My better half was born and raised in Maine which means he has a strong affinity for hockey, swimming in lakes, lobster and corn on the cob, and any all things involving blueberries. Maine takes their blueberries very seriously (they have a special breed of blueberries called wild blueberries that puts the blueberries from New York to shame I would know because I've been known to eat them pints at a time). The boy also takes his blueberries very seriously, so when a pie was requested by him once blueberry season arrived on the East Coast, I knew I had my work cut out for me.
Making food for someone when they request it specifically is a daunting task, it usually stresses me out to no end. I live in fear of giving someone a version of a dish that doesn't meet their expectations. The horror! Thankfully after dating someone for so long you tend to know their preferences better then your own (like their strong aversion for anything involving blue cheese and toasted sliced almonds). This pie is an ode to the boy. A buttery, flaky crust encapsulates a sweet blueberry filling that is elevated by the addition of lemon zest (some how the zest really brings out the flavor of the fruit). The pie is topped with a spiced strussel to bring some extra zing and crunch to the pie (and let's be honest adding ginger and diced almonds is always a good idea when in the presence of blueberries). The plate was licked clean which I am going to take as a good sign.
Blueberry Crumble Pie
Crust recipe from Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Filling and strussel recipe adapted a great deal from Bon Appetit
For the Crust (makes enough dough for one double or two single crust pies or you can halve it)
2 ½ cups (315 grams) flour
1 tablespoons (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams, or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
For the Filling
5 cups of blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the Strussel
1/4 cup almonds toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
To make the dough - Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl — I like to use a very wide one, so I can get my hands in — whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender.
Make your mix: Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop. Yes, even if it looks uneven; you’ll thank me later.
Glue it together: Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there (see how that big bowl comes in handy?). Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
Pack it up: Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.
Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.
To make the pie: Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13" round. Transfer to pie dish, gently pressing dough onto bottom and up sides of dish. Fold overhang under and crimp edges decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust in several places with a fork, then chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, and juice in a bowl about 30 minutes before baking. You may need to stab some of the blueberries with a fork to get them to release some juices. After 30 minutes add in the cornstarch to thicken the juices.
Line crust with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and pie weights. Bake until crust is pale golden, about 12 minutes longer. Transfer crust to a wire rack; let cool.
Make the strussel: Combine the almonds, flour, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Pour the melted butter over it and mix topping with fingertips until blended and clumps form.
To assemble the pie: Pour the blueberries into the cooled crust and spread it out so it forms an even layer. Sprinkle topping over the blueberry filling. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and topping is golden, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning too fast.
Let pie cool on a wire rack.