When it comes to fruit pies, to thicken or not to thicken, that is the question. I’m talking about the filling, of course! I like a fruit pie that still tastes and looks like the fruit it was made of, not too gelatinous like the filling came from a can. I came up with the perfect compromise: cook down about a third of the fruit, add a small amount of cornstarch to thicken and fold in the rest of the fruit. You’ll end up with a pie that still lets the fruit shine. With blueberries in season and lemon balm invading my garden like a weed, it seemed like the perfect pie to bake. With ginger, lemon zest, nutmeg and cinnamon, this pie says summer in every bite.
BLUEBERRY LEMON PIE WITH LEMON BALM CRUST
6 c of blueberries (3 pints)
3/4 c sugar
3 T of cornstarch
3 T water
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
2 T butter
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
1 pinch salt
sugar for pastry top
3 T lemon flavored herb such as lemon balm, lemon basil or lemon thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 pie crusts
1- Preheat oven at 400 F. In a casserole, combine 2 cups of blueberries with sugar. Simmer over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the berries start to cook down into jam consistency.
2- Dissolve cornstarch into water then add to saucepan. Bring to a boil, while stirring, then reduce heat and cook until mixture is thickened and clear.
3- Add the remaining 4 cups of blueberries, butter and spices and stir to just combine.
4- Spinkle your prepared pie crust with the chopped lemon balm.
5- Pour fruit mixture on top.
6- Create lattice strips or other shapes of pastry cut outs to top pie. I made pastry stars since I was taking this pie to a dinner under the stars. Brush top crust lightly with the egg wash and salt mixture. Sprinkle with sugar. Place pie on a cookie sheet to catch overflow juices. Reduce heat to 375F once pie is in oven. Bake for 45 minutes. This method will produce a perfect mix of fruit filling with a unaltered texture of the fruit with just the right amount of binding for thickening. My final pie was a bit runny but I like it this way. If you want a more gelled pie filling, cook down half of your fruit and add one more tablespoon of cornstarch and water each.