It’s been a long time, but I think sometimes you need to leave yourself to find and return to yourself. Sometimes, that leaving is about letting go of the things you love the most. The hope is that you return to a new, altered state–one where you can feel the journey taken and what you’ve carried along the way. This is a long-winded way of saying that I had to quit cooking and baking and recipe sharing for nearly two years to finally love it again. I think the mistake I made was taking on an amazing project that turned my passion for food–a hobby–into something on which I relied for income. And in the process, I’ve learned that your some hobbies need to remain hobbies. Long after the gig was over, I sold my cameras, lenses, and nearly stopped cooking. I didn’t run to the bookstore for the latest cookbook or spend hours perusing its pages. Instead, I ordered take out. Sometimes, my delivery person would be the only person I’d see that whole day and their delivery would serve as my anesthetic.
And then a month ago, I started up again–just like that. And last week I met an incredible woman whose passion for food reminded me of my own. Her energy was infectious and we talked about food and cookbooks and technique and I found I wanted to get back in the kitchen. I wanted to crank up that oven.
An old friend came by and I made her this blueberry lemon pie. It’s a bit of a mess, really, because I haven’t properly made dough from scratch for a few years. But it felt good holding it in my hands. It felt good to see my friend dive in with her fork and clean her plate. And it feels good to share all of this with you. Enjoy!
Ingredients (Pâte Brisée I from Joanne Chang’s Flour, the filling is my own)
For the Pâte Brisée I
1 3/4 cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks / 228 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cold milk
For the filling
7 cups of blueberries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup of coconut sugar (I don’t like my desserts very sweet, so this will be jarring if you are used to sugar, so I’d up this to a 3/4 cup of coconut sugar if you’re in love with sweet)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of one lemon
1 egg beaten for wash
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, sugar, and salt for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top. Mix on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and lumps of butter the size of pecans are visible throughout.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended. Add to the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough just barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.
Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface, then gather it together into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface (at Flour we call this “going down the mountain”), until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.
Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
On a well-floured surface, roll out 2/3 of the third into a 12-inch circle. Insert the dough to a 9-inch pie pan/dish and chill in the fridge for a half hour. After a half hour, add a sheet of parchment paper over the pie crust and add dried beans or uncooked rice on top of the parchment paper. You’re blind-baking this so you need something to weight the dough down so it doesn’t rise. Bake the pie crust for 30 minutes. While this is baking, you can make the filling.
In a medium saucepan, add 2 cups of the blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, and salt and cook for 4-6 minutes until the berries are gooey. You don’t want to break up the berries. Gently fold in the remaining 5 cups and the grated lemon zest and toss until all the berries are coated. Set aside. Take the par-baked crust out of the oven, remove the parchment and then pile on the filling. Roll out the remaining dough to cover for the top crust. Brush with the beaten egg and feel free to sprinkle sugar on top. With a knife, make a few slices at the top so you allow for steam to escape. Bake for 1 hr-1 hr 15 minutes or until the top has completely browned. I start checking at an hour because all ovens are different.
Let the pie sit on a rack for 30 minutes and cool in the fridge for 2 hours. DO NOT cut into the pie before the two-hour mark. You want the pie to congeal and think of this like how you wouldn’t cut into beef when it comes out of the oven.
Serve cold and maybe with some yummy ice cream?