Blueberry pie with almond paste streusel
A berry good slice
This is it, the pie I want to make every July when the blueberry bushes are sagging under the weight of purple gems: flaky crust with wholegrains for flavor and heartiness; a generous layer of bright berry filling, set enough to slice but not stodgy or gluey; and a crisp streusel topping studded with oats and little almond paste nuggets.
A good slice, if I do say so myself.
While I personally love making (and eating) double-crusted pies, the rest of my immediate family far prefers streusel-topped ones. So 80% of the time, that’s what I end up making. I favor a two-stage approach to baking streusel pies: first par-baking the bottom crust, then finishing the bake after adding the filling and topping. This ensures a perfectly crisp bottom crust and also breaks up the work into naptime-friendly chunks. The crust, filling, and topping can all be prepped ahead of time, then baked together the day of serving.
Something I often do with fruit pies is pre-activate (or pre-gelatinize) the starch for the filling. Here’s the thing: raw fruit pies take a long time to fully bake! If you’re using cornstarch, one of the most common pie thickeners, your filling must come to a full boil in the very center of the pie in order for all the starch to swell and thicken the fruit juices. If starting completely from raw, this means baking your pie for a LONG TIME, typically well over an hour in my experience.
But…there are other ways! For blueberries in particular, I love this technique from King Arthur Baking where you cook half the berries on the stovetop, adding your thickener once they’re nice and juicy, then mixing in the other (uncooked) half of your berries. The result is a multi-textured filling that holds its shape but still retains pops of fresh fruit, which I think makes for an excellent eating experience.
Because the bottom crust is par-baked and we are fully activating our thickener on the stove, the second stage of baking is just to cook the topping — it’s done when the streusel is nicely browned across the top.
Speaking of streusel — I love the combination of almonds and berries, but my kids will automatically pick off anything even resembling a nut. So I sneak almonds in through a generous amount of almond paste in the streusel, and also scatter a little across the bottom of the pie before adding the filling. If you don’t have nut party poopers in your house, I think a handful of flaked almonds in the streusel would be an excellent addition.
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Blueberry pie with almond paste streusel
For the all-butter crust (makes enough for two single-crust pies or one double-crust pie):
250g all-purpose flour
125g whole-grain flour (such as whole-wheat, spelt, kamut, or rye)
6g (1½ tsp) kosher salt
12g (1 Tbsp) granulated sugar
250g unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½-inch cubes
120g ice water, as needed
For the almond paste streusel:
45g whole wheat flour (typically whatever I used for the crust)
30g all purpose flour
30g rolled oats (regular, not quick)
40g light brown sugar
heaped 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
60g unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½-inch cubes
100g almond paste, crumbled1
For the blueberry filling:
150g granulated sugar, divided
15g all-purpose flour
1000g fresh blueberries, divided
1/2 tsp ground coriander2
3/4 tsp kosher salt
Juice of a lime or half a lemon (~1 Tbsp)
60g almond paste, crumbled (optional)
Make the All-Butter Pie Crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and sugar. Scatter the butter over the top. Use the pads of your fingers to flatten the butter pieces, tossing them with the flour mixture so each piece is coated on all sides. The butter pieces should remain fairly large, about the size of walnut halves. Work quickly so the butter remains cold.
Drizzle about 5 tbsp of the ice water over the flour-butter mixture and use a fork or your hands to “toss” the two together, similar to the way you would dress salad greens. Add water, 1 or 2 tsp at a time, tossing after each addition, until the dough just holds together when you squeeze a bit in your hand. (I usually need between 8 to 10 Tbsp total, but the amount can vary depending on the flour you’re using and the humidity.)
Fold the dough over itself several times, giving the bowl a quarter turn after each fold, to make a cohesive but ragged mass. You should still see visible pieces of butter—this is a good thing! Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a rectangle. Wrap to seal, then use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the dough to about ¾-inch thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly-floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a roughly 13-inch (33-cm) square. Brush off any extra flour and fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Fold into thirds again so you end up with a roughly 4½-inch (11-cm) square. Roll into a ¾-inch-thick rectangle twice as long as it is wide and cut in half. Use your hands to round the edges of each half into a disc. Wrap each half and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. (Dough can also be frozen at this point and defrosted in the fridge overnight before using. You will only need one disc for this recipe; so freeze the other if not using within 2 days.)
Par-bake the crust: Remove one disc chilled pie dough from the fridge and let it stand for about 5 minutes, just long enough to make it pliable. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 13-inch (33-cm) round between ¼- to ⅛-inch thick. Roll from the center out, giving the dough a quarter turn after every roll to avoid sticking and ensure an even thickness. Dust off any excess flour.
Carefully roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unfurl into a standard 9-inch pie plate. Gently lift the edges and press the dough into the bottom and sides of the plate, being careful not to stretch the dough to fit. Trim the overhang to 1 inch all around, then fold the excess dough under itself to form a border. The edge should be flush with the pie plate. Prick the bottom of the dough several times with a fork. Crimp the edges as desired. Chill uncovered until the pastry is firm, 20-30 minutes.
To blind-bake the crust, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the lower third (with a baking stone or steel, if you have one). Place the chilled pie crust on a foil-lined baking sheet. Take a large piece of foil and carefully press it into the chilled pie crust, dull side down (if your foil isn’t wide enough to fully cover the crust, add a second criss-crossed piece). Fill the crust with pie weights of your choice, all the way up to the crimp. Bake the crust for about 25 minutes, or until the crimps are set. (Note: this is a good time to prepare the streusel and filling.)
Remove from the oven and carefully lift out the foil and pie weights. Return the crust to the oven and bake until the crust is completely matte but not yet browned, 5-10 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack until ready to fill (no need to cool it completely). Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.
Make the almond paste streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Scatter the butter and almond paste over the top. Use your fingers to rub the them into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a clumpy cookie dough with no dry bits of flour remaining. Refrigerate until needed.
Prepare the blueberry filling: In a small bowl, whisk together 50g of the sugar, cornstarch, and flour. Set aside.
Place half (500g) of the blueberries in a large heatsafe bowl. Place the other half in a medium saucepan. Crush a large handful of the berries with your hand to get the juices flowing, then stir in the remaining 100g sugar, coriander, salt, and lime or lemon juice. Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cook for two minutes, continuing to stir. After two minutes, stir in the sugar-starch-flour mixture. Continue simmering on medium, stirring constantly, until the filling is very thick. If you drag your spatula along the bottom of the pot, the line should hold.
Scrape the filling over the uncooked berries and stir to combine thoroughly. Give your filling a taste — adjust the seasoning with a bit more sugar, citrus juice, or salt, if desired. The streusel will add sweetness so I like to keep the filling pleasantly tart.
Assemble and finish baking the pie: Scatter the remaining 60g almond paste, if using, evenly across the bottom of the pie crust. Top with the blueberry filling, then sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the top.
Bake until the streusel is golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cool to room temperature before slicing, about 4 hours. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days; or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.