I consider wild blueberries to be somewhat of a luxury. Just a few weeks ago, I saw a large basket of wild blueberries sold for $100 at Montreal’s Jean Talon market. I gasped and remembered the huge patch of wild blueberries we stumbled on in the woods near my parents’ cottage last year and figured we would have made a small fortune if we had harvested them all. This year, my parents went out there again to discover that the hot and dry summer we enjoyed so much had made it difficult for the blueberries to grow and they were considerably harder to find.
As a result, we’ve been buying them at Quebec City’s farmers’ market (sold at a much more reasonable price than in Montreal) and eating them sprinkled on cereals every morning for the past month. Last week, we spotted a particularly good-looking basket and E suggested we made a pie with it. Having never made blueberry pie before, I was a little nervous about the project because I didn’t want to waste such a large quantity of delicate fruits! I decided to make a classic lattice-top pie and read many different recipes before choosing the technique I would use.
The pie turned out better than any I had ever tasted before. Mashing a cup of the blueberries with a little cornstarch and flour, before mixing this ‘paste’ back in with the fresh blueberries was the genius trick that allowed the pie’s filling to set. Another key step is to let the pie cool at room temperature for at least two hours before attacking it. This is torture because by then, the whole house smells like warm blueberry compote and the pie is all luscious and oozy and warm – you just want to dive in! You must resist, as this resting period is essential to allow the filling to set so it’s super juicy but holds its own when you slice the pie.
I can’t think of a better way to highlight precious wild blueberries: this pie showcases them in all their deep purple, naturally sweet goodness. It’s a dessert that is glorious in its simplicity, one that’ll make the months before next year’s harvest feel very, very long.
Classic Lattice-Top Wild Blueberry Pie
Pâte brisée, yielding two crusts, divided in two disks, chilled
8 cups [2 L] wild blueberries, picked over, rinsed and thoroughly dried
½ cup [125 ml] sugar
2 tbsp [30 ml] cornstarch
2 tbsp [30 ml] all-purpose flour
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
Pinch sea or kosher salt
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp [15 ml] water
2 tbsp [30 ml] coarse sugar or maple sugar
All-purpose flour, for rolling
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. Fit dough into a lightly greased 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into edges. Trim dough, leaving a ½-inch [1.25-cm] overhang all around. Fold edge of dough over or under. Refrigerate.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the second disk of dough to a rough rectangular shape that’s about 1/8-inch [0.3-cm] thick. With a knife or a pizza cutter, cut about 16 strips of dough that are ½-inch [1.25-cm] wide. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Arrange 8 of the dough strips horizontally ½-inch [1.25-cm] apart. These will be the “bottom” strips.
Fold back every other bottom strip to the left slightly more than halfway. Slightly left of center, lay down one “top” strip vertically over the bottom strips. Unfold the bottom strips. Fold back the other 4 bottom strips to the left, and lay a second strip ½-inch [1.25-cm] to the right of the first. These are the two center strips. Unfold the bottom strips. Repeat the process on both sides with the remaining strips of dough.
Loosely cover the lattice with plastic wrap and place the cookie sheet in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Preheat oven to 400°F [200°C].
Place the blueberries in a large bowl. Scoop up about 1 cup [250 ml] of blueberries and put them in another medium-sized bowl. Add sugar, cornstarch, flour, lemon zest and juice, and the salt. Mash with a potato masher or a fork until the cornstarch and flour have dissolved and the mixture is almost homogenous (there will be bits of blueberries throughout). Pour the mixture in the large bowl containing the remaining blueberries and carefully fold it in until the blueberries are all coated with the “glue”. Spoon the mixture into the chilled pie shell, gently pressing down on the berries if needed so that they all fit into the pie (they will cook down a little).
Remove lattice from the freezer, and carefully invert it over the blueberry filling. The lattice should be pretty stiff by now, so let it rest about 5 minutes so it softens a little. Trim excess lattice dough, leaving a ½-inch overhand all around. Tuck edge of lattice between the edge of the bottom dough and the rim of the pan. Using your fingers, press both layers of dough along the edge to seal, and crimp as desired. Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and water. Brush lattice with the egg mixture, and sprinkle with coarse sugar or maple sugar all over. Bake until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F [175°C]. Continue baking, rotating sheet halfway through, until the crust is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling and thick, 40 to 50 minutes more.
Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours before serving it. The pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but you can make it up to 1 day ahead and store it, covered loosely with plastic wrap when cool, at room temperature. Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.