It’s so much fun to judge pies when they’re made with good JerseyFresh fruit! Last Saturday I joined fellow judges Frank Benowitz, Pam Parseghian, and Pat Tanner at the West Windsor Community Farmers Market for their annual blueberry pie contest.
There were six entrants and we got to work just after 11:00 am, finishing up maybe an hour later.
First place went to Sandy Duffy of Princeton Junction. Sandy’s pie was picture perfect. She used a shortbread crust, so it wasn’t as dark as a more typical pastry crust would have been, but it had good shortbread texture and was attractively fluted on the edges. The top of the pie was unadorned, with no crust or crumb topping, but there was a luscious whipped cream topping on the side.
The clincher? Her glossy filling was beautifully mounded with almost no sinking in the middle. How did she manage that? The secret was in her recipe which used a mixture of cooked and uncooked berries, a technique I saw more than once. If you precook some of the berries, your filling will not lose as much volume in the baking. Good job Sandy!
Second place went to Kit Haines-Bornheimer, also of West Windsor (I loved her almost candied oatmeal topping), and third place to Lindsay Smith of Lawrence, who made an exuberant stars and stripes lattice topping. The three winning recipes are below, note the addition of nectarine to the second place pie, and apple to the third, which I am guessing is for their pectin (and maybe sweetness balance?) since cooked blueberries are so juicy.
Other entrants, and mind you, they all produced tasty pies, were Christina Krowicki, Christian Gobo, and Deena Mitlak. Thank you all for your excellent efforts, especially on a holiday weekend!
There are lots of other foodie events coming up at the Market, including the annual food writer’s panel on Saturday (July 16), so be sure to check out the WWCFM Website for the latest information.
First place, Sandy Duffy
Fresh Blueberry Pie
1 cup butter
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir together flour and baking powder; blend into butter mixture. Put into a 9” pie pan. Bake in 350° oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
6 cups blueberries, divided
4 oz. cream cheese
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
½ tsp almond extract
1 tsp lemon zest
Place 3 cups washed blueberries in baked pie shell. Whisk cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl until dissolved. Stir cornstarch mixture, 3 cups blueberries, sugar, almond extract and lemon zest in a saucepan over medium heat; simmer until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Poor over blueberries in crust. Chill. [We judges weren’t sure at what point the cream cheese in the ingredients got added, but maybe as the filling was heated?]
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Whip cream until stiff, stir in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.
Second place, Kit Haines-Bornheimer
Jersey Fresh Blueberry Crumb Pie
1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
½ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, but into ¼ inch slices
¼ cup vegetable shorting, cold, cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
1/8 cup vodka, cold
1/8 cup cold water
6 cups fresh (Jersey!) blueberries
Pulp from 1 nectarine, finely diced, extra moisture removed by wringing pulp in cheesecloth
3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
¾ – 1 cup sugar, depending on tartness of blueberries
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca, ground fine in a spice grinder
Pinch of table salt
¾ cup rolled oats
¼ cup flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup softened unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 egg white, beaten
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
For pie dough: Process ¾ cup flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined. Add butter and shortening and process until dough begins to come together in pea-sized clumps with no flour. Scrape down bowl and redistribute in processor. Add final ½ cup flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl.
Empty the mixture into a medium-sized mixing bowl and sprinkle with the vodka and water. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dough over on itself and press down to incorporate the liquids into the dough.
Form the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
When ready to assemble, remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a generously-floured work surface into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a pie plate by wrapping it lightly around a rolling pin and unrolling it into the pie plate. Trim any overhanging dough and flute the edges using thumb and forefinger. Refrigerate prepared crust while preparing the filling.
For the filling: Position oven rack in the lowest position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place 3 cups of blueberries in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Using a potato masher, mash the berries several times to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally until about half of the berries have broken down and the mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 ½ cups. Let cool slightly.
Place the nectarine pulp in a large bowl. Add the cooked berries, the remaining 3 cups of uncooked berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine.
Transfer the mixture to the dough-lined pie plate.
For the topping: mix the rolled oats, flour, sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon and salt together. Add the vanilla and slices of butter and work into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the blueberries.Brush any exposed pie crust with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.
To cook: Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes, being careful not to let the topping burn. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until the berry juices and just barely bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes longer.
Transfer to a pie rack and cool for at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges to serve.
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Blueberry Pie recipe, substituting a crumb topping)
Lindsay Smith, Third Place
2 pints blueberry rinsed, and dried
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1) Combine 1 1/2 pints blueberries, the sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the water in a medium saucepan. Set over low heat and cook, stirring often until the blueberries have become very juicy and the sugar has dissolved. Mix the cornstarch with the remaining water, then stir in about a third of the blueberry juices. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan, return to the heat and cook stirring constantly until thickened and clear (3 min).
2) Remove from the heat, scrape the filling into a medium bowl and stir in the spices. Let cool.
3) Set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 375.
4) Fold the remaining blueberries and apple into the cooled filling.
5) Scrap into the piecrust and spread evenly. Dot with the butter and arrange the top crust. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
6) Place the pie in the over and decrease the temperature to 350 F. Bake until the crust is baked through and the juices are actively simmering, about 45 min.
7) Cool the pie on the rack and serve warm .
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 Tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 12 pieces
1) Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor, pulse several times until combined
2) Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is finely mixed into the dry ingredients.
3) Use a fork to beat the eggs until the yolks are broken and pour into food processor. Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball.
4) Invert the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead together 3-4 times to make it smooth.
5) Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into disks and wrap them each in plastic. Chill for a few hours before rolling.
6) Before rolling the dough, place on a floured surface and gently knead until smooth and malleable.