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Butch: I’ll be back before you can say “blueberry pie.”
Fabienne: Blueberry pie.
Butch: OK, maybe not that fast.
~ Pulp Fiction
National Blueberry Pie Day
Growing up in Britain, blueberries were an exotic fruit, which I think I solely experienced as the synthetic flavouring in purple foods and drinks. Native to North America, blueberry, rather than apple, pie was the confection I associated with the good ol’ USA. Perhaps this was partly due to one of the staples of my childhood literary upbringing – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – in which Violet Beauregarde falls foul of a blueberry pie recipe gone bad.
Violet, a highly competitive character, is the second child to be kicked off the Factory tour due to her gum chewing habit (one of the features that Roald Dahl uses to slyly identify her as an American). Wonka invents a gum that contains an entire three-course dinner: tomato soup, roast beef and blueberry pie, but forbids Violet to chew it, as it’s not ready for human consumption. Violet argues that she holds the world record in chewing gum and goes at it anyway.
The blueberry pie stage is defective of course, causing Violet to turn blue and expand into a giant blueberry. Due to her impossibly massive girth, Wonka tells the Oompa Loompas to roll her to the juicing room to extract the blueberry juice immediately, as more swelling will cause her to explode.
Mrs. Beauregarde: “But I can’t have a blueberry as a daughter. How is she supposed to compete?”
Veruca Salt: “You could put her in a county fair.”
Other than this literary accident, there is simply nothing bad about blueberries. In fact, chemicals in blueberries may inhibit cancer cell development. The fruit is reported to have a beneficial effect on a number of other conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, urinary tract infections, heart disease and blood pressure. The leaves help block replication of the hepatitis C virus. And a recent study found that wild blueberry juice enhanced memory and learning in older adults, while reducing blood sugar and symptoms of depression.
I promise that the blueberry pie below will have all these beneficial effects. It will only lead to you being rolled around due to an impossibly massive girth if you make 10 pies and eat them all this week. Which you might be tempted to – it’s darn tootin’, as they say Stateside.
Incidentally, I served it with So Good soy vanilla icecream – a great alternative to the dairy kind.
Messy but delicious!
Blueberry Pie Recipe
One double recipe for butter pie crust dough (I have to admit I used store-bought pastry – it worked out fine)
6 cups of fresh (or frozen) blueberries, rinsed and stems removed (if using frozen, defrost and drain first)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (for thickening)
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter (unsalted), cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon milk
- Prepare the crust. Roll out half of the dough to 1/8-inch-thick circle on a lightly floured work surface, about 13 inches in diameter. Fit the dough over a 9-inch pie pan, and trim the edges to a 1/2 inch over the edge all around the pan. Put into the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.
- Gently mix the blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Transfer them to the chilled bottom crust of the pie pan. Dot with butter pieces. Roll out remaining dough to the same size and thickness as the first. Place on top of the berry filling. Tuck the top dough over and under the edge of the bottom dough, and crimp the edges with your fingers. Transfer the pie to the refrigerator to chill until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes. Heat oven to 425°F.
- Whisk egg and milk together to make an egg wash.
- Remove the unbaked pie from refrigerator. Brush the top with egg wash. Score the pie on the top with 4 cuts (so steam can escape while cooking), or make a hole in the centre. Place the pie on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 425°. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more or until juices are bubbling and have thickened. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Let cool completely before serving.