Blueberry Pie First. Now What?

Yesterday I baked a blueberry pie for the first time. For years I have been complaining about the so-called blueberry pies they serve in restaurants and sell in stores, those pie shells filled with a tasteless, purple-colored, gluelike gunk. Even though I am not a cook, I finally decided to bake my own. Using the simplest recipe I could find on the internet and some frozen pie crusts from the local supermarket, it took me 20 minutes to prepare and 35 minutes to bake. It was heavenly! The best blueberry pie I’ve had in 30 years.

That go me to thinking: What else is there that I, a non-cook, can easily cook at home which would be so far superior to what I can buy in a restaurant or supermarket? Any suggestions?

Homemade ice cream is ridiculously easy to make. All you need is an ice cream maker (which you can get for around twenty bucks new but often find for under five used) and a couple of bags of ice. Making the base is simple and cheap. And homemade ice cream is really good.

Well, on the pie front, next step is making your own pie crust (I like the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, with about half and half Crisco and butter; the crisco is blended in thoroughly first, then the butter cut into small pea-sized chunks).
I suspect the difference between good homemade pie crust and storebought will be bigger than the difference between homemade blueberry filling and storebought. Though it is a step up in the work level, it’s really not that hard.

I should have been clearer. I did not use storebought blueberry filling. I used fresh blueberries I bought at a market. But I have heard that the difference between a good pie and a great pie is the quality of the crusts, so maybe I’ll try making my own crusts next time. Thanks for the suggestion.

Basically every kind of pie save a few more complex custards are incredibly easy. “Easy as pie” right. Seriously, pie is crazy easy to make.

I usually buy the fridge crusts. They are better than the frozen. Better enough I can’t be bothered making my own crust, although I have done so. If you don’t have a food processor it’s a ton of work, kind of takes the pleasure out of the whole “easy as pie” thing. At least for me.

I’ll add: bread. Lots of bread is complicated, but not all bread is complicated. This is the easiest bread I know.
Sixty Minute Bread from “The Minimalist Cooks Dinner” by Mark Bittman
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons “Instant” yeast (NOT active, not rapid-rise – instant or “bread machine” yeast)(SAF brand recommended)
2 teaspoons salt.
(optional: tsp of black pepper, dill, oregano, or dried herb of choice, half-cup of grated cheese of choice. Add to dry ingredients)

Combine flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Add 1 & 1/4 cups warm water all at once stirring with spoon and mushing with your hands to incorporate as needed. Add additional water by the Tablespoon, if needed, until a ball forms.

Shape the dough into a round by turning the ends under (recipe says you can also form into a long loaf, but this never works for me), using only enough flour to allow you to handle the dough. Place dough on a cookie sheet.

Let rise in the warmest spot in your kitchen while you preheat the oven to 425F.

Bake 30-45 minutes, until crust is golden-brown, crisp & firm. Allow to cool most of the way before slicing (if you can wait…).

Butter. Nom.

Because it contains no fat, this bread does not keep more than a day well sealed. Not to worry. 2-4 people can devour it at a sitting.

May substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour. If so, rise an hour if possible.

Now that you’ve made a pie, try making a galette (basically, a one-crust pie). These are simple, elegant and delicious.

Whirl ¼ cup almond paste, 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar, and ¼ cup sour cream in a food processor. Roll pie pastry for a single crust into a 13” round and lay on a baking sheet. Evenly spread almond mixture on dough, leaving a 2 inch border. Arrange sliced fruit on top and fold dough edge over fruit. Brush edge with milk and sprinkle brown sugar on top of galette. Bake at 3875 until crust is golden, about 35 minutes.

I love some blueberry pie!

My favorite is blueberry galette (sp?). I butter a cookie sheet or pizza sheet and place one crust down, crimping the edges so the blueberries don’t roll off. Then I get about 2 cups of fresh berries and toss them with about 1/4 cup of sugar and a dose of cinnamon. Then I just shave a little fresh butter over the top and bake until awesome. My MIL says this is the best pie she ever ate. I really like to keep all my dishes as simple as possible.

