Friday, March 14, 2014

Freegrace Fridays! Happy Pi(e) Day! Blueberry Brown Butter Custard Pie

It's March 14, which means it's Pi(e) Day!  Get it?  3.14...  And Pie.  Every year I bake a pie, or 10, on the big day and enjoy the sweet pun.  Except most years, I'm gearing up for spring .  I'm doing a little tilling.  I'm getting my sugaring equipment together.  I'm tending to my seedlings.  You get the idea.

This year, I'm shoveling snow. 2 feet, to be exact.  I'm crabby.

Yes.  It's beautiful.  I still want it to go away.

To express my displeasure with this onslaught of the white stuff, I went ahead and baked my pie.  I filled it with blueberries I'd tucked in the freezer from last summer, a season that seems foreign right now.  I topped the blueberries with custard.  I decorated the top with blueberry bush fecundity, all branches, leaves and plump berries.  And once it baked and cooled, I dusted the top with a liberal sprinkling of confectioner's sugar, like all that snow covering my garden and shattering my dreams of fresh blueberries entering my life in the near future.

Freegrace.  Will you ever be free of snow?

At least I've got pie.


For the crust

2 cups flour, cold
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup ice water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
egg wash (1 egg whisked together with 2 tablespoons water)

Preheat oven to 350º.  Spray a 9" pie plate with baker's spray (non-stick spray with flour).  Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt and butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal.

In a small bowl, stir together the water and lemon.  Slowly add the liquid to the flour mixture, pulsing, until the dough just comes together.  Squeeze a small piece of dough between your thumb and index finger to make sure it holds its shape.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half.  Gently turn each dough a few times, gently kneading, until all the dry bits are incorporated and shape into disks.  Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk into a rough 12" circle.  Transfer the dough to the prepared pie plate.  Crimp the edges.  Freeze for 20 minutes.

Line the pie plate with parchment and fill with pie weights or dry beans.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove the weights and parchment and continue baking until the dough has lost its raw dough sheen.  Set aside to cool.

Roll out the second piece of dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Using a sharp paring knife, cut out branch shapes, leaves and using a medium sized plain piping tip, cut out small rounds of dough to resemble blueberries.  Place on a parchment lined sheet pan, brush with egg wash, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For the filling

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
4 ounces unsalted butter
one 8 ounces package mascarpone, I use Vermont Creamery
3 eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and continue simmering over low heat until the butter browns but doesn't burn.  The butter will give off a nutty aroma.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla bean paste and salt.  Continue whisking and slowly pour in the butter, leaving any brown bits behind.  Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth.

Spread the blueberries in an even layer in the pie pan.  Pour the custard over the berries.  Lower the oven heat to 325º and bake the pie for 40-45 minutes until the top has formed a skin but the filling is still pretty jiggly.

Take the pie from the oven and quickly arrange the prepared decorations over the top of the pie and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more or until the filling puffs and barely shimmies in the middle.

Allow the pie to cool completely.  It will "fall" slightly once out of the oven, this is normal!

To finish

1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Sift confectioner's sugar evenly over the top of the pie.