Friday, August 12, 2011

Oh me, oh my, blueberry pie

A few weeks ago I decided to unnecessarily torture myself and give up a whole lot of really good foods. I started feeling the need to detox, so I eliminated the seven foods that apparently trigger most food sensitivities: wheat, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, peanuts and sugar. The first week I actually eliminated a few other things too, like red meat and tomatoes, shellfish, strawberries and oranges. I’ve since started eating these again with no adverse effects.

Anyway, it’s going well, much better than expected, I really thought I would be attacking a plate of pasta or a baguette within the first week!

I’ve managed to curb my strongest cravings with some trail mix or dark chocolate and rice cakes for the nighttime, tv munchies and I just held strong against the carb cravings and those are slowly getting better. But I did develop an unhealthy obsession towards pies and cakes, and finding a wheat-free, dairy-free alternative, also I had some fresh blueberries from my friend's garden and I simply couldn’t let them go to waste. So I got on the internet (as we are wont to do) and researched all manner of gluten-free pie crusts. I settled on this buckwheat one because it seemed closest to the real thing.

I used ghee and vegetable oil for the fats, but for you vegans out there you can just use vegetable oil.

Sorry for the crappy pictures but I’m terrible at photo editing and I was too concentrated on getting the stupid piecrust right so probably had my camera on the wrong program. My comments on how the pie actually turned out at the end.

This is what you need:

Buckwheat flour
400 grams (3 cups) organic buckwheat flour
2 tbsp. (35grams) sugar (I used white but suggest raw cane sugar which I had finished)
1tsp (about 2grams) salt
130 grams (about 10 tbsp.) margarine – the original recipe called for this amount of butter which I didn’t use because of the lactose

60 grams ghee – the original recipe called for this much Crisco which I don’t use cause of the hydrogenated oils, I don’t think ghee is vegan friendly, but it is fine for lactose intolerants.
1 cup of ice cold water

This is what you do:
First of all put your cup of water in the freezer with a few ice cubes while you prepare the rest.
Then, mix the buckwheat, sugar and salt in a medium bowl (I sifted them out of habit, but not sure that’s necessary).
Cut your fats (margarine and ghee) in teaspoon sized chunks and put in the mixture. 

Use your hands to work the flour and fats by rubbing the mixture between thumb and fingers and letting it fall back in the bowl. This will take a few minutes, and you should end up with sandy looking flour and the fats are pretty incorporated but not dissolved.

Pour the cold water slowly in a circle and mix with the other hand. You probably won’t need the whole cup, so pour very carefully. You want the dough to be moist and stick together if you press some in your hand, it shouldn't fall apart.

When you have the right consistency, divide the dough into two balls (I weighed mine… one was 350 grams – for the bottom crust and the top crust one was about 370 grams). Flatten the dough balls out some and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour – I was in a rush so stuck them in freezer for about 15 minutes while I prepped the filling.

Rolling out the crust:
When your filling’s ready you can roll out your crust. This is where it gets tricky… I usually roll out traditional piecrusts on a sheet of floured parchment paper and with a cold rolling pin and never had any problems. Not so with buckwheat. Buckwheat crusts completely fall apart when rolled, it was a humongous mess which left me frustrated to no end. 

I then decided to cut my losses, stuck the broken pieces of crust in my lightly oiled pie dish and stuck them together with my fingers. I then used a small rolling pin with a handle (mine is from Tupperware and I LOVE IT!) to roll the dough out directly in the pan. It came out perfect, thin and even, up the sides and everything!

The hard part was the top crust, there was no way that I could see to make a whole piecrust for the top so I rolled out small pieces at a time and cut them in flower shapes with a cookie cutter and just settled them on top of the filling. I was tired and impatient at that point so my top crust isn’t as thin as I would have liked but for a first effort it’s passable.
Also, I used rice flour on the wax paper instead of wheat flour.

I adapted the basic blueberry pie Joy of Cooking recipe that I always use.

This is what you need:
5 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
3 ½ to 4 tbsp. cornstarch (I used only 3 tbsp. arrowroot powder cause not eating corn)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp salt

This is what you do:

First off, let me just say that when I started making the filling I realized the husband had used up some of my blueberries for his smoothie. After internally fuming for a few minutes I composed myself and debated sending him to the store for some more, but it was too close to dinner time and he was on his way out to a work thing so I restrained myself and used my imagination instead. I ended up using 3 cups fresh blueberries and 2 cups dried (I sooo don’t recommend this!), I also ended up putting some red currants I had lying around cause honestly their too tart to eat and I never know what the hell to do with them when people give them to me.

Back to the filling: You just mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for 15 – 30 minutes (while you roll out your piecrust). You then poke holes in your crust with a fork, spread the filling in there dot with butter or ghee (or nothing at all, have never noticed a significant advantage to this step) and cover with whatever method you prefer (whole crust, cut outs, strips…).
Pie sitting in oven, waiting patiently for me to take stupid pictures before closing the door and letting it cook in peace.

Stick in the preheated oven at 220°C (425°F) for 20-30 minutes (depends how thick your crust is – I did 20 minutes) and then  lower to 180°C (375°F) for another 30 – 35 minutes. Let cool completely (at least two hours!)

Notes for the future: the filling was awesome as usual except for the stupid dried blueberries which are slightly tarter than fresh and the wrong consistency.
The crust on the other hand needs some improvement. I think it probably needed another spoonful of sugar cause the taste was too “vegetable-y” or ideally some honey, though I have no idea how that would react in a piecrust. Will try it out soon though.

Buckwheat flour is heavier than wheat flour and the crust had that typical “health food” after taste that I don’t particularly love, which is why I think honey and maybe some vanilla or cinnamon would work to cover it up. Apart from that, I’m happy with the result. I needed something for these wheat-free days! Next time I’m going to try a slightly more decadent, more flavorful chocolate – hazelnut filling, which should steer the attention directly away from it being a “healthy alternative”.

Oh, also, I highly recommend getting someone to help you, I did!


  1. Mmm, I could eat those blueberries all by themselves!

  2. I love the decoration on that cake, so pretty. Unfortunately most things healthy really do taste at least a little healthy but those blueberries, oh my... and your little helper is adorable.

  3. Beautiful! Can I have a slice? Many attempts, but I have never managed such a gorgeous pie crust.  

  4. There is some real artistry going on here...

  5. tis the season! We're drowning in blueberries!

  6. Thanks! She's more for show than actual help right now as you well know but I'm slowly training her!

  7. Thanks! To be honest it looked better than it tasted but I'm working on making it less "healthy" !!

  8. It keeps me from thinking of all the really yummy, store-bought things I could be eating!