I did it.
I made a pretty, all-butter, lattice FREAKIN' pie.
One that didn't have shrunken crusts or sides that slipped down the pan. One that didn't have tears in the lattice, misweaved braids, or bumpy crusts. Instead, this pie checks all the qualities in my definition of a perfect pie:
- A flaky, flavorful all-butter crust that doesn't get soggy at the base. Check.
- A pretty lattice crust that isn't shrunken, uneven, or torn in any way, complete with a beautiful, golden-brown finish. Check.
- A fruit filling that takes advantage of the seasons, isn't too sweet, and sets properly. The pie should be easily divided into several slices without spilling out into the pan when initially cut. Check, check, check, and check.
Well, sirs and madams, I'm pretty sure that this blueberry, peach, and lavender pie matches all above criteria.
If you've been a long time reader of my blog, you'll know that this pie has been years in the making. Pie, in general, has been my least favorite thing to make because for a long time, pie and I were at war with each other. No matter what recipe I tried — whether it be Deb's savory cream cheese crust, or that famous Cook's Illustrated pie crust with the vodka, or even Four & Twenty Blackbirds' apple cider vinegar one — I just never quite got it. There was always, always something wrong.
I was all "oh yeah, I can make a good pie, don't even worry about it" for a while, but the truth is, I was a big, fat, phony FAKE. I whipped up a variety of tasty but not-pastry-based fruit pies. This passionfruit cream pie? Used a shortbread cookie crust instead of traditional dough. This banana cream pie? You guessed it — chocolate cookies. And key lime pie, one of my favorite desserts? One of the reasons I love it so much is because it uses graham crackers to make its crust. All three are very, very, very delicious, but when examined together, pretty indicative of my former fear of making and using all-butter pie dough.
What motivated me in the end? I don't even really know. Maybe it was the countless berries and stonefruits I kept seeing week after week at the farmer's markets. Maybe it was all the beautiful pies on Yossy's and Erin's instagram feeds. But it was time to learn how to do it right, how to do it well. Since mid-July, I've been making a pie almost every other week, trying to get it down to a tee. I used the same Four & Twenty Blackbirds all-butter pie crust recipe over and over again, to the point where I could recite its ingredients and instructions in my sleep. Gradually, progress emerged. There was this almost-there bourbon and brown sugar peach pie that was worth sharing. And finally, there's this pie. Which, to me, is perfect.
I hope you think so too.
Some baker's notes:
- To give my pie a lavender flavor, I used this lavender extract from Hatchery. You can also find lavender extract online at Amazon, or in specialty baking stores. Alternatively, make your own! Combine about 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers and 3 tablespoons high quality vodka in a small glass jar, and shake, shake, shake. Keep in a cool, dark place overnight to allow the vodka to soak in the lavender flavor and fragrance. Strain out the lavender flowers before using, and voila! Homemade lavender extract.
- I still stand by this guide that I wrote a few months ago filled with all my best pie baking tips. Remember the basics — use a metal pan, keep your ingredients and your equipment as cold as possible, don't be scared to use tons of flour when rolling out, and don't panic.
- When crimping the edges of the pie with a fork, I find it's best to slide the fork out from the dough as opposed to pulling it upwards. This will help mold the pie dough onto your pan and in general, helps keep the crimp of the edge better.
Blueberry, Peach, and Lavender "Perfect" Pie
(crust from Four & Twenty Blackbirds' Pie Book, filling by yours truly)
For the All-Butter Pie Crust:
(makes one 9-inch lattice pie)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ice
For the Blueberry, Peach, and Lavender Filling:
(makes one 9-inch lattice pie)
(makes one 9-inch lattice pie)
- 1 pint fresh or frozen blueberries
- 2 medium peaches, sliced into 1/2- inch and 1-inch chunks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lavender extract (see baker's notes)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- dark brown sugar, for sprinkling
For the All-Butter Pie Crust:
- In a medium bowl, stir together 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Add 1 cup cold unsalted butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or a spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay — be careful not to overblend).
- In a liquid measuring bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup cold water, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup ice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons if the ice water mixture over the flour mixture (from the first step), continuing to use the pastry blender to cut the water into the mixture until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, using your hands to mix until the dough comes together in a ball with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, and, if necessary, sprinkle any dry bits with small drops of ice water to combine. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Shape one portion into a rough disc, and the other into a rough rectangle. Wrap both in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
- Once the dough has chilled overnight and has the texture and consistency of saltwater taffy, it's ready to be rolled. Liberally sprinkle a work surface with flour (see baker's notes). Unwrap the circular portion of dough (but keep the rectangular portion in the fridge!) and place it on the work surface, sprinkling its top with flour. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes. If the dough seems too sticky at first, add flour liberally. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure, from the center out, moving the pie dough around every quarter to roll it evenly. Roll the the dough to about 11 to 12 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick (place your pie plate upside down over it to check its size).
- Move the dough into the pie plate by folding it into quarters, then moving it into the plate and unfolding it. When the dough is in the plate, press it firmly into the bottom and sides of the plate. Use kitchen shears to trim the excess dough, leaving about 1/4-inch overhang over the pie plate's rim. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the coldest part of the refrigerator while you roll out the second portion of dough.
- Re-flour your surface and roll the second disc of dough into a rough 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Use a pastry wheel or sharp paring knife to cut several 2-inch strips. Transfer the strips to a parchment lined sheet pan, loosely covering with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer while you make the pie filling.
For the Blueberry, Peach, and Lavender Filling and the Lattice Top:
- In a medium bowl, toss together 1 pint blueberries, 2 sliced peaches, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons lavender extract until well combined.
- Use a spoon to transfer the pie filling into the cold pie crust base, spreading the filling evenly across the base. It's important that you make the filling to be as even and flat as possible — the more even it is, the prettier your lattice will be.
- Once you've spread and flattened out the fruit filling, use the chilled strips to weave a lattice top (check out this awesome Food52 video for visual instructions!). Use kitchen shears to shorten and fit the strips onto the pie, before using a fork to crimp the base and the strips onto the base.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer to chill for 1 hour before baking.
Baking the Pie:
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Line a baking sheet big enough to hold the pie tin with parchment paper.
- When the oven is preheated, make the eggwash by whisking together 1 large egg with 1 teaspoon water. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash onto the lattice top and border of the pie crust base, sprinkling granulated sugar over the eggwash. Place on the prepared baking sheet and immediately transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the pie is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If the edges brown too quickly, cover with a loose sheet of foil.
- Cool on a wire rack for 35 to 45 minutes before serving warm, with a dollop of cold whipped cream or ice cream.