Perfect Blueberry Pie made with Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
The perfect blueberry pie is just the right amount of sweet and tart, bursting with fresh blueberry flavor, covered in a flaky, tender, sugary crust, and easy to slice and serve.
When I first started really learning how to bake in my early 20’s, I thought I didn’t really like to bake pie. I was obsessed with learning everything there is to know about baking cakes, cookies, muffins, bread, even laminated pastries like croissants and danishes. But, something about pie crust turned me off.
To be clear, I was not opposed to eating pie. Just baking it. In retrospect, I don’t know why this odd distain for baking pies got lodged in my brain, and I can’t really pinpoint when it began to change for me. But, at some point over the past 15 years or so, I began to understand the true pleasure of baking a pie.
The Pleasure of Baking a Pie
“When you bake a pie, you are in the kitchen in the company of ghosts.” – In the South, Cake or Pie for Dessert? (NY Times)
I feel this way about a lot of recipes. I’ve never baked a loaf of banana bread without thinking of my mom. And, baking a batch of giant oatmeal cookies or jam thumbprint cookies is the only thing to do when I’m missing my grandparents.
Baking is a uniquely personal way of connecting us to our past in a tangible way. Memories are precious, valuable, and also difficult to hang onto without tangible reminders.
Memories fade much too quickly without being given something to hold on to. And so, we attach them to people, places and things. We treasure objects that remind us of a person, place, or snapshot in time and love to reminisce with those who share our past. And, for many of us, it’s one of the reasons we love to bake.
I think pie is one of those things that most people have a story about.
They tell me about the pie crust recipe that’s connected generation after generation of family bakers, or about how they used to pick berries with their mother every summer then go home and bake a pie, or about how Thanksgiving would simply not be the same without Aunt so-and-so’s Pumpkin or Apple Pie.
When we carve out a few precious hours to stand in the kitchen and bake these pies, we are indeed in the company of ghosts. It’s comforting and real, and connects our past to our present with precious solidity.
At least, this is what baking a pie is for me now. Baking a pie, and sharing the recipe, links my past, present, and future. It offers me time to remember the pies my mother and grandmother baked when I was a child. And, it gives me something to pass on to my own children so they can do the same.
How to Bake a Perfect Blueberry Pie
In my opinion, a perfect blueberry pie has a concentrated, bright fruit flavor that holds its shape when sliced. To achieve a deliciously sliceable consistency without interfering with the flavor or texture, I like to use a combination of tapioca and cornstarch. The combination allows me to take advantage of the thickening power of each kind of starch without any of the drawbacks.
Too much cornstarch can make fruit pie filling cloudy and give it a slightly chalky taste. Tapioca creates a berry filling that is bright and clear, but can sometimes result in a gluey consistency. Combining smaller amounts of both cornstarch and tapioca is a great solution, creating a glossy, luxuriously silky filling that holds its shape when sliced.
But, before adding the tapioca or cornstarch, the first thing you need to do is get those blueberries to release some of their juice so you have something to thicken! There are several ways to do this.
In my favorite Mixed Berry and Plum Pie, I like to let the juice drain from the berries, then thicken it separately before adding the fruit back in. This method helps to keep super delicate berries like raspberries somewhat intact through the baking process.
With blueberry pie, I prefer to cook half the berries first, breaking some of them up to create a super flavorful, concentrated blueberry syrup. This allows the tapioca and cornstarch to thicken all that yummy syrup, suspending the remaining whole blueberries in sliceable pieces of pie that aren’t runny.
The end result is a mixture of rich, thick blueberry filling peppered throughout with whole blueberries as opposed to a fruit filling that runs all over the place the second you slice it.
A few thoughts about the pie crust…
This recipe calls for my tried-and-true favorite pie crust, appropriately named Fool Proof Pie Crust. It’s the crust I’ve been making for over 2 decades and it is, truly, fool proof thanks to two “secret” ingredients: vinegar and an egg.
Vinegar interferes with the formation of gluten in flour, which tenderizes the dough. In most pie crust recipes, you must take extreme care to not overwork the dough so that you don’t activate the gluten in the flour and create a tough dough. In Fool Proof Pie Crust, the vinegar does a great job of guarding against gluten development so that you get a super tender and flaky crust every single time.
The egg in Fool Proof Pie Crust makes the dough more pliable and easy to roll out. The dough is quite elastic and rarely breaks, and when it does, it’s super easy to stretch and press the dough as needed to cover the inside of a pie plate or the top of a pie.
That said, if you have a favorite pie crust recipe, please use that. Pie crust is often one of those things we were talking about earlier – a tangible connection to the past.
Regardless of what pie crust you use, giving the top a sprinkle of sugar is a must. That gorgeous sugary top not only looks pretty, it adds a lovely sweet crunch to every single bite.
More favorite Fruit Pie Recipes:
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #ofbatteranddough on Instagram.
- 1 recipe Fool Proof Pie Crust, chilled for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator
- 1/4 cup minute tapioca pearls – OR tapioca flour/ starch (*see note)
- 8 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulate sugar, plus 2 tbsp more for sprinkling over the top crust
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- If using tapioca pearls, add them to the bowl of a food processor (a small one works best) or spice of coffee grinder. Process until the tapioca is powdery and set aside. (*See note)
- Add 4 cups of the blueberries to a medium size, heavy bottom sauce pan along with the lemon juice and granulated sugar. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, while stirring frequently. When the mixture begins to simmer, turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, for 8 minutes, until the juice from the mashed blueberries has thickened slightly. As you stir, mash some of the berries on the side of the pan to break some of them up.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in all of the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 4 cups of blueberries, except the vanilla and egg. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes to soften the tapioca.
- Return the saucepan to medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. Let simmer for 3-5 minuets, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tbsp of cold water and set aside.
- Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator. On a floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough to a 12-inch circle that’s about ⅛-inch thick. Using a large spatula, gently loosen the dough from the work top, fold it in half and then fold it in half again. It will form a triangle shape. Lift the crust and place it in a pie plate with the point of the triangle in the center of the plate. Gently unfold the dough in the pan and press into the corners gently. Leave any dough that overlaps the edges of the plate in place.
- Pour the blueberry pie filling into the pie crust.
- Roll another portion of the pie dough into another 12 inch circle, about ⅛ inch thick. Just as you did with the bottom crust, using a large spatula, gently loosen the dough from the work top, fold it in half and then fold it in half again. Lift the crust and place it on the top of the pie with the point of the triangle in the center. Gently unfold the dough to cover the blueberry filling completely.
- Trim the edges of the crust so that you have about a half of an inch hanging over the pie plate. Fold the edges under, forming a rim around the pie that is higher than the pie plate. With one hand on the inside of the edge and one hand on the outside, use the index finger of your inside hand to push the dough between the thumb and index finger of your other hand to form a U or a V shape. Continue this crimping motion around the entire edge.
- Gently brush the egg wash over the top crust with a pastry brush and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. With a sharp knife, cut 5 slits, evenly spaced to form a circle, in the top pie crust.
- Put the pie on a baking sheet (to catch any drips) and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375, rotate the pie in the oven and bake for an additional 30-45 minutes. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the filling in the center of the pie is bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack, about 4-6 hours, before slicing.
- Tapioca flour/ starch is essentially the same thing as ground quick-cooking tapioca pearls. So, use which ever you prefer.
Keywords: pie, blueberry, blueberry pie, fruit pie, summer recipe
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