For my contribution: Butter

You can make butter in a blender in a matter of minutes, and you can doctor it any way you like–I like to make honey butter to go on biscuits and garlic & rosemary butter to go on savory breads.

  1. Let a quart of heavy whipping cream warm to just below room temperature.

  2. Put it in the blender and blend at the lowest speed. (Blending too fast or blending it cold tends to get you whipped cream instead of butter. Not that there’s anything wrong with homemade whipped cream, either.)

  3. After about 10 minutes, it should break up, looking like little blobs of stuff in skim milk.

  4. Pour off the milk (or strain out the blobs). Save the milk to drink or have on cereal, if you like–it’s just low-fat milk at this point.

  5. Add flavorings. (I use 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of almond extract for my sweet butter, but you should adjust to suit your tastes.)

  6. Add about 1/2 cup of cold water and blend it briefly. When the water turns cloudy, drain it off and add more. Do this 2 or 3 times, or until the water stays clear (I’m not obsessive about this.) This is called “washing” the butter, and it gets more of the buttermilk out.

  7. Put your blob of butter in a bowl (I use a chilled stainless steel bowl), and use a spoon to squish it down kind of flat, then scrape it back up into a blob again. This presses excess water out of it. Do this a couple of times and pour off the water.

  8. You now have your custom, homemade butter to put on Hello Again’s bread. :slight_smile:

Any that’s left over can go in a storage container, and will keep for a long time in the fridge. If you want to get fancy, you could even have a butter mold and make a block of butter. I find it’s really best when it’s fresh and soft, though.

I really see no reason to make my own crusts anymore. I use the refrigerated (not frozen) roll-out Pillsbury crusts and find them both excellent and easy to use.

I make blueberry and cream cheese pies that always seem to be greeted with enthusiasm. I mix one block of cream cheese with 1/4 cup of sugar for each pie, make a smooth layer of it over the bottom crust, pour my blueberry filling over that, and seal it with a second crust. Then I bake it like a regular blueberry pie.

Homemade Mac&Cheese. Hands down better than anything you can buy at a store.

  • 1 pound short pasta (penne, fusilli, gemeli, whatevs)
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1 quart of whole milk
  • block of cheddar (shredded)
  • block of gruyere (shredded)
  • 4-6 heaping tbs. flour
  • panko bread crumbs
  • salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta until slightly under-done (a tad more than al dente), and drain. Heat the milk in a sauce pan (to warm, not to simmer or boil). I add a bit of salt, pepper, and some crushed pepper flake to my warm milk. In a second sauce pan, cook together 1 stick of butter and the flour to make a roux. Cook it for just a minute or two, so that the flour is cooked out, but the color is just slightly blond. Add the milk to the roux, slowly a ladel full at a time, and whisk to incorporate. Bring the milk/roux mixture up to a simmer to thicken, then take off the heat. Add the shredded cheese and stir stir stir to incorporate. Stir the cheese mixture into the strained pasta, and pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with panko bread crumbs. Melt the other 1/2 stick of butter, and pour over the bread crumbs. Optional - top with tomato slices. Bake in the oven around 350 until the bread crumbs are brown and the cheese is bubbly. So good!!!

I don’t eat pie in restaurants because they use so little fruit and so much corn starch it practically sticks to the roof of my mouth. MMmmm.

I make my own jams and jellies because they are so much better than store bought. I think part of the thing with fruit products at home is that we put a lot more time and attention into selecting good, ripe fruit. Also, with pies at least, the store bought kind needs stabilizers and preservatives to give them shelf life.

Put me in the column of not making my own pie crusts - any pie crust I’ve bought has tasted wonderful to me (I think the key is baking them properly - I’ve had way too many pies with white crusts - if it ain’t golden brown, it ain’t done). You’ve got me thinking about making my own blueberry pie now - I totally agree about the filling. If you can find one whole blueberry in that gooey mess, you’re doing good. Cherry pies are the same.

