I saw this recipe on America's Test Kitchen on PBS this weekend. It looked so good, we had to try it right away. It is really dellicious!
A note on the use of vodka in the crust: Alcohol is wet, but will not produce gluten in the crust like water will (gluten makes pastries tough and chewy - not what you want in pie). A "wet" dough is necessary to ensure it will roll out thinly enough and create flaky layers. Since vodka is around 50% alcohol and imparts no flavor to the dough, it is a good choice to help make the crust easier to work with. Additionally, since Alcohol boils at 180 degrees and the pie bakes for an hour at an average temperature of 375 degrees, very little (if any) alcohol will remain in the finished pie. If you are opposed to using any alcohol at all (e.g. for religious reasons), you can substitute 2 tablespoons of water for 1/4 cup vodka - just realize that the dough will be much stiffer and harder to roll out.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached)
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 cup shortening, chilled and cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 cup vodka, chilled
- 1/4 cup ice water
Pie Filling Ingredients
- 6 cups (about 30 ounces) fresh blueberries
- 1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
- all the zest and 2 teaspoons juice from one lemon (toss the remaining juice with the apple shreds to keep them from browning)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons minute tapioca, ground in food processor or spice grinder
- pinch table salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- Flour for rolling out the crust
- 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water (AKA "egg wash")
Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until the dough is homogenized and clumps up (around 15 seconds - there should be no "loose" flour left in the bowl). Scrape the dough up with a spatula and evenly distribute around the processor blade. Add remiaining 1 cup flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the dough is broken up, about 4-6 quick pulses. Empty the mixture into a medium bowl.
Sprinkle the vodka and water over the dough and fold with a rubber spatula. Work the dough until it is slightly tacky and all comes together. Divide the dough in half and form into two 4-inch disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes (up to 2 days).
Remove one of the chilled dough disks from the refrigerator and roll out on a generously floured (up to 1/4 cup flour) clean work surface. Form a circle approxamately 12 inches across and 1/8 inch thick. Move the dough onto the center of a pie plate, leaving at least 1 inch of crust hanging off the entire circumference (gently rolling about half the dough onto your rolling pin and then unrolling over the pie pan is an easy way to do this). Working around the edge of the pie pan, slightly lift the dough off the lip and press it onto the bottom and sides of the pan (this ensures the crust is making good contact with the pie pan and will not shrink up or crack as it cooks). Do not trim excess dough yet. Place pie pan in fridge to chill the dough while working on the filling.
Adjust oven rack to it's lowest position, place a sheet pan on the rack and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 cups of berries in a meduim saucepan over medium heat. Mash the berries several times with a potato masher. Cook berries, stirring frequently until the mixture reduces to 1 1/2 cups (about 8 minutes). As the berries cook, mash a few more times to ensure the juices are released. Cool slightly before adding to other ingredients.
Wring out the grated apple in a clean kitchen towel, getting them as dry as possible. Combine apple, cooked and uncooked berries, lemon zest and juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt in a large bowl. Pour into the chilled pie shell and scatter remaining butter pieces over the filling.
Roll out the remaining dough on a generously floured (up to 1/4 cup flour) work surface to an 11-inch circle. Using a small biscuit cutter (about 1 1/4 inches), cut a hole in the middle of the dough disk. Cut an additional 6 holes in the dough, 1 1/2 inches from the first one and evenly distributed around the center. Place the dough on top of the pie (use your rolling pin to help), leaving at least 1/2 inch dough hanging off the edge all around the pie pan.
Using kitchen shears, trim top and bottom crust together to an even 1/2 inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself flush with the edge of the pie plate. Flute the edges using the thumb and forefinger of one hand pressed into the forefinger of the other hand. Brush top crust all over with egg wash. If dough has softened, chill for 10 minutes in the freezer.
Put the pie on the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the juices are bubbly and the crust is a deep golden brown. Cool on a wire rack a room temperature for at least 4 hours. Do not skip the last step - you will be eating blueberry soup if you do!