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Fresh Blueberry Pie

Time 5 hours, largely unattended
Yields Serves 8 to 12
Fresh, raw blueberries pile into a crisp pastry crust and get a blanket of whipped cream in this refreshing summer berry pie.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)
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This pie slices like a dream and tastes like a fresh version of a blueberry Pop-Tart in the best way. Do yourself a favor and bake the crust a day ahead so you can make the filling the morning of the day you want to serve it, and the process will be stress-free. This pie is ideal for using smaller, farmers market blueberries — especially the teeny wild ones from Maine, if you can get your hands on them — but I tested with large supermarket berries too, and they work great. If you prefer a graham cracker crust, omit the pastry ingredients and steps and, instead, make the crust from the Fresh Raspberry Pie. Proceed with the recipe and fill it with the blueberry filling.

Pastry Crust
Blueberry Filling
1

Make the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and use your fingers to pinch and rub it into the flour repeatedly until pea-size crumbles form. Pour in 1/3 cup ice-cold water and use a fork to toss (not stir) the butter-flour mixture until it’s evenly moistened. Scrape the crumbly mass onto a clean work surface and pat and smoosh gently until it starts to form a solid piece of dough. Flatten it into a disk, patting the edges to smooth them, then wrap the disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

2

Unwrap the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, flatten the dough into an 1/8-inch-thick, 11-inch-diameter circle. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, then unravel it over a 9-inch metal or glass pie pan, letting it fall into the bottom and up the side (do not push the dough into the bottom and sides).

3

Using kitchen shears, trim the dough around the perimeter so you have 1/2 inch of overhanging pastry. Lift the edge and fold it under itself to form a double-thick border of pastry all the way around the edge of the pie pan. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edge, then use the tines of a fork to lightly prick the bottom and sides of the dough all over. Transfer the pie pan to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes.

4

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Take a 15-inch square sheet of parchment paper and crumple it into a ball. Carefully unravel the ball, avoiding tearing it, and re-flatten it. Press the sheet over the frozen pie crust, then pour 4 cups of pie weights (dried beans or dry rice work too) on top of it to flatten the sheet against the crust and fill the pie plate. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake the crust until the edges turn light brown, about 25 minutes.

5

Remove the pie pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Carefully lift the corners of the parchment sheet up to remove it and the weights and set aside to cool. Return the pie pan on the sheet to the oven and continue baking until the pastry is golden brown on the bottom, 10 to 15 minutes more. Transfer the pie plate to a rack to cool while you make the pie filling.

6

Make the filling: Reserve 1/3 cup of the blueberries, then place the remaining berries in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in the filtered water until smooth, then add the reserved 1/3 cup blueberries. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring steadily with the whisk, until the mixture bubbles and thickens to the consistency of a very stiff gel, 3 to 4 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring vigorously with the whisk to crush the berries, until the gel is colored dark magenta, 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla while hot.

7

Scrape the gel over the berries in the bowl, then use a large rubber or silicone spatula to gently fold the berries with the gel until fully coated. Immediately spoon the blueberry filling into the cooled pie crust, mounding it up slightly (after removing each spoonful of berries, gently re-stir the berries in the bowl to ensure the gel stays evenly mixed with them). Smooth the top of the berries and let the pie cool while you whip the cream.

8

Either by hand or using an electric mixer, beat the cream and powdered sugar, if using, in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Pile the whipped cream on top of the filling and spread it evenly over the pie. Transfer the pie to the refrigerator and chill at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight, until fully set. Cut the pie with a serrated knife and serve chilled.

Kitchen Note
To clean the berries for this pie, combine 6 cups cold water with 2 cups distilled white vinegar in a large bowl. Place the berries in a colander that will fit in the bowl, then dip the colander of berries in the vinegar solution (this kills off mold or bacteria). Swish them around gently with your fingers, then let them sit for 1 minute. Lift the colander to drain the berries and discard the vinegar solution. Fill the bowl with fresh cold water (no vinegar this time) and repeat the process once more to rinse off any vinegar left on the berries. Transfer the drained berries to paper towels or a kitchen towel, then look them over and discard any leaves and stems or moldy/rotten berries. Let the berries air dry completely, about 10 minutes, before using.
Make Ahead:
Wrap the baked and cooled crust in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days. The assembled pie will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before deteriorating in quality.