You’ve been asking for them, here they are… just in time for the last hurrah of the 2014 wild blueberry season:
Frank’s secrets to the perfect blueberry pie.
Frank made pies in threes: one for tonight, one for breakfast, one to take to a friend. The ingredients are simple. Even if you only leave your wilderness cabin once a year to resupply, you have what you need.
6 cups flour. Sift first before measuring, then fork gently into measuring cup and resift.
1 T salt. Just stir into flour with your fork.
2 cups Crisco (not butter-flavored). Cut the 1st cup in fine with the fork till there are really no lumps. Then add the 2nd cup and cut in coarse. The lumps layer in the rolled crust, making it flakey. (That may be the most important secret right there.)
1 cup water. Sprinkle it in by spoonfuls, mixing with fork until you can form a ball.
Frank never bought a berry at the store. He grew up picking them as a job, and kept right on harvesting every season. He soaked the berries in saltwater to get the worms out, picked off any stems. If there were a lot of leaves, he used the vacuum cleaner hose in reverse to blow them clean, the noise riling the dog and briefly drowning out Gordon Lightfoot on the record player.
Measure a pie dish full of berries (slightly heaped) before you roll out the crust. Then do it twice more so you have enough berries for 3 pies. For each pie, mix the berries in a bowl with 1/4 cup minute tapioca and ~3/4 cup sugar.
Now divide the pie dough into 6 portions and roll out. If you cut the Crisco right per #1 Secret above, it should roll out smooth and elastic into 3 bottom crusts and 3 top circles.*
Sprinkle the top of the berries with a dash of cinnamon before putting on the top crust. Seal top to bottom crust with a little cold water, press together with fork, and pinch ruffle.
(OK, that pinch ruffle part? That sounds way easier than it actually is.)
Brush canned milk onto the top.
This is an Alaskan recipe that assumes you may not have a grocery with cream anywhere nearby. As you see from the photo, Half & Half works great, too.
Before you pop the pies in the oven, pierce a few steam holes and bake at 425.
You probably have some little scraps of pie crust left over that you trimmed off the edges. Frank spread these with butter, sprinkled on cinnamon and sugar, and rolled into mini “cinnamon rolls”.
Take the pies out when juice begins to bubble out through the steam holes.
*Disclaimer: I can’t guarantee your crust will roll out perfectly. Even watching Frank make pies a hundred times, I have never been able to repeat the magic of his crust. Mine falls apart before it ever gets into the pie dish. Our third sister paid better attention to the Pie Master. Thanks to Anya, we have these photos to illustrate perfect pies with Frank’s secrets.