Love makes you do the wacky: Blueberry pie.

Looking at my Con Ed bill, it’s hard to believe that technically, we’re still at least a couple of weeks away from the real dog days of summer. It is hot here, the sort of heat that renders asparagus limp and rubber-soled shoes sticky to touch. It’s the kind of weather that complicates my relationship with my kitchen; I love it dearly, I do, but I can’t bear the thought of a single second in its sticky embrace.

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Usually, this doesn’t present much of a problem–after all, there are plenty of delightful no-cook meals out there–but it does offer up a heavy dose of irony: it’s the perfect time of year to make fruit pie (berries! peaches!), and I can barely stomach the thought of turning on my oven. Combine that with the…complicated relationship that pie and I have cultivated, and you’re looking at a whole world of missed opportunity. At least, until recently.

Turns out, there is nothing on this green earth that Dr. Boyfriend enjoys so much as blueberry pie. And there are few things I enjoy so much as perfecting dishes that I know people love. Also, winning. Duh. Combine these three characteristics, and one thing becomes clear: I would master fruit pie. Oh yes.

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In order to achieve this, there were two problems I needed to overcome: first, I needed to find an idiotproof crust recipe. Second, I had to figure out how to keep the filling from being too runny–typically, my fillings collapse under the weight of their own deliciousness. Not a pretty sight. As I so often do in these situations, I turned to the internet. And hoo boy, internet, did you deliver.

First, I found what must be an utterly idiotproof crust recipe. Unsurprisingly, it came from Cook’s Illustrated. Surprisingly, it kind of recast everything I know about crust. Example: the dough that I set to rest in the refrigerator was very moist–kind of tacky, actually. It meant I had to flour my rolling surface heavily–which I’d been warned against doing in the past–an absolutely necessary step that somehow left the crust still tender and flaky (rumor has it that overflouring one’s crust makes it tough).

Second, I discovered the secret to a non-gelatinous, non-runny pie filling: quick-cook tapioca. I can’t really offer any further commentary, other than to say that this crazy ingredient achieves what flour, arrowroot, and cornstarch have all failed to conquer: it makes the filling cohesive, coherent, and not the least bit icktastic. Amazing.

All in all, the result was beyond what I’d hoped–I have a new crust recipe, and a newfound confidence in the kitchen. Also, someone for whom I’ll cheerfully turn on my oven in July. If that’s not winning, I don’t know what is.

Blueberry Pie

6 cups (3 pints) blueberries
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
juice of one lemon
5 tbsp quick-cook tapioca

pie crust (enough for a top and bottom crust)

  1. Place a large baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven and preheat to 425.
  2. Toss together the sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, almond extract, and blueberries.
  3. Roll out half of your pie dough on a floured surface (I find this particular crust recipe to be a bit moist, so I heartily encourage you to flour that surface heavily and often); fit it gently into a 9-inch pie plate.
  4. Pour in the filling.
  5. Roll out the other half of your pie dough, and either place it carefully on top of the pie (if you’re enterprising), or do it the weenie way and cut out small rounds or shapes using cookie cutters and arrange them attractively on the top. Either way, make sure there are some vents somewhere through which steam can escape. Trim any crust overhang so it’s all nice and tidy.
  6. Bake it for 30 minutes; then, cover it loosely with foil and drop the temperature to 375. Then, bake it about 40 or 45 minutes more, until it is golden and bubbly.
  7. Be sure to cool the pie completely before cutting, else the filling will be runny. I recommend overnight, assuming you have the emotional werewithal to hold out that long.
In baking, fruit, pie

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