Deep Dish Blueberry Pie

The same diner-type restaurant in New York that had the incredible cheese blintzes I wrote about here also serves just about every other type of comfort food you can imagine. Grilled cheese sandwiches, soups, burgers, cheesecake, and of course, pie. 

This pie didn't come from an attempt to re-create some wonderful pie I ate at that restaurant, though. In fact, I never ate pie there. This pie comes from finding a cookbook for said restaurant and just reading the title of the recipe, "Deep Dish Blueberry Pie." 

Hello, my new best friend.

I love blueberries, and for me, the filling of a pie is the best part. I sometimes even eat around the crust if I'm starting to feel full. (Usually a clue to just stop eating, but when it comes to pie, sometimes you just have to make sacrifices.) The idea of a deep dish blueberry pie, then, was music to my ears. An extra thick slice of sweetened fresh blueberries? Where do I sign up? Finding this recipe also coincided with a big sale on blueberries at my local grocery store. I think the heavens were telling me I needed to start baking.

Happily for me, deep dish blueberry pie is as delicious as it sounds. Served warm or cold, with ice cream or plain, the blueberry flavor was nice and strong. I like that the spices weren't over-powering but were definitely noticeable. And, of course, I loved that each slice was so full of thick filling. In fact, I still picked around the crust and ate about 2 pieces worth of filling when I first cut into it. 

Poor crust. You just can't compare to the blueberry filling you contain.

For those who have baked a blueberry pie before, you probably already know that you need some hefty thickening agents for the filling because blueberries are so juicy. This recipe uses a combination of tapioca and cornstarch, which makes for a nice, thick filling. Quick cooking tapioca is usually found near the pudding mixes in the grocery store. I find that it works better to mix it into the filling and let sit for 10 minutes or so before filling the pie so that the tapioca can start to dissolve. As it is, you are still likely to see some little cooked tapioca balls in your cooked pie filling. They don't taste like anything and the texture isn't a problem, but if that sounds horrid to you, you might want to try another recipe. Just giving you fair warning. I happen to like using tapioca as a thickener, but I think there are people very strongly in the cornstarch camp and that's just fine. 

Deep Dish Blueberry Pie

1 recipe pie pastry, enough for a double crust pie

For the blueberry filling:
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooking tapioca
3 T cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
8 cups fresh blueberries, picked over for stems and bruises
2 T fresh lemon juice
3 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the glaze:
1 extra-large egg yolk
1/4 tsp vegetable oil

1. Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Make you pie crust, roll out half of it 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface, and trim to a 15-inch circle. Transfer the pastry to the pie plate, leaving a 1 1/2 inch overhang. Place the pastry shell and the rest of the pastry in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

2. Mix the granulated sugar, brown sugar, tapioca, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

3. Mix the blueberries and lemon juice together in a large bowl. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the berries and toss until all the berries are well coated. Let stand for 5-10 minutes. (I find this helps to get the tapioca to thicken better once the pie is cooked.)

4. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the over to 425 degrees. Spoon the berry filling into the pie shell, mounding it high in the center. (If some of the tapioca mixture looks like it is clumping at the bottom of the bowl and not mixing well with the blueberries, just don't transfer it to the pie. It is in excess of what you need to thicken the pie.) Dot the filling with the butter pieces.

5. Roll out the remaining pastry 1/8 inch thick and trim to a 13 inch circle. Using the tip of a paring knife, cut out a 3/4 inch circle of pastry in the center of the pastry round for the steam vent. (Or cut slits in the finished pie if you prefer.) Transfer the pastry circle to the top of the pie. Moisten the edges of the pastry with a little ice water, fold the edges under, and pinch them to seal. Shape the edge of the pastry to stand up 1 inch high, then flute.

6. To make the glaze, whisk the egg yolk with the oil and brush on the top of the pie. Bake the pie for 10 minutes at 425.

7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and continue baking until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly, 50 minutes to 1 hour. (I like to cover my pie after 20 minutes or so of baking so the crust doesn't get too browned.) Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Recipe Source: adapted from Welcome To Juniors: Remembering Brooklyn with Recipes and Memories from its Favorite Restaurant.

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