Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Blueberry Pie

Photograph by Jeff Kubina on Flickr

This week I am attempting to conquer my fear of baking by diving head first into a pie-baking extravaganza courtesy of Mollie Cox Bryan's comprehensive pie bible, Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies. I chose my first pie project based on two factors—simplicity and availability of ingredients (namely those I had on hand Sunday morning).

I figured that vinegar pie crust was a good beginner crust since the introduction to the recipe billed it as being easy to work with, forgiving, and easily patchable. I'd never experimented with vegetable shortening in a pie crust before, and it was a bit of a revelation. The soft shortening allows the crust to come together much easier and faster than butter. The vinegar in the recipe acts as a stabilizer, and the crust had no sour taste at all. It rolled out like a dream come true, no patching necessary.

Earlier this week at the farmers' market, I was seduced by some beautifully plump blueberries—there was my filling. The filling seemed simple enough: berries, flour, sugar, butter, lemon juice, and some cinnamon. I realized a bit too late that I didn't have any lemons, so I substituted lime juice. Other than that I followed all of the instructions exactly. Everything looked great, picture perfect, in fact, and the pie went into the oven. The second the pie was finished I had to run to work, and wait an agonizing 8 hours to find out how my beautiful pie tasted.

It was well after midnight before I was able to cut into my pie, and I was pretty nervous. How was it? Well, the crust lacked the rich dairy flavor of a butter-based crust but tasted pretty great and the texture was pleasingly flakey. The filling was fantastic. The blueberries kept their integrity and popped as you bit into them. The lime juice did the trick for adding a bit of tartness and although I was a bit skeptical about the combination of cinnamon and blueberries, it totally worked. I can honestly say that this is my first successfully executed pie. Thanks, Mrs. Rowe!

Win 'Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies'

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Barcelona Cookbook to give away this week.

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