Author Notes: Fruit pies and summer go hand in hand. Blueberries and apricots are in season and make a perfect pairing for a slab pie. I took Martha Stewart's basic recipe and tweaked it using some Cook's Illustrated tips and the strawberry jam recipe