Today marks the beginning of the very last week of summer for Matthew before he heads back to school to begin his First Grade studies. I am dreading the first day of school. Ever since Matthew started Preschool, the beginning of the school year has been very difficult and emotional for me. While the routine of the school day is appreciated by parents and children alike, I love having little Matthew around all day every day. I think both his sisters will miss him, but more importantly I will miss him so very much. He has truly blossomed this summer into a helpful, loving older sibling and son. He still has his moments, but he has demonstrated a true desire to please and be helpful.
I was getting so flustered, especially because I had let the pie dough sit a bit too long and it was being a real pain to roll out. Matthew, seeing my frustration, grabbed Lucy by her torso, took over to the other room, and began to encourage her to play with her Noah's Ark set. My little man bought me just enough time to finish assembling the pie, toss it in the oven, and quickly clean everything up before returning to my typical role as the baby slave. But, do you see? Matthew anticipated my needs and, without even being asked, took control of the situation and aided me in my time of crisis. I will miss him so incredibly much! While out at the library a couple days ago, the librarian asked me if I was excited for the start of the school year. When I answered with an emphatic "NO!" she was very surprised and told me I was the first Mom to say that. I explained to her that I love having Matthew at home and the beginning of the school year is always very emotional for me. I wonder if that will ever change?
The blueberry pie I made with Matthew was entirely his idea. After we did our last round of blueberry picking, Matthew begged and pleaded for me to help him make a pie. I was actually not too wild about the idea of making blueberry pie because I remember not liking it very much at all as a child. Granted, that was about a gazillion years ago and a lot of things have changed since then. I no longer wear my hair in big scrunchies, walk around in dalmatian-patterned wind pants, regard the Hardy Boy mysteries as top shelf reading material, or think Tuna Casserole is the fanciest meal on the planet so perhaps my tastes regarding blueberry pie have changed as well. So, Matthew and I made my favorite pie crust and decided to use a simple filling recipe from Williams-Sonoma (upping the amount of berries called for by quite a bit).
Matthew could not wait to cut into the pie and was rather bummed when I told him that we had to let it cool as long as possible or else the juices would run out when cut. So he waited and waited and as a little special treat for being such a good helper, Paul and I let him stay up a little later than his sisters and enjoy a big piece of pie with us. You should have seen him eat it - he enjoyed, savored, and delighted in each and every bite. The entire time he ate his slice, he kept raving about how much he loved it. He has come a long way from the little boy who would never even touch every pie, cobbler, or crisp I made. He licked his plate clean and asked me to promise to make it for his birthday. I guess someone is getting blueberry pie in the middle of January.
This pie completely changed my opinion about blueberry pie. It was so darn good. We served it a la mode with a scoop of ice cream and that was simply perfect. I loved the small hint of cinnamon that really accented to the blueberries in the filling. At first I was worried that it would clash with the little bit of lemon also added to the filling, but the flavors actually melded together perfectly. I can't stress enough how much every single member of the family enjoyed this pie! And now that I know my kids love pie so much, I really should start making it more often!
filling adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Crust adapted from Cook's Illustrated
For the Crust:
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch slices
½ cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into 4 pieces
¼ cup vodka, cold
¼ cup cold water
For the Filling:
6 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, strained
3⁄4 cup sugar
3 tablespoon cornstarch
1⁄2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Process 1½ cups of the flour, the salt and sugar in a food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 to 15 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute the dough evenly around the processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into 2 even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Remove 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a generously floured work surface to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Ease the dough into the plate by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with the other hand. Leave any dough that overhangs the plate in place; refrigerate while preparing the filling, at least 30 minutes.
To prepare the filling, place the blueberries in a large bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss to coat evenly. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the berries and toss to distribute evenly. Immediately transfer to the dough-lined pan. Dot with the butter.
Roll out the second half of the pie dough into a 12-inch circle and gently drape over the top of the blueberry filling. Crimp the edges. Using a small, sharp knife, cut six slits in a circular pattern in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape during baking.
Refrigerate the pie until the dough is firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F.
Bake the pie until the crust is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely to set, at least 2 hours.