A few years ago, I had never made a fruit pie. I was baking cookies all the time; my husband considered me the goddess of cookies. But when it came to pie, it was all about his mom. “Don’t even bother,” he said. “You’re only setting yourself up for failure. My mom’s pies are amazing.”
His mom’s pies are pretty delicious, I’m not going to lie. But I was bound and determined from that point on to make a pie that would top hers. (Sorry, Kris. It’s the way of the daughter-in-law.) My first ever fruit pie, as far as I can remember, was an apple pie. I used Serious Eats’ recipe, after reading their primer on apples. Phillip was impressed, and I felt triumphant. My triumph did not last long.
The next time I made that pie was two years ago, when I went apple-picking with my sisters. I left with an excessive amount of apples, and my sister, Anna, and I decided to have a Pie Bake-Off. I gawked at her haphazard method of making pie dough with her fingers and a fork, while I used the food processor. I carefully followed my recipe, leveling off my spices in teaspoons; Anna threw things together, shaking cinnamon and nutmeg onto her apples with abandon. I smirked, knowing that my pie would be superior.
Except it wasn’t. I could tell that the texture of my apples and crust were better than hers, but the flavor was just… meh. Undersweet and underspiced. My sister stood victorious, and I was downtrodden. I wrapped up my barely-touched pie and carried it home, my ego crushed.
The next day, I decided to shame-eat a slice of my pathetic pie for breakfast, hoping to glean some insight into why my pie fell short. And much to my surprise, its flavor was ten times better. I am the only one who can attest to this, since I am the only before and after taste-tester, but I swear it had risen to the flavor level of Anna’s pie, just from resting overnight. (Truthfully, I had only let it cool an hour or so before cutting into it the previous evening.) I called Anna up to tell her the good news that I really, really had a better pie, but she was not willing to admit defeat based on my say-so.
Since then, I have been trying to prove my pie prowess. I’ve got normal pie crust down pat, and I’ve made blackberry and peach pies since then (and mini cupcake-tin pies that I haven’t blogged about), but I’ve still got the pie monkey on my back, urging me to make more and more and more until I finally feel like I can confidently say that I am good at making pies. So after a long, harsh winter, with no decent pie fruit in sight, I am bursting to get my pie on.
Blueberries and corn. Why? Because summer is practically here. Cornmeal crust, because I’m so over making the same old pie dough. An egg wash for a dark, golden crust (I’ve felt in the past that my crusts look a bit anemic). Waiting 8 hours to eat a pie? Not fun. But I’ll never do it any other way now. Serve it with some vanilla ice cream. Who has ever regretted that decision?
Am I the world’s best pie-maker? Not by a long shot. See how there are some runny juices? (I upped the cornstarch in the recipe below; I only used 2 tablespoons.) There’s always room for improvement. I should probably make more pies.
- 2½ cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (70 grams) cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 cup (225 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 8-10 tablespoons ice cold water
- 1 egg
- pinch of kosher salt
- 5 cups (750 grams) blueberries
- 2 cups (300 grams) raw corn kernels (from about 2 ears of corn)
- 3 tablespoons (35 grams) cornstarch
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, sea salt, and lemon zest. Pulse a few times until combined. Scatter cold butter cubes over the top of the dry ingredients, then pulse in the food processor until butter chunks are about the size of peas. Drizzle 6 tablespoons of water into the food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until crust begins to come together. Dump out onto a clean surface and press dough together. Divide in half and press into two discs. Wrap discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- When ready to make your pie, preheat your oven to 425°F. Roll one disc into a 14-inch round. Transfer to the bottom of a 9- or 9½-inch pie pan and return to the refrigerator.
- In a large bowl, combine blueberries, corn kernels, cornstarch, sugar, lemon zest, sea salt, and nutmeg. Gently stir to combine and distribute the ingredients evenly. Pour into the chilled pie crust and return to the refrigerator while you roll out the top crust.
- Roll out the second pie dough disc into a 12-inch round. Lay the round over the top of the pie, fold the edges of the bottom crust over to seal, then crimp the edges. Cut a few slits in the top of the pie. (Alternatively, you can do a fun design with the top crust, like a lattice or cutouts. I used this lattice cutter from Fat Daddio's). Place the pie in the refrigerator to get the crust nice and cold.
- In a small bowl, whisk an egg with a pinch of kosher salt and let rest for 5 minutes. Brush top of the pie and the edges with the egg wash. Place small chunks of butterall over the top of the pie. Immediately transfer the pie to the middle rack of the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, until the crust is a deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling and sputtering at the edges. If the top of the crust seems to be getting too brown, but the filling isn't bubbling yet, cover the top of the pie with a piece of foil to keep the top crust from getting too dark.
- Remove the pie from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving (ideally, let cool for about 8 hours).