This past weekend for Labor Day, our apartment hosted a pie party.
Always a fan of alliteration, the plan was Pies on the Patio. However as the tip of the tail of Hermine swept across Boston, we were relegated to dine indoors.
I realized near the end that this party was full of men and women from nearly every period of my life – a major achievement having moved so many times. My brother, who’s of course known me since childhood, a friend from high school, several from college and one representative of grad school. Friends from Sofra and from Simple Church and from my home church here in the city.
I love that the mention of pie can pull together people from the far-corners of my many communities, all sitting together in my living room on a windy afternoon.
The only community not represented was from my time with Mercy Ships.
Rather that 7-month adventure was represented through one of the pies. This Blueberry Buttermilk Slab Pie to be exact.
It was inspired by a berry pie I made for my 19th birthday, while sailing across the Atlantic from Cotonou, Benin to Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It was during that season that I began dreaming of baking professionally; I reflect back with fondness on the items I cobbled together using whatever ingredients I could find (I’m still not sure how I managed to acquire berries in Benin). I’d spend hours researching the science of baking to ensure my substitutions would suffice.
Slab pies (pies made in a rectangular sheet pan rather than a traditional round) have been making a comeback this year, and I’m on a latticing streak as of late. Thus it seemed only reasonable to re-make this beauty and serve it to all of my friends
blueberry buttermilk slab pie
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
6 tablespoons ice cold water
1 egg (reserved for the end)
4 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
1. To prepare the crust: Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, a food processor, or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour and salt until it is combined into pea-sized pieces and the flour just begins to clump together.
2. Add the ice water and mix just until it begins to form one piece.
3. Transfer the dough onto a clean surface and gently work it together until it forms a dough. There will still be streaks of butter – this is okay! It will keeps things flakey in the end. Form into two rectangles about 4 inches by 2 inches, and 2 inches deep. Wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 2 weeks.
4. Once the dough is chilled, roll one rectangle until it will fit into a quarter sheet pan (a small jelly roll pan) with about one inch of extra on each side. Spray pan with non-stick spray, then transfer the dough into the pan.
5. Spread half of the blueberries across the bottom of the crust.
6. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add in the buttermilk, egg yolks, and melted butter. Pour into the base of the pie over the blueberries.
7. Top the filling with the second half of the berries.
8. Roll out the second rectangle of dough. Slice into 20 thin strips.
9. Place 7 strips equal distances horizontally across the dough. Pull back every other strip and place one piece vertically across the remaining four. Alternate and repeat until 7 strips have been placed vertically across the pie.
10. Trim the edges of the crust with a pastry wheel, then place four strips on top of the outside edges to create a clean edge around the pie. With the remaining two strips, form a flower to place on the top left corner. Let rest in the refrigerator for half an hour while preheating the oven to 375°F.
11. Brush the crust with an egg wash and bake for 45 minutes.
12. Let cool and serve!
if you don't care to lattice, you can create the top crust using any design that you like. simply drop pieces atop the pie if you prefer the simplest route. on my original, i crossed the pieces vertically and horizontally, i just didn't worry about the weave of the lattice.
either fresh or frozen blueberries will work for this recipe. i made this one at the tail end of maine's wild blueberry season so i was able to use the signature tiny sweet berries, however any sort will do.