A few years ago, my husband's birthday was drawing near and I asked him what cake he wanted for the bash. He said he wanted an apple crumble and a blueberry pie instead of cake. He loves these two pies and so do I. I spent a good chunk of my Thanksgiving Eve this year making pies and am very happy to say that they turned out great.
There are a few tricks to pie-making though. First, you need a good crust recipe, but not only a good one, but the right one. For most common fruit pies, you use a raw dough, filled with the filling and topped with more raw dough or a crumble topping or whatever floats your boat. However, when making a pecan or pumpkin pie, or any pie with a liquid filling, you need a pre-baked pie crust to prevent a soggy, undesirable crust in the end.
American Pie Dough for Fruit Pies
from The Best Recipe cookbook
For one double-crust 9-inch pie
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting dough and work surface
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar
12 T. unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
8 T. all-vegetable shortening, chilled
6-8 T ice water
Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat. Cut butter into flour with 5 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal and is a pale yellow. Turn mixture into medium bowl. (I use my pastry blender and cut the butter that way by hand.)
Sprinkle 6 T. water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula, adding only enough water necessary for dough to stick together, up to 2 T. more. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 4-inch wide disk. Dust disks lightly with four, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.
Dust work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out dough for the bottom crust of your pie, so it extends about 2 inches farther than side of pie plate when placed over dough upside down. Dust work surface with flour occasionally to make sure dough doesn't stick. Once dough is rolled out, gently fold dough in quarters to easily transfer to pie plate. Place point in center of pie plate, unfold and gently position dough around edges of plate. Prepare filling and place in pie shell. Prepare top crust and place over top. Trim excess dough around edges. Gently decorate edges of dough to your liking.
For the top dough, you can do a lattice, like I did, or roll out the second dough-disk and do a traditional double crust pie. For lattice directions go here.
3 pints (6 c.) fresh or 36 oz. frozen (thawed) blueberries
3/4 - 1 c. sugar
1/4 c. quick tapioca
2 t. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon zest
1/4 t. ground allspice
pinch grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare fruit filling and let stand for 15 minutes. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into pie shell. Scatter 2 T. butter pieces over fruit. Refrigerate until ready to top with remaining dough.Place pie on cookie sheet to prevent drips onto your oven floor. Bake at 400 until top crust is golden, about 20-25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30-40 minutes until filling is nice a bubbly and crusts are golden. If using a glass pie plate, the bottom crust should also be visibly golden.