla is distributed and all the fruit is coated with sugar and cornstarch.
3. Roll out the bottom crust to about ⅛ inch thick and line a 9-inch pie pan. (See How to Roll Pastry [Pie] Dough, this page.) Trim the edge of the bottom crust with scissors or a knife to ¼ inch over the edge of the pie pan. Toss the blueberry filling a few more times to pick up sugar sitting on the bottom of the bowl, and spoon the blueberry filling into the pie pan, mounding the berries 1 to 2 inches above the edge of the pie pan. Break up the butter in nickel-size pieces and distribute over the top of the berries. (If you have extra sugar and cornstarch at the bottom of the bowl, just sprinkle it over the top of the berries in the pie pan.)
4. To construct the lattice crust, roll out the top crust to no less than ⅛ inch thick. Using a pastry wheel or knife, quickly cut the top crust into ¾-inch strips. Starting on the left side of the pie, place one of the shorter strips just inside the edge of the pie over the filling. Now take the next strip of dough and place it perpendicular to the first strip and across the top end of the pie. Now the trick is to continue going back and forth, one strip down, one strip across as you move across the pie, leaving about a ¼-inch space between strips so that the blueberry filling shows through. To get a nice weave, you will need to lift the strips that are running under the previous strips (that’s half the strips, or every other strip), and fold them back to the left or top before placing the next strip. Then unfold the strips over the new strip and do the same across the top of the pie. Continue this process until all the pie is covered with lattice.
5. Trim the lattice edges to ¼ inch over the edge of the pie plate. Pick up the overhanging edges, and turn them under all the way around the pie, pressing the ends of each strip of dough onto the rim of the pie pan, or just inside the pie pan if your pan doesn’t have a flat edge. Crimp the edge with a fork or between your fingers to create a seal and a pretty edge.
6. Chill the finished pie in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking. While the pie is chilling, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
7. The pie crust should be firm before going into the oven. (Freezing the pie keeps the dough from melting before it bakes and helps achieve a baked crust on the bottom.) Before baking, brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle sugar over the top, if desired.
8. Bake the pie for 20 minutes or until the top of the pie is dry and just starting to color. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes more, or until the pie is brown and bubbling. The pie should be golden on top, and you should be able to hear or see the juices bubbling in the middle of the pie. It’s OK if some fruit juices bubble out of the pie.
9. It’s especially important to cool a berry pie to room temperature before serving. A little vanilla ice cream doesn’t hurt either.