Friday, July 31, 2009


After making an adapted version of Cooks Illustrated blueberry pie, I was anxious to make the real thing. But when I read through the recipe instructions, I almost got dizzy. It was overly complicated, and there didn't seem to be a good reason for some of the complexity. I was surprised that the cinnamon and cardamom in the adapted version were not in the CI original. IMHO, there was not enough lemon juice or tapioca either. (CI felt that the grated apple would produce enough pectin to thicken the blueberry filling.) I added the cinnamon and cardamom and increased the tapioca by 1 Tbsp. and the lemon juice by 1 Tbsp, and this pie was wonderful. Nice thick slices, full of blueberry flavor, a definite winner. The lemon, cinnamon and cardamom worked in the background to make the blueberries the star. CI, take note: I've improved your recipe!

One other change I made was to eliminate the top crust. Who needs the calories? And from readers' comments, the top crust was cumbersome anyway. Everyone had trouble with it, because CI designed a top crust that had circles cut out all around, making the dough hard to handle and hard to place over the filling. Instead, I cut out stars of the leftover dough, and baked them after the pie came out of the oven.
And, oh, yes, another change -- I decided not to grate the apple. I did that with the adapted version and wasn't happy with the way it baked. Instead, I chopped the apple and cooked it with the first half of the berries. This worked much better. The apples are "invisible" in the pie -- you can't taste them or see them. I still think this recipe is overly complicated, even for a masochist like me. A jar of blueberry preserves would work just as well as cooking the blueberries on the stove. But here it is, if you are a glutton for punishment:
The Real Cooks Illustrated Blueberry Pie, Adapted
Rating: 9 out of 10
INGREDIENTS: Cook's Illustrated Vodka Pie Crust (Make it with Limoncello for an even better crust)
6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, chopped
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1-1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar, divided use (I used 1/2 cup sugar + 1-1/2 tsp. Stevia)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
3 Tbsp. instant tapioca, ground (I used my coffee grinder)
pinch of sea salt
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into 1/4" pieces (I used Smart Balance 50/50 butter blend)
Prepare pie crust and refrigerate. When ready to make pie, roll out dough on well-floured surface, fit into 9" pie plate that's been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, trim the overhang, crimp edges and refrigerate. Roll remaining dough out and cut with star-shaped cookie cutters, or other favorite designs. Place "cookies" on a pie plate and refrigerate.
Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack and heat oven to 400F.
Place 3 cups berries, 1/2 cup sugar, zest, juice, tapioca, salt, cinnamon and cardamom in medium bowl. Toss to combine; let stand 1/2 hour.
Place 3 cups berries, chopped apple, and 1/4 cup sugar in saucepan and heat till thickened.
Combine berries; fill chilled pie crust. Dot with butter, pushing the pieces into the filling. Bake on preheated baking sheet for 30 minutes. Cover edges and top of pie with loose tinfoil. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake an additional 45 minutes, or till juices bubble. Transfer to wire rack to cool at least two hours before cutting.
While pie is cooling, brush raw pastry "cookies" with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 10 minutes, or till nicely golden and cooked through. Place decoratively on cooled pie before serving.


Valerina said...

Hopefully CI will heed your advice. :) Sometimes I wonder who edits recipes from some established sites.
I like the stars on your pie. They show up nicely against the blueberry filling. And A Limoncello crust! yum!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Love the stars on top. I'm glad you uncomplicated a complicated recipe. I too feel dizzy sometimes to when I read a recipe. Good job.

Katrina said...

Yum! Love the stars.

Linda said...

Sounds like CI could learn a thing a two from you... your recipe sounds fantastic... as you know ...I like simplified recipes also... Great Job!

Donna-FFW said...

Judy, hopefully CI will heed your advice. You are an inspiration to us all with your detail to your cooking.

Kerstin said...

Nice job improving the recipe, I like all you changes and the stars on top are so pretty!

Lynda said...

I'd love a slice of your yummy pie with my coffe, Judy! Love the star cut-outs!

Sophie said...

You are in a blueberry mood,...
The pie looks so delicous!! Lovely!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful job Judy! I love the stars on top too!

Coleen's Recipes said...

Our oldest son loves blueberries and they are almost ready to pick on the mountain behind us so your post is very timely. I guess I am a purist, because I like blueberries, sugar tapioca and a little butter in my pie filling. I don't even go for the cinnamon or cardamom lol.
Beautiful pie! (thanks for the note).

Debbie said...

Love blueberry pie. CI should send you a note of thanks!!! Beautiful stars on top!

Palidor said...

Yes, I think your recipe is better than the original. Cute idea with the stars too!

Claudia said...

I love your improvements. The stars allow the blueberries to shine. I hope CI heeds your notes! Comments after a recipe are so helpful. Scrumptiously summer.

Sophie said...

Dear Judy: I posted on my latest comments: info on Pimenton de la Vera! I will copy & paste it here too:
Today the finest paprika powder in Spain is made close to the original monastery garden in the fertile alluvial soils around the Tietar River in La Vera where the climate is mild and the rain is plentiful. Here the farmers cultivate different varieties of the paprika genus Capiscum annum, each with varying degrees of pungency.
The harvest begins in the fall where entire families go out into the fields to harvest the little peppers and place them in drying houses where they are smoke-dried with oakwood which must be about five times as great as the amount of the paprika to be obtained. No other wood may be used if the genuine pimentón de la vera is to have its typical taste. The farmer has to go into the smoking house every day for two weeks to turn over the layer of peppers by hand.

Finally the peppers are milled by electrically powered stone wheels which must turn very slowly since friction heat affects the color and flavor. It comes in three varieties: sweet and mild (dulce); bittersweet medium hot (agridulce) and hot (picante) and normally keeps for two years.

The precious powder is indispensable, for many types of Spanish sausage such as chorizo and lomo pork loin. It adds the absolutely perfect taste of authenticity to paellas. It crosses into regular American cuisine as a seasoning for barbecue pork, rich beef and lamb stews, kebabs etc. Pimentón de la Vera is unique - it is only a distant cousin to the Hungarian paprika that is used for Eastern European dishes. Although it is not generally available, even in many gourmet shops, there is no substitute for use in authentic Spanish cooking. You can find it in Spanish food shops.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.

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