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During WWII while my father was fighting in Europe, my mother supported us by working at the Table Talk Pies Inc. Located in Worcester, Massachusetts and established in 1924. Like many other business of that time, they started as a very small neighborhood business and sold their pies in horse drawn carriages around town. Table Talk still exists today with distribution and production all around the country.
My mother perfected her pie baking and was the expert among our family and friends. She sold her pies in our family business “Turo’s Market” on Shrewsbury Street, Worcester MA. (no longer exists). We moved to the country in a house my parents built in the middle of an apple orchard. Every Sunday she would baked all sorts of pies of the season and family and friends filled our house for coffee and pie. When the fruit was first in season she would make us all our own pie and set it down in front of us for one big start of the season pie feast. She made a large assortment of pies but two were always the most popular and that was blueberry and apple pies (apples picked in our backyard).
To this day everyone in our family remembers these Sunday afternoons with such fond memories. Besides always having a huge crowd around our house on the weekends, the sent of fresh baked pies in her country kitchen still lingers with me today. Everyone in our family tries to create the very same flavor that she perfected. Somehow we never are able to recreate the same taste, but that is probably because we just can’t duplicate those wonderful times that went with friends, coffee and a piece of pie with ice cream. Pies are still a large part of our family get-togethers and she still fills our discussions as we compete for the title of best family pie baker.
Fruit pies are very simple and only require the minimum amount of ingredients. Sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, butter, a little flour or cornstarch and that is it. If you try to complicate it, you will affect the fresh flavors of the fruit. Fresh fruit pies are not about being creative, but about the clean flavors and the juices of ripe fruit -and there is the key, ripe fruit.
Make sure when you are buying blueberries that they are firm, plump, fragrant, and dark blue. Remove stems and any berries that are green or not ripe. Most of us today use cultivated berries and they can also be bought frozen. We always went blueberry picking at farms and collected large quantities that we froze and had blueberry pies all winter. They freeze beautifully and are great just to pop a few in your mouth as a snack frozen. You can put them into your pie frozen and you wouldn’t know that they had been picked months before.
Blueberries are also well known for their health benefits. Enjoy my Moms recipe!
Basic Pie Crust
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cold solid vegetable shortening (one cup of shortening if you eliminate the butter)
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (the butter makes the crust flaky)
2/3 cup ice-cold water (as needed)
Other Items needed
Mixer or rolling pin
9” pie plate
DOUGH USING A MIXER OR PROCESSOR
Mix the flour, shortening, and salt until it looks like a crumb mixture. Add the butter to the crumb mixture. The mixer or processor does a good job of crumbing the mixture. The butter should only be pulsated a few times to assure it isn’t over processed. The original recipe calls for a total of 1 cup of shortening; you can use a mixture of butter and shortening. Remove it from the mixer or processor and mix 2/3 cup of ice-cold water a little at a time until the dough forms. You may not need the entire amount of water. DO NOT OVER PROCESS OR KNEAD THE DOUGH. Once you have brought all the ingredients together, cut it in half and form a disk shape by patting it with your hands and put it in plastic storage bags. Refrigerate them for at least 1/2 hour.
If you are mixing the dough by hand, place the flour in a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Cut the shortening into small pieces and crumble it either with you hands or with a fork. Cut in the butter, in larger chunks. Add the ice-cold water and bring it together into a ball, the same as the directions above.
NOTE: You can add a little cinnamon, lemon zest or sugar if you like into the flour mixture.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 52 minutes, 12 minutes at 420º F, 40 minutes @ 350ºF
Yield: 8 servings
6 cups fresh blueberries, enough to fill a 9” pie plate
3/ 4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 lemon (zest only)
1/8 pound butter, cut into cubes
Other Things Needed
3 ziti pasta
Roll out one half of the dough and place it into a 9” pie plate. Refrigerate the other half for the top.
Put the blueberries into a bowl and add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and zest and toss the berries until they are completely covered with the ingredients. Pour them into the uncooked piecrust and dot the top with butter. Roll out the second piece of dough and cover the top of the pie. Even out the dough around the rim and crimp the edges. With a knife, puncture at 3 holes and stick in a piece of ziti pasta in each hole. The ziti will act as little chimneys and let out the steam.
Bake in the middle of the oven at 420º F for 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350º F and cook for another 40 minutes. Remove the pie when it is brown on the top and put it on a rack to cool. Once at room temperature, put it in the refrigerator.
Serve cold with vanilla ice cream.
NOTE: You can brush the top of the piecrust with an egg wash or cream to give it a more golden color or sprinkle a little sugar on the top.
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