So, it has come to my attention that I’m another year older. I don’t want to sound like a grouch about birthdays, because I think it’s a great idea to celebrate the lives of the people you love, but I just haven’t had a great birthday in a while. Last night, although I wanted very much to have a nice, simple night out, I was feeling just a little too woozy to enjoy my evening.
Luckily, though, whatever bug I’ve got seems to rear its ugly head the most at night – which means decent mornings and manageable afternoons. Which means plenty of time to make and enjoy pie.
When I was little, one of my favorite things in the world was blueberry pie. For several years in a row, that was the only thing I would ask for on my big day. With my birthday right at the beginning of spring, the days were getting longer, the air was getting warmer, and blueberry pie was like stretching my arms out for the coming summer.
This year, in memory of happier birthdays past, I wanted to make myself something a little nostalgic. Just a little, though – I also wanted to take the opportunity to try my hand at a gluten-free, vegan pie crust. And, as you may have noticed, this isn’t just a blueberry pie, either – it’s blueberry apricot pie. Apricots might not be in season yet, but that’s why I give thanks for frozen produce. Hallelujah!
Lately I’ve been obsessed with this blueberry/apricot combo. I like to stir together a handful of blueberries and a couple of tablespoons apricot preserves over low heat, and then pour over vanilla ice cream. It has to be my favorite ice cream topper, at the moment – which is saying a lot. Adding apricot to this pie was definitely the right choice. And topping it with vegan vanilla ice cream? Also, the right choice. Man, I’m good!
While we’re on the subject of how awesome I am, as some of you may remember from back at the beginning of this blog, I went blueberry picking. I hauled in nearly 12 lbs. of berries, and after using some to make jam I washed and froze the rest to use through the winter season – planning ahead for just such an occasion as this.
There are a few changes I will make the next time I try this, which are reflected in the recipe below. Such as adding a bit more corn starch to keep the filling from being so soupy, and more apricots. Besides some minor adjustments, though, I would call this pie a winner. The crust came out delicate and flaky, and really was “easy as pie” to make. I’ll definitely be revisiting this, and well before my next birthday… those apricots better ripen up quick!
Blueberry Apricot Pie
(Vegan, gluten-free – crust adapted from the Gluten-Free Canteen)
For the crust:
300 grams (about 2 cups) gluten-free flour mix (plus extra for dusting/rolling)
1/4 tsp. salt
200 grams (about1 1/2 cups packed) vegetable shortening, chilled
100 grams (about 1/2 cup) ice cold water
2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp. almond extract (optional – reduce water by 1 tsp.)
1 tsp. lemon or orange zest (optional)
1 TBSP oil or melted margarine (for brushing the crust)
1 TBSP coarse sugar (optional, for sprinkling over the top)
For the filling:
1 LB. (about 4 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 lb. (about 2 cups) fresh or frozen apricot, sliced (if you can’t find apricots, peaches would make a good substitute)
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 TBSP corn starch
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 TBSP lemon or orange juice
1 tsp. lemon or orange zest
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
For the crust
In the bowl of your food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the chilled shortening (and zest if using), and pulse 20-25 times, just enough that it looks like coarse sand.
Dump the contents of the food processor into a large bowl, pour the water (and extract if using) over the top and begin to fold and press it in with a rubber spatula. Keep ‘kneading’ with the spatula until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough. Reach in and split the dough in two, forming each half into a ball. Flatten each ball slightly into a disc, and wrap in plastic wrap or seal in a zip-top bag. Refrigerate for a few hours, or up to a few days before using, or place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes while prepping the rest of the pie.
In a pot over medium heat, combine the all of the fruit, preserves, sugar, water, corn starch, citrus, and cinnamon if using. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil, adjusting the heat if necessary. Let simmer until the corn starch has thickened, then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool while you roll out the crust.
Preheat the oven to 400f.
Remove one disc of the dough from the plastic wrap and place on top of a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. The parchment is very important, because the dough is extremely delicate and crumbly, and without it would fall apart being transported to the pie pan.
Dust the top of the dough with flour, and begin rolling. If the edges split and crumble, just pinch them back with your fingers and continue rolling. Add flour as needed.
Once the dough is big enough to fit the bottom of your pie pan, lift the parchment paper and carefully drape the crust into the pan. Peel away the parchment, tear off the excess dough, and crimp the edges.
Repeat the rolling, on top of parchment paper, with the second disc of dough. Set aside.
Pour the filling into the bottom crust of the pie. Top with the second crust, crimp the edges, and cut a few slits or decorative holes in the top.
Brush lightly with oil or melted margarine, and optionally sprinkle with a TBSP of coarse sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350f. and rotate the pie. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.
Let pie cool slightly before cutting into it… if you can wait!