One of my favorite places for brunch when I lived in NYC was Grange Hall. It was in what used to be a speakeasy in the West Village. Besides their amazing Amish Potatoes (which was something I was never quite able to duplicate), they also made really good blueberry cornmeal pancakes. When I saw this recipe, it reminded me of the pancakes, so I decided to make it.
I was a little disappointed by having to use shortening (it’s been my goal to perfect crust without using it), but I got over it. It was easy and uneventful to put together, so that was no biggie. I did however, run into a couple of snags with the berries.
I didn’t read the recipe before I went to the store, so I only had 4 cups of blueberries instead of 5. This is something I realized after already measuring out the sugar and cornstarch, but before adding the berries, so I just scooped out a small amount of the mixture. I let the berries and sugar mixture sit for 30min as instructed, but there really wasn’t much juice coming out of the berries. I let it sit for another 10 minutes and nothing. Then I put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds at half power and still nothing. 10 minutes later we had a little juice happening, not a lot, but enough that I was ok with putting it in the oven. I tasted the juice to make sure it was sweet enough, but all I could taste was cornstarch, and the texture was very floury. I became very nervous and was convinced that the pie wouldn’t bake long enough to cook out the starch. So I rinsed off all the berries (they were still pretty firm) and started again. But this time, I used flour (something that I always do on my own. It’s usually a crap shoot whether or not I use enough so the filling isn’t runny). Instead of waiting another 30 minutes, I put it in the microwave for one minute added a dash of cinnamon, and put the pie in the oven.
One hour and fifteen minutes later I took the pie out and it looked pretty firm. Yay! Then I moved it from the counter to the table to take a couple of pictures and the juice started sloshing around (crap!). Now I’m sure I’ve ruined it. I grabbed a syringe, took out some of the juice, mixed it with a little flour, squeezed it back into the pie and put it in the oven (turned off) and let it sit until the oven was cool. I was hoping that as it cooled, it would jell a bit.
The first slice let me know that it really didn’t (oh well). I took it to a friend’s house, who was making dinner and we watched the filling run with every slice. I should have followed the recipe. Luckily the pie was very tasty. I was hoping that the crust would have more of a corny flavor, but the texture was like a hearty grainy crust, in a good way. As with most of my recipes, I will have to make this one again.
Blueberry Pie with Cornmeal Crust
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornmeal ((stone-ground, medium grind if possible))
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons ((1 3/4 sticks total) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
- 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening (, frozen, cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
- 4 tablespoons (or more) ice water
- 5 cups fresh blueberries ((about 27 ounces))
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Milk ((for brushing))
- 1 1/2 tablespoon raw sugar
Make the Crust
- Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and shortening; using a pastry blender or fork, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons ice water; blend just until moist clumps begin to form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into disk. Wrap disks separately in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.
Make the Filling
- Combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water in large bowl; toss to blend. Let stand at room temperature until juices begin to form, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil and place in bottom of oven. On a generously floured surface, roll out 1 dough to 12-inch round. Place dough into 9-inch glass, or metal pie dish. Gently press dough into dish, pressing any cracks together as needed to seal and leaving dough overhang. Spoon filling into pie crust.
- Roll out second dough disk to 12-inch round. Evenly place dough on top of filling. Trim overhang of both crusts to 1 inch. Fold overhang under and press to seal. Crimp edges decoratively. Cut five 2-inch-long slits in top crust of pie. Lightly brush top crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and continue baking until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling thickly through slits, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack.