Every Good Pie Begins with Butter.

With blueberry season fading fast, I figured I'd better make good on my pie promise before they all disappeared.  I'm not above using ready made pie crust, but I wanted some flour therapy and everyone knows homemade pie = love, so I pulled out the cream cheese recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible. This is, indeed a very comprehensive book about pies.  I won't lie: It makes my eyes glaze over at times, and I tend to skip a lot of the technical explanations.  The recipe is fantastic, though. Since I was making hand pies, I doubled the recipe, and I still had some filling left over. I'll probably make paletas with it -- or just eat it straight from the bowl.

Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust (makes one single crust):

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon pastry flour or 1 cup bleached All-purpose flour, (dip and sweep method)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, cold
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar


Instructions

1. Cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

2. Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Set the bag aside.

3. Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of peas; toss with a fork to see it better. Remove the cover and add the water and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together. Spoon it into the plastic bag and for a double pie crust divide the mixture in half at this point.

4. Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it from the outside of the bag with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.

5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten it into a disk, and refrigerate it for at least 45 minutes and preferably overnight.

6. Remove the dough for the bottom crust from the refrigerator. If necessary, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes or until it is soft enough to roll.

7. On a floured pastry cloth or between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the bottom crust 1/8-inch thick or less and 12 inches in diameter. **Transfer it to a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.

** I did not do this part  - at this point, I used a biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the dough for hand pies.

For the blueberry filling, I used 2 pints of blueberries, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and I chopped up a few sprigs of fresh mint. I mixed it all together and let it sit for a few minutes. Then I spooned a big glob onto a circle of pie dough, put another on top, crimped the edges with a fork, cut slits in it, sprinkled it with sugar (I used plain old granulated sugar, but I think next time I'll try to find some coarse sugar crystals) and put it on a cookie sheet. I baked it at 425 for about 35 minutes. 

They turned out a little "rustic" looking, but really, is there any such thing as ugly pie? It certainly tasted lovely.