In general all pies look the same to me (with very little exemptions). Some ornaments around the edges are scrumptious but nothing like you'd want to do in a daily basis. Yes, a pie is definitely something that could be made in a daily bases. My "decoration" approach was coloring the crust inspired by the color of my filling- purple! I used my natural food coloring and added it instead of the water required in the recipe. Either way will work, you can add my natural food coloring as the liquid if you want colored crust or plain water if you want a regular pie crust. There's nothing fancy about this pie, the ingredients are not hard to find and the technique doesn't require planing in advance so yes, pies shouldn't be restricted to holidays and pie competitions only, and that is why this recipe is the first one of my new season in my brand new kitchen!
Along this episode I'll go through the process of creating the ultimate pie with flaky crust, soft filling and beautiful lattice on top.
A pie doesn't require many ingredients to be made but every single one of them is very important:
The fat: The most important ingredient in the crust. Butter is the best option because it provides great flavor, elasticity and flakiness. It doesn't melt as easily because it contains less water in its components as opposed to margarine. Margarine has only 35% butterfat so most of its components are liquids. Liquids are not welcomed in a dough such as the pie crust because it makes the dough fragile (hard to roll out) and tough as well. Besides all these reasons margarine is something created in a lab and no one will ever convince me that it's healthier than a natural ingredient such as butter. Just few years ago the food industry found out that trans fats were true poison to our health so it could take them another 20 years to find out the true about margarine.
The thickening agent in the filling: The most common is cornstarch. Cornstarch is a very powerful thickening agent but it makes you pay the price: it impacts the flavor of the thickened ingredient a lot. In case of the fruits it lacks all the tartness from it and creates an uniform not exiting flavor. Flour is less powerful as a thickening agent because flour is composed of many components such as protein so you'd need a lot of flour to to thicken something and the result is always a gummy texture and a raw flour taste.
The best thickening agent for pie filling is potato starch. It will maintain the flavor of the fruits intact but help the juices thicken up to allow a slice to be served to perfection without running juices all over.
The temperature: To me the third most important step in the process of making a pie. In the beginning the ingredients should be cold to avoid the development of the gluten inherent in the protein of the flour. When the pie is ready to bake the oven should be preheated at 500f and the pie should be placed in the lower rack. The drastic temperature change will crisp up the crust. After it browns on top it should be baked for an extra 35min or until the filling starts to bubble.
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
240g butter (17 tbsp or two sticks + 3 tbsp)
6-8 tbsp cold water or cold natural food coloring (I used blackberry juice)
30 oz fresh blueberries (850g)
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of all spice (can be substituted for cinnamon)
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp potato starch
makes one 9" pie
Now, excuse me that I'll welcome myself again in my new kitchen by eating another piece of this classic!