Baking Blind: A Beginner’s Pie

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Editor’s note: For the next couple months, our dining intern Lauren Vaught will be blogging weekly about her forays into learning to bake. She starts with a summery classic, a childhood favorite, but will soon be delving into seasonal treats.
Cooking isn’t an everyday activity for me—yet. With the schedule of a student, I’ve lost touch with my oven and formed a dependent relationship with my microwave. But as I come to the end of my college career, I’m beginning to realize how rewarding it is to cook. And I need a bit more reward in my life, so I am making a commitment to myself, a commitment to cook…well, to bake anyway.

The one thing that I am most at ease making is my childhood comfort food: blueberry pie. It would greet me upon arriving at my grandma’s, help me and my cousins learn the chores of the kitchen, and bring a smile to my purple-stained face. I know at the moment it’s out of season, but when entering unfamiliar territory, I find it better to start with something you have history with.

Our baking usually took place in a family group setting, with about seven of us pitching in. We would start the afternoon off picking fresh blueberries (that’s me in the gray shirt and white shorts), then, following lunch, we would wash them and make the filling, my favorite part. I never did get my hands into making the pie crust. The pie crust was usually made by Aunt E’lissa. One setback for me when I embarked on my own bluberry pie:  I’ve never made a pie crust. So I bought a pre-made pie crust (don’t judge me).

Everything else in my solo baking session went swell. I washed the blueberries, measured out the sugar (brown sugar is the secret ingredient), and got my hands dirty mixing it up. I put a lattice pattern on top, complete with a crafty flower I cut from the pie crusts. I managed to make a wreck of my kitchen, with pieces of piecrust strewn about in every direction.

The outcome, though, was positive. I had a wonderful evening with my pie. My roommate Martha even had her first blueberry experience. Even though it’s been years since I made a pie, it felt like yesterday. So I vow, with you as my witness, to keep in touch with my blueberry history, even if only on summer holidays and birthdays. And if the baking continues as smoothly as this, then everyone is in for a treat—made by me. We will see if I can take the heat, or if I get out of the kitchen.

Recipe:

4 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of salt
Pre-made store-bought pie crusts: one for the pie’s base and one or two more for a lattice top (depending on how experienced you are—I messed this up quite a bit and needed more dough to work with). Cut the pie crust for the lattice into one-inch strips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cornstarch with two tablespoons of water until smooth, then combine with blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl. Gently transfer the mixture to the pie shell. Weave the pastry strips in a lattice design across the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly.

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