About all I can think of are cookies - I love homemade cookies. I have an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe that is about the best I’ve ever tasted.

Mmmmm. I recently made something similar based on a recipe from The Splendid Table.

The awesome twist to this one was scattering the fruit with fresh (not dried) rosemary. So delicious! The host of the show (Lynne Rossetto Kasper) emphasized that you can use any kind of fruit, so I used blueberries, strawberries (both frozen from my garden) and a few apple slices. Fantastic.

And, the crust turned out well, even though I often struggle with pastries.

Humbly requesting one of those homemade blueberry pie recipes.

Custard is really easy to make. I make it in the rice cooker

2 cups milk (or cream)
4 eggs
Half cup sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla

That’s it. You scald the milk (heat it, till it’s hot but doesn’t boil), you MUST do this or the custard won’t set.

Beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla well. Then when milk is hot quickly stir in the egg mixture keep beating fast, so hot milk doesn’t cook eggs. I use a hand blender.

Then put the custard mixture on cook on the rice cooker for five minutes. Then switch from the cook to the warm.

Then watch it while it cooks on warm, till the custard sets, between 10 to 15 minutes more. Then cool.

It is very good, but you don’t get the crusty top like if you bake it.

You may have to adjust the sugar and vanilla up or down a bit, depending on if you want it sweeter or less sweet. I like vanilla but some people might use less

Jumping in and reviving… a not quite zombie thread?
I have yet to have a frozen crust that didn’t taste gross–but I swear by the roll-out refrigerator crusts. If I’m just using a pasty crust, I see no reason not to save myself a lot of time and just use one of these. Other crusts (grahm or shorbread or pretzel, etc) I’ll make myself.

My wife and I made a Blueberry cream pie this past weekend, modifying a banana cream pie recipe.
It was amazing but it didn’t firm up very well. I think we didn’t compensate enough for the juice in the berries throwing off the liquid content. Any pie maker advice?

I love Grape Pie. You cannot get it in any supermarket, and most pie shops don’t sell it. It’s too labor-intensive. But I’ve been baking at least one every year for the past 30 years or so.

Here’s one recipe:

Don’t trust the measures given for sugar. I find that the sugar content of the grapes varies from year to year, and you have to do it by taste. Also, err on the side of too tart. you can always sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar if you have to, but it’s too easy to make one that’s too sweet.

While you’re waiyting for Concord Grape season, you can always make an Apple Pie, which is well worth the effort. For fun, you can mix in cranberries.

As one who bakes professionally I’ll chime in and say the first thing that’s way better than store bought is pie crusts.

At work we use baker’s shortening, which is rather firmer than Crisco or it’s clones, but Crisco will do. Lard would be better. Don’t listen to what your arteries are saying.

3.5 ounces shortening/lard(about 7 tablespoons)
1 cup flour
90 mls ice water(3/8 cup)

Cut fat into flour with finger tips or pastry cutter. Dump in ice water and gather into a ball. Let it sit for a minute or two to absorb water, then mix with hands the minimum amount to get a smooth crust.

Ohhhhh, all over it this weekend!

Yes! Canning is so easy…blackberry jam or strawberry jelly from the store cannot compare. And canning a big batch of apple butter on a fall day is one of my favorite things.

As far as recipes, I like the jam/jelly recipes that call for a little less sugar. The recipes inside the package of pectin are just fine, but hunting around for various ‘grandma’s favorites’ is fun.

For pies?

Rhubarb & cherry, about equal amounts but slightly more rhubarb.
Rhubarb & strawberry, again, slightly more rhubarb than berries. This is good if you don’t like fruit pies too sweet.

Learn how to make lattice topping.

And something that impresses but is laughably easy? Handmade whipped cream. With a good whisk it takes less than five minutes and it’s really delicious. I’ve made this and guests looked like they were about to start kowtowing with “We’re not worthy” a la Life of Brian.

For sure. Add cream, add some sugar and/or flavoring. Turn on Kitchenaide mixer. Come back 5 minutes later. Voila!