Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. My daughter is a bit of an artist and loves playing with her various colours of modelling clay. One thing she loves is making me food – exquisite miniature interpretations of whatever I can dream up. The other day she had grabbed the yellow, black and purple, and asked what she should make. She looked at the yellow and black and decided to do something with poppy seeds and lemon, and the purple just cried out to become ersatz blueberries. And, in that instant, I was struck by the desire to experiment with a lemon and poppy seed crust, which would (of course) be home to a blueberry pie.
I based the crust on my friend Michal’s amazing short crust pastry (recipe for a smaller quantity of the pastry dough here), but with a healthy dose of lemon rind and some lemon juice, and the filling is pretty much stolen from the Perfect Blueberry Pie Filling I found on Food.com. I tinkered with it slightly, because I do that, but it’s probably amazing made exactly according to the recipe.
The results – yummy! The tang of the crust perfectly offsets the sweet and luscious berry filling, which is a temptation in its own right, and should be approached slowly, and with a spoon and no witnesses. Enjoy this with a cup of tea or coffee, and a good friend or two. Or alone, in a dark room. With no witnesses. I won’t tell that you ate the whole thing.
Blueberry Pie in a Lemon-Poppy Seed Crust
- 200 g cold butter
- 100 g icing sugar
- 300 g flour
- 1 egg
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 TBSP poppy seeds
- Combine the butter, flour and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process it briefly until it reaches a course meal texture. If you don’t have a food processor, cut the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives.
- Add the egg, lemon juice, zest and seeds. Continue processing until you have a smooth dough.
- Chill for at least half an hour, since it will be too soft to work with as is.
- Roll 2/3 of this dough to make the bottom crust for the pie and press into a pie dish. Prebake at 350 for 15 minutes, using a blind (a bunch of dried beans works perfectly) to stop the bottom from puffing up and bubbling.
- Fill, add the top crust (using the remaining dough), and bake as directed below.
- 4 cups blueberries (frozen work fine)
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 3 TBSP cornstarch
- 3TBSP cold water
- 1 tsp lemon zest or extract
- 2 TBSP butter
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, heat 2 cups of the berries along with the sugar for about 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is very liquidy.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water, and when it’s completely mixed, pour into the saucepan with the hot berry mixture. Stir thoroughly, and keep stirring until the mixture comes to a full boil and thickens.
- Let cool slightly, then add the rest of the berries, along with the butter. If using fresh berries, you can let the mixture cool till warm, but add the butter to the thick sauce while it’s hot.
- Let cool to room temperature before adding to pie crust. Add the top crust in a lattice or whatever decorative top suits your fancy. Brush the top crust with a beaten egg or a thin honey/water mixture, and sprinkle with a touch of granulated sugar and some more poppy seeds.
- Place in a preheated oven at 400F, but reduce heat immediately to 375F. Bake about 40 minutes, checking part-way though to see if the crust edge is browning too quickly. If so, protect it with some strips of aluminium foil. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.