I play question games with Hubby (and anyone else that’s willing). When we play, I ask random questions. Questions like:
‘If you were going to be locked in an underground shelter for 25 years and were told to just bring one book, one DVD and one CD (sorry, no iPods allowed), what would you choose?’
‘If you were to host a dinner party, who are the five people you’d want around the table (from any point in time)?’
Those kinds of questions. Hubby’s a good sport about them and we have a lot of fun going back and forth on the thirteen-hour trips to visit the ‘northern’ grandparents.
In case you’re curious, I’d bring The Stand (by Stephen King), Last of the Mohicans (the version with Daniel Day Lewis) and Dark Side of the Moon (by Pink Floyd).
I play the game when I’m by myself too. I did today as I worked my way through the double-page spread of instructions for Fine Cooking’s Classic Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie. The main question that ran through my head was:
If you could go back in time and ask one person a question, what would it be?
You’d think the answer would be that I’d want to talk to John Wilkes-Booth, Adolf Hitler or someone else whose decision had a large ripple effect on the world. Most times I would. Today was a different matter. Today, as I pieced together strips of pie crust that kept breaking apart; as I tried to keep the strips at equal distances from each other, as I overlapped piece by piece, gently molding them back together when they broke, my question kept coming to mind.
Dear person who invented the lattice-top pie crust; Why?
Making the pie crust dough; piece of cake. I love the use of lemon juice in the dough. What a great way to infuse citrus throughout the whole dessert.
Making the filling; even easier. Mashing some of the berries with the flour to make a paste that then coats the remaining berries? Genius.
Lattice-top pies and I will never be friends. But I have to admit that Fine Cooking tried their hardest to get the two of us together. Be warned that as with any crust, things need to be cold so there’s a bunch of refrigeration time and waiting for an hour or two.
The lattice-top. I read a comment on this recipe at Fine Cooking’s site in which the writer said she bypassed the Fine Cooking’s method and went with her tried-and-true; making the lattice directly on top of the pie instead of on parchment paper and then transferring it over. That’s the only way I’ve ever done it myself. And I have to tell you, my lattice top never looked this good before.
I fully expected an epic failure as I flipped the parchment over onto the pie and was too stunned to do my regular happy dance when it came out . . . perfectly. It looked great.
Wow, oh wow, oh wow. This pie is fantastic. The crust is perfect as a dessert by itself (just ask Dudette; it was her favorite part), but the blueberry filling was also delicious. Hubby claims it’s the best blueberry pie he’s ever had and I’m not far behind him.
The berries were picked by me just yesterday, but that had nothing to do with the consistency being perfect; the pie holding together like it did when cut and the crust being out-of-this-world delicious. It’s a great recipe and we’re sold.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I would start a trend; berry pies without a top crust. Kidding. Wouldn’t change a thing.
- 12 oz. (2-2/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. table salt
- 6 oz. (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
- 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) frozen vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
- 5 Tbs. ice-cold water
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 oz. (1/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbs.
- Juice (from 1 medium lemon)
- Big pinch table salt
- 6 cups (30 oz.) fresh blueberries, rinsed and thoroughly dried
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbs. coarse sugar, such as turbinado or white sanding sugar
- Make the dough:
- Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the pieces are slightly larger than pea-size, 10 to 12 pulses. Drizzle the water and lemon juice evenly over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs that just begin to clump together, 8 or 9 more pulses.
- Dump the moist crumbs onto two large overlapping pieces of plastic wrap and gather into a pile. With the heel of your hand, push and gently smear the dough away from you, rotating the plastic so you smear a different section each time, until the crumbs come together; 2 or 3 smears should do it. Divide the dough in half (about 12 oz. for each piece); shape one piece into a 5-inch disk and the other into a 4x6-inch rectangle. Wrap each tightly in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days (or freeze for up to 1 month).
- Make the lattice top crust: Position a rack in the center of the oven and set a foil-lined heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Heat the oven to 425°F.
- Remove the rectangle of dough from the refrigerator; if it’s very firm, let it sit at room temperature until it’s pliable enough to roll, 10 to 20 minutes. (If the disk of dough is also very firm, let it sit at room temperature while you make the lattice.)
- On lightly floured parchment, roll the dough with a floured rolling pin into a 9-1/2 x14-1/2-inch rectangle that’s ⅛ inch thick. Roll from the center of the dough to the edges and try to use as few passes as possible to avoid overworking the dough. After every few passes, run an offset spatula or bench knife under the dough to be sure it isn’t sticking, and give the dough a quarter turn. Reflour the parchment and the rolling pin only as needed—excess flour can make the crust tough.
- Using a fluted pastry wheel or a chef’s knife, trim the dough into a 9x14-inch rectangle. With the wheel or knife, cut 12 strips of dough that are 14-inches long and ¾-inch wide. If at any point while making the lattice the dough becomes too soft to work with, slide the parchment onto a cookie sheet and chill the dough until firm.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Arrange 6 of the dough strips horizontally ¾-inch apart; these will be the “bottom” strips.
- Fold back every other bottom strip to the left slightly more than halfway. Slightly left of center, lay down one “top” strip vertically over the bottom strips, dabbing the bottom strips with a wet finger where the top strip will overlap them. Dab the top strip where the folded strips will overlap it, then unfold the strips. Fold back the other 3 bottom strips to the left. Lay a second top strip ¾-inch to the right of the first, dabbing with water as before. These are the two center strips. Unfold the bottom strips. Repeat the process on both sides with the remaining top strips of dough.
- Press gently where the strips overlap to seal. Loosely cover the lattice with plastic wrap and refrigerate on the cookie sheet while you roll out the bottom crust and make the filling.
- Roll and shape the bottom crust: On lightly floured parchment, roll the disk of dough into a 14-1/2-inch circle that’s ⅛ inch thick.
- Carefully and gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and position the pin over a 9-inch glass pie plate. Unroll, easing the dough into the pan. Gently press the dough against the side and bottom of the pan, being careful not to stretch or tear it, and allowing the excess dough to hang over the edges. Let sit at room temperature while assembling the filling.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, lemon zest and juice, and salt. Add 1 cup of the blueberries and crush them into the dry ingredients with a potato masher or fork to make a paste. Add the rest of the berries and toss to coat. Scrape the filling into the crust with a rubber spatula, spreading evenly.
- Assemble and bake the pie: Remove the lattice from the refrigerator. If it’s stiff, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Put your palm under the parchment at the center of the lattice. Lift the paper and invert the lattice onto the filling in a swift, smooth motion. Press the top and bottom edges together and trim both crusts so there’s about a ¾-inch overhang. Roll the overhang under itself to form a high edge of crust that rests on the rim of the pie plate. Using your fingers, crimp the dough into a fluted edge.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg and 1 Tbs. water until blended. Using a small pastry brush, brush the egg mixture evenly over the lattice and edge, and then sprinkle generously with the coarse sugar.
- Put the pie on the heated baking sheet and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake until the edges are pale golden, about 30 minutes, then cover the edges with foil and continue to bake until the lattice is golden-brown and the filling is bubbling about 2-inches from the center, 80 to 90 minutes total. (If the lattice is golden-brown before the filling is bubbling, cover it loosely with foil.)
- Let the pie cool on a rack to room temperature, about 3 hours, before serving. It’s best eaten on the day it’s made, but you can make it up to 1 day ahead and store it, covered when cool, at room temperature. Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.