My friends, summer is swiftly passing us by. If you’re like me and LOVE summertime, I urge you to make this pie as quick as you can and savor the last sweet blueberries of the season! Also, ignore the unsightly uneven crust edges. It’s what I like to call “Artisanal.”
The recipe is SPOT-ON, and with good reason! The crust and the filling recipes both came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Chez Panisse Desserts, by Lindsey Remolif Shere. If you haven’t heard of Chez Panisse before, it is the restaurant founded by Alice Waters, who started the California Cuisine movement earlier in the 70’s. Ms. Shere was the pastry chef at Chez Panisse and wrote this book for the great benefit of our tastebuds, and to the detriment of our lovehandles :)
This image is from a while ago, when I still lived in my apartment at college. Every Tuesday we’d have Bible studies at my place, and this is one of the treats I baked for the occasion. My guests were definitely fans! Make it soon, for your parents, your neighbors, your book club! They will feel like they’re eating dessert at one of the best restaurants in America.
Blueberry Meyer Lemon Cream Pie
1 c. Pastry cream (Halve this recipe)
– 2 1/2 c. Milk
– 1/3 c. Flour
– 6 tbsp. sugar
– 6 Egg yolks
– 1-2 tbsp. unsalted butter
– 1-2 Meyer Lemons
1. Scald (heat to just under boiling) the milk
2. In a separate heavy saucepan, mix flour and sugar
3. In a third bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and light-colored
4. Whisk the hot milk into the flour and sugar. Cook this over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture has boiled for 1-2 minutes.
5. Whisk a little of the milk mixture into the eggs to heat them up (I have learned that this is called tempering the eggs, and will prevent the hot milk from cooking the eggs into solid lumps in your custard). Then stir all of the eggs into the cooking mixture.
6. Cook, constantly mixing, until the pastry cream begins to hold a slight shape. If you have one, a thermometer works well to monitor the cooking. It should cook to 170F. (Ms. Shere notes that you should not undercook the cream, otherwise the enzymes in the egg won’t be cooked, and your cream will break down. You should also never let it boil.)
7. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and grate in the Meyer lemon zest.
8. Push through a medium-fine strainer to remove the lumps, and whisk occasionally while cooling to prevent a crust from forming. Then, chill this in the refrigerator.
Notes: Beating the cream after it cooks will thin it out, so if you over-cooked it, this will help to return it to the right texture. The cream should look shiny, and mound lightly. When I made this cream, it took less than 15 minutes.
Short Crust Pie Shell
This was supposed to be a tart shell, but I put it in my glass pie pan, and called it a pie. I’m a rebel like that.
Makes 9-inch Pastry shell
– 1 c. Flour
– 1 tbsp. sugar
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 1/4 tsp. grated lemon zest
– 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
– 1 tbsp. water
– 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon peel together.
2. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch slices and work it into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender (or your hands, or 2 dinner knives), until the butter is in small cornmeal-sized pieces, and coated in flour. This technique, “to cut in the butter,” makes a non-homogeneous mixture where the butter remains in small chunks throughout the dough, ensuring a flakiness to the pastry crust.
3. Separately mix the water and vanilla together, then work it into the dough until it is blended and will hold together if you press it. A good crust should not be too shaggy looking, but should definitely not be too wet either. I prefer to err on the shaggy side, however!
4. Gather the dough into a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes. This period ensures that the gluten proteins in your flour have time to relaaaaax, and that your crust won’t shrink in the oven.
5. Press the pastry evenly into a 9-inch pie pan and bake at 375F for around 25 minutes, or until it is lightly golden brown.
– 1 pint blueberries
– 2-3 tbsp. strained raspberry, red currant, or blueberry jam (I used boysenberry because that’s what I had. Still yummy!)
– 1/2 tsp. Kirsch, optional
1. Wash the berries and make sure there are no stems, leaves, or bad ones in the mix.
2. Pick a saute pan that is large enough to hold the blueberries in 1-2 layers on the bottom. Cook the jam in this pan until it is slightly less runny.
3. Toss the blueberries and the Kirsch in the jam over high heat very briefly, until they are coated and just barely warm.
Put it All Together
1. Smooth out the cooled pastry cream with a whisk, and spread it in the pie shell evenly.
2. Set the blueberries over the pastry cream with a spoon. Serve immediately!
3. Take a bite, close your eyes and envision you’re still in summer. MMmmmm
Who do you know that would enjoy this pie? :)