This mini Bourbon Blueberry Pie combines winter warmth with summer berries! Wrapped in a flaky crust, the filling relies on natural sweetness to highlight the amazing flavors.
A friend once asked me to bring pumpkin pie for Friday night dinner. I politely declined. For one thing, I haven’t gotten over my pumpkin pie aversion (I prefer apple or blueberry pies). On top of that, Thursday afternoon simply wasn’t enough advance notice for me to learn to make pie. I was intimidated by the notion of making it from scratch, yet buying a crust felt like cheating on an exam. I felt stuck in a vicious no-pie cycle.
Until I cleared the shelves in Trader Joe’s of unsalted butter and tore open a new bag of flour. It was supposed to be for cookies, but then I stumbled across mini pie tins on sale at Marshall’s and suddenly my head was filled with shiny golden lattices on top of bubbling blueberry filling. Next I bought a miniature bottle of bourbon (there’s a clear theme) to spike the filling and can’t get over how adorable it is. Those cookies will have to wait.
Occasionally I test myself in the kitchen. Instead of researching first, I take an “act now, ask later” approach, throw ingredients into a mixing bowl, and send up a little prayer. Please please please let this concoction be edible. I’ll be more careful next time, just please let this one work. Amen. After approximately 197836190 batches of cookies, I’m pretty confident I can whip up a batch on my own. But pie? Nu uh. No way. Homemade pie crust was hidden away in the dusty back corner of the basement that no one wants to go to alone.
So I took a friend. Well, really I phoned a friend. Okay, okay, I texted a friend and also read every article I could find written by my pie whiz, Erin McDowell. (All right, I promise that was the last lie. She’s definitely a pie whiz, but she’s not mine. We can share.) The first rule in pie club, according to my sources, is “CHILL IT FOREVER.”
Let’s just say that I didn’t exactly follow the rules in batch number one. My butter chunks started to melt all over the rolling pin; I was sure that would be the end of my flaky layers. A quick pop in the freezer before baking did the trick, despite the dough’s rough beginning. When I tried to cut a slice of pie, the crust actually shattered under the knife because it was so flaky.
Although it tasted delicious— when does bourbon blueberry pie not?—I tweaked batch number two, braving the freezing cold to trudge down the hill to the grocery store for more frozen blueberries. Thankfully my tiny bourbon bottle had just enough left. I used Erin’s ratio of flour to butter so that the dough is easier to work with. Next, I increased the lemon zest for extra zing and convinced myself to be patient and let the dough chill completely. The only improvement the filling needed was a small change in the line-up. Adding the bourbon later, rather than at the beginning, helps it stand strong alongside the blueberry and lemon.
Don’t you wish you could order this to drink at a bar? As a cocktail? With a tiny slice of this bourbon blueberry pie on the rim of the glass.
- FOR THE PIE CRUST:
- 2½ cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 large lemon, zested
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½" cubes*
- 5-7 tbsp milk
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water, for egg wash
- coarse brown sugar, optional
- FOR THE BOURBON BLUEBERRY FILLING:
- 12 oz frozen blueberries
- ¼ cup honey
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Make the filling: combine the frozen blueberries and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. While they cook down, whisk the corn starch, bourbon, and lemon juice in a glass. Once the blueberries are bubbling and starting to reduce, pour in the corn starch mixture, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until the filling has thickened so that your spatula leaves a trail when pulled through it. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and lemon zest. Toss in the butter cubes, coating them with the flour. Next, begin smushing each cube of butter with your fingers or palms until they are about the size of a walnut half. If at any point the butter is getting too warm, put it in the fridge to chill until firm before continuing.
- Make a well in the center of the butter and flour mixture, adding 5 tablespoons of milk. Start to toss the flour and milk together with your fingers. Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the dough holds together when pressed but is NOT sticky. If your dough crumbles, it is too dry and needs more milk. If it sticks to your hands or the bowl then it is too wet. You can try adding a little more flour at a time.
- Knead the dough gently for 30-60 seconds, so that you don't overactive the gluten and form a tough pie crust. Divide the dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap to chill for 1 hour to overnight.
- When ready to roll out the dough, liberally butter your pie tins and set aside. Roll out one dough disc on a lightly floured surface into a scant ¼" thick circle. Turn the pie tins upside down on the dough and cut out around each one with a paring knife, leaving about ½-1" overhang. Press the dough into each pie tin and divide the bourbon blueberry filing evenly between each. Place in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Roll the second dough disc into a large ¼" thick rectangle. Slice it into 18 strips widthwise. Take one pie tin out of the fridge and lay 3 strips vertically across the top, leaving some overhang on each side. Put 1 strip horizontally and weave it under the first vertical, over the second, and under the third. Weave a second horizontal strip in the opposite order, going over, under, over. For the third strip repeat the pattern of the first. Press all of the strips into the edges of the pie to seal them on, then slice off any overhang. Repeat with the remaining two pies and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Brush the pie crusts with egg wash and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is a deep golden-brown. Let cool in the tins on a wire rack.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the fridge for 1 week.
*I find it best to cut the butter before measuring anything, then sticking it in the freezer until you're ready for it.