Showing posts with label berry dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label berry dessert. Show all posts

Friday, August 5, 2016

Classic Blueberry Pie

We write about blueberries a lot on Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen. If you go through the long list of our earlier posts, you’ll find recipes for pies and cakes and pancakes and whole lot of muffins (and there are more waiting in the wings!). It seems we like to eat blueberries, and we like to cook with them.

It’s blueberry season again. It doesn’t last too long, so you’ve kind of got to seize the day as it rushes by—and there were local blueberries at my farmers’ market this week. It’s not a coincidence that the New York Times recently posted an article about blueberry pie. Nothing new under the sun, eh?

Well, yes and no. The first comment discussed in the article among several chefs, was that it’s hard to thicken blueberry filling, because blueberries can be unpredictable, anywhere from runny to gummy. That makes choosing a thickening agent challenging, and the chefs did not all agree. The options are (1) cornstarch, (2) flour, (3) tapioca, and (4) arrowroot. There is some preference for using arrowroot. Aha! I have arrowroot!

Then there’s the question of the crust. Sam Sifton, NYT food editor, prefers all butter. The Joy of Cooking cookbook and Julia Child leaned toward using shortening. Some people like lard. But Sam specifies that if you use the right butter (high fat European style), and keep everything cold (which is a challenge because the blueberries come into season in midsummer, when it’s not exactly cold), butter is the way to go.

As I’m sure you remember, not long ago I finally found a pie crust recipe that worked. I promptly saved it with the title Pie Crust Recipe That Works. Yes, it’s all-butter, and also includes powdered sugar and orange juice. You can find that recipe here. (If you wonder why my crust looked a bit raggedy, it’s because I should have thought to make a double recipe—but look! It stretched!)

Blueberry Pie Filling

2 pounds/8 cups fresh blueberries, washed and picked over [Note: this is the way the recipe was given. I weighed out two pounds, and it’s nowhere near eight cups, more like six cups. Six cups is plenty to fill a pie.]

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tblsp lemon juice
2-3 Tblsp arrowroot or cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

Put 1 cup of the blueberries into a food processor or blender with the sugar, lemon juice, 2 Tblsp arrowroot/cornstarch and salt, then puree.

Put the mixture into a medium or large pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens (about one minute). Remove from the heat and add the remaining blueberries and stir.

Roll out the bottom crust of your pie and fit it into an 8-inch pie plate. 
[Another note: that two-pound measure of blueberries wouldn’t fill an eight-inch pie crust, especially if heaped. Maybe that’s where the eight cups came in. If you’re making this, either use the two pounds of berries and a smaller pie dish, or the eight-inch dish and the eight cups of berries. Who says the NYT knows everything?] Heap the filling into it. Make an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tblsp water) and apply to the edge of the crust (pretend it’s glue!). 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
[And yet another note: an all-butter crust browns very quickly, so you might want to (1) reduce the heat, or (2) wrap the edges with foil. And an aside: pies have been known to leak, so it’s wise to put a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips—easier than cleaning the bottom of the oven!]

Roll out the top crust and cut some vents (plain or fancy) to let steam escape. Place it over the top, crimping at the edge. Place it in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes. 

After 30 minutes, rotate the pie and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake until the top is golden and the filling is bubbling through the vents, which may take from 25 to 45 minutes [Sorry, Sam, but it didn’t take that long. But then, it wasn’t an eight-inch pie pan either.].

Oh, what the heck. It’ll taste good, no matter what. Let it cool on a rack before you try to cut it. And those berries? Definitely goopy. So much for the arrowroot theory.

Seeds of Deception, coming in October. Does not take place in blueberry season! Or even apple season. But even sleuths and suspects have to eat, so no doubt there will be recipes.

Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Berry Happy Fourth of July

One of my friends told me about a 4th of July dessert she saw somewhere. It happened to be made of all my mother's favorites (coincidentally, Lucy's favorites, too!) - fresh fruit, whipped cream, and a slice of cake. Sort of a cross between a trifle and a strawberry shortcake. A long narrow platter was lined with slices of cake. Fresh blue and red berries were heaped on top and it was served with whipped cream.

My July 3rd is going to be a busy day with appointments and errands. I suspect that most people who work in offices will be putting in a full day of work. They'll be hitting the grocery store Thursday night or Friday morning, so anything quick and easy will be appealing. This fits the bill perfectly. So easy to assemble but it's a showstopper.

I baked a simple loaf cake. If you're in a rush, pick up a Sara Lee pound cake in the frozen section of the grocery store. I won't tell. I sliced it and spread the slices out on the plate. Since there aren't any children partaking of it, I splashed a teaspoon or so of Chambord on top of each slice. Then I heaped strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries over the whole thing. Honestly, it could serve as a centerpiece. All the fruit is so pretty on top. You can spoon the whipped cream over it just before serving or pass a bowl of whipped cream, which might be easier.

For fun, I also made it in a dessert bowl. If you're having a more elegant dinner on the 4th, say in your penthouse overlooking the Iwa Jima Memorial where you'll be able to see the fireworks in the sky behind it, you might want to serve individual portions.

A couple of observations. Don't slice the fruit and don't macerate it. It will make the cake soggy. Also, be sure to dry the fruit after you wash it. I did not slice the strawberries but I did pluck out the hulls. They can be very pretty but not practical in a dish like this. In retrospect, I wish I had sliced each piece of cake just to make serving it easier.

Feel free to switch around the fruit proportions depending on what your family likes.

A Berry Forth of July Dessert

1 loaf cake
Chambord (optional)
8 ounces strawberries
12 ounces blueberries
6 ounces raspberries
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Simple Loaf Cake

2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter softened plus extra for greasing pan
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan.

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs, beating after each one. Alternate adding the flour and the milk. Bake for 1 hour and fifteen minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edges before turning out of the pan.

Whipped Cream

Beat the cream until it begins to take shape. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat.


Slice the cake and lay each slice flat (don't overlap the slices). Cut each slice in two or three pieces for easy serving. Sprinkle one teaspoon of Chambord over each slice. Beginning with the strawberries, heap the berries on the cake slices. It's okay if a few fall to the sides. Serve with whipped cream.

Bake a loaf cake.
Slice and lay flat on serving plate.
Or place a piece of a slice in individual bowls.
Wash and dry the berries.
Heap the berries on the cake.

Serve with whipped cream.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!