If I had to pick a favorite pie, the one that I make over and over all year round, I’d choose a blueberry crumb pie. And since frozen blueberries are always available, I can satisfy my blueberry pie cravings in any season. But I especially love a blueberry pie for the holidays. The crust is buttery and flaky, the filling is bursting with sweet, juicy blueberries, and the crumb topping adds a lovely salty sweet crunch.
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Perfect Homemade Pie Crust
If making your own from scratch pie dough intimidates you, know that with a few simple tips, you can easily become proficient at making homemade pastry dough that’s flaky and delicious. And the more you do it, the quicker and easier the process becomes. Once you make your own pie dough, you’ll never want to use store bought again.
I’ve written a whole blog post just on Perfect Pie Dough, so I’d encourage you to give it a read. It includes my recipe for flaky, all butter pie dough, of course. But also information about ingredients, equipment, processes and best practices. I’ve also included a bonus section on how to blind-bake pie dough.
Many professional bakers will use pastry flour for pie dough. It has a lower percentage of protein than all-purpose flour, making a very light and flaky dough. It’s not easily found, though, so I use all-purpose flour.
- All-Purpose Flour. Provides structure and strength to the dough.
- Granulated Sugar. Just a little, to lightly sweeten the crust.
- Coarse Kosher Salt. Balances the sweetness of the pie.
- Unsalted Butter. Adds flavor and richness. Cold butter releases steam as it bakes, which creates tiny air pockets in the dough for a light and flaky crust.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. The vinegar is optional, but a little acid tenderizes the dough.
- Milk. Moisture, to bind the crust together. You can also use ice water, but I like to use milk. The liquid should be used sparingly, though, since too much liquid weighs down the dough, and makes a tough crust.
- Frozen Blueberries. Frozen blueberries are available no matter the season, and are less expensive than fresh blueberries. I only use frozen berries for pie making. Depending on what’s in stock, sometimes I’ll use wild Maine blueberries, and sometimes regular cultivated blueberries. Wild blueberries are smaller in size, have more antioxidants, and a more intense blueberry flavor, so they make a great blueberry pie.
- Granulated Sugar. Sweetens the pie filling.
- Corn Starch. Thickens the pie filling. Some people use tapioca, but corn starch is my preferred pie thickener for most fruit pies.
- Water + Lemon Juice. Adds moisture, cooking with the sugar and fruit juices to thicken into a lovely syrup.
- Coarse Kosher Salt. Balances the sweetness.
- Vanilla Extract. Flavor.
- Unsalted Butter. Added at the end, the butter adds a nice rich flavor to the filling.
- All-Purpose Flour. Binds the crumb topping together, adding structure.
- Sugar. You can use either granulated sugar, light brown sugar or dark brown sugar to sweeten your crumb topping.
- Coarse Kosher Salt. Adds a great salty-sweet flavor to this blueberry crumb pie.
- Nutmeg. Since I don’t add spices to the blueberry filling, I like a touch of nutmeg in the crumble topping. If you don’t like nutmeg, try cinnamon, cloves or allspice.
- Unsalted Butter. In the dough, the butter should be cold, but for crumble toppings, I melt the butter so that it evenly distributes through the streusel.
Cook the filling.
I always pre-cook my fruit pie filling. This ensures that the juices thicken for a properly set pie that’s not too runny. Pre-cooking the filling a day in advance also lets the flavors mingle, but you only need to cook it a few hours in advance.
Make the dough.
Follow the recipe for my Perfect All Butter Pie Dough, roll it out, and fit it into a deep-dish pie pan. Next, you’ll be pre-baking the crust, which will guarantee a golden brown, flaky pastry crust on the bottom of your pie, that’s not flabby or soggy.
Make the crumble topping.
With both the filling and crust ready to go, you can make your crumble topping. It comes together quickly and easily by combining everything in a bowl and tossing with a fork until moistened and crumbly.
Assemble and bake.
Now spread your prepared (and cooled) blueberry pie filling over your pre-baked crust. Sprinkle with the crumb topping. Your pie is ready to bake! Since you’ve cooked the filling and crust separately, you can be assured that every bit of your pie will be cooked to perfection. This last step sets the filling and browns the crumble topping.
Cool and serve.
After baking your pie, be sure to let it cool completely before serving. Personally, I prefer to let mine cool for a good 8 hours before slicing, so I’ll plan on baking it first thing in the morning, to serve for dessert that night. Of course, if you don’t mind messy slices that still taste delicious, then you can certainly serve it warm.
Blueberry crumb pie is traditionally served with ice cream or whipped cream, and I’m not one to break with such a yummy tradition. If it’s the holidays, I’d suggest pairing your pie with a scoop of homemade, no churn Bourbon Eggnog Ice Cream.
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Blueberry Crumb Pie
- ½ recipe All-Butter Perfect Pie Dough
- 2 lbs frozen blueberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup corn starch
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¾ – 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- ¼ cup granulated sugar, light brown sugar or dark brown sugar
- ½ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Prepare 1/2 the recipe (for 1 single pie crust) for All-Butter Perfect Flaky Pie Dough.
- Roll out the dough and fit into a deep-dish pie pan. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to bake your pie. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, if wrapped in plastic wrap.
- In a stock pot, combine the frozen blueberries with the sugar, corn starch, water, lemon juice and salt. Warm over medium low heat to thaw the blueberries, stirring occasionally.
- Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it's close to boiling, stir constantly, then boil for 1 full minute while stirring.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.
- Let the filling cool to room temperature before filling and baking your pie. You can also make the filling 1 day in advance, and refrigerate until needed, taking it out of the fridge an hour before needed, to take the chill off.
- In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup of the flour with the sugar, salt and nutmeg. Drizzle with the melted butter and toss until moistened and crumbly.
- If the crumble seems too moist, add up to 1/4 cup of additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
- Set the pie pan with the prepared, chilled crust on the baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the crust, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the paper and weights. Bake the crust for another 12-15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Spread the cooled pie filling into the crust, and sprinkle with the crumb topping.Bake on the center oven rack for about 1 hour, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If the filling isn't bubbling after 1 hour, continue to bake until it bubbles up over the edges.Be sure to cover the edges of the pie with a pie shield, or strips of foil, to prevent over-browning. Cover the top of the pie loosely with a piece of foil, if the topping is getting too brown while baking.
- Set the pie on a cooling rack and cool completely (at least 4 hours) before slicing and serving. Personally, I like to wait a full 8 hours, or overnight, before serving, to allow the pie to fully set for pretty, clean slices.