Published July 1, 2008.
Sweet, delicate blueberries are easily overshadowed by a dull thickener. Our goal was a sliceable pie with bright, fresh flavor.
If the filling in blueberry pie doesn’t jell, a sliced wedge can collapse into a soupy puddle topped by a sodden crust. Too much thickener and the filling can be so dense that cutting into it is like slicing through gummi bears.
We wanted a pie that had a firm, glistening filling full of fresh, bright flavor and still-plump berries.
For the thickener, we started with tapioca (our normal thickener choice since we've found that cornstarch and flour mute fresh fruit flavor). The back of the tapioca box recommended 6 tablespoons, but this produced a stiff, congealed mass. Cooking and reducing half of the berries helped us cut down on the tapioca required, but not enough. A second inspiration came from blueberry jam. Blueberry jam uses pectin, a carbohydrate found in fruit, to achieve a soft, even consistency that is neither gelatinous nor slippery. Since blueberries are low in natural pectin, commercial pectin is usually added. But the extra sugar required to activate the pectin overpowered the berries, so we wondered if another fruit with natural pectin, like apples, might be a good substitute. A peeled and grated Granny Smith apple combined with a modest 2 tablespoons of tapioca provided enough thickening to set the pie beautifully, plus it enhanced the flavor of the berries. The crust posed a much simpler challenge. We used our Foolproof Pie Dough baked on a heated baking sheet on the bottom oven rack to produce a crisp, golden bottom crust. And we found a fast, easy alternative to a lattice top in a small biscuit cutter, which we used to cut out circles in the top crust before transferring the dough onto the pie. The attractive, unusual-looking top crust vented the steam from the berries as successfully as a classic lattice top.list of recipes