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!
First, happy birthday Willow! You can eat pie of you want to, be nostalgic if you want to, or do anything you dang well please if you want to! Cause it’s your birthday.
Second, this pie looks DIVINE! I’ve never made a homemade blueberry pie, but I’m thinking I need to!
Third, in this house, birthdays are always celebrated with the aid of a pink boa. I’m sending you a virtual one right now! ;)
Wahoo! Thanks, Jen! *Throws pink boa around neck* I feel fabulous! :)
Happy Happy Birthday Willow! I’m with you on this…I love to celebrate birthdays as long as they aren’t mine :) I think it comes from being the youngest in a big family. I’m just uncomfortable with making a big old deal out of it. I would, however, happily accept this pie from you on my birthday :) What a fantastic combination of flavors!
Thank you! And yeah – I love to treat other’s on their b-day’s, for sure. Sometime I think it’s because there isn’t much I want, or want to do, but people keep asking what I want and how they can make my day special and I feel like I’m letting them down by saying there’s nothing I need. :(
Happy birthday! What a perfect way to celebrate!
That definitely sounds like my kind of birthday. The pie looks gorgeous, and I actually prefer the “soupy” look. It seems much more heartwarming and cozy somehow (which is how a pie should be!).
the cake looks so yummy! yum yum yum LOVE IT- want to eat it right now
xx the cookies
share the feeling
Happy Birthday Willow! This pie looks amazing…and the addition of apricots, WOW!
…12ibs of blueberries, that must have been one awesome patch- where they wild or at a PYO – either way that is alot of blueberry picking :)
Also, high five on trying your hand at gluten free pie crust making – it looks amazing and I love the board you used for the backdrop!
They were a PYO – I wish they’d been wild, but I’m not sure where to find them around here.
Yeah, I was nervous about it but pleased with the results. And thanks! Just plywood from the hardware store with walnut stain. I use it a lot, but I think it did work well here. :)
What am I saying! Wrong backdrop – not stained plywood. :P
It’s the top of a ‘bench’ that I found at a homegoods store. The top is hinged and opens up for storage inside, and is actually where I keep a bunch of my photography props. Yay, multitaskers!
Happy birthday, Willow!
Your pie looks absolutely decadent- and it’s vegan! Brilliantly done, my friend.