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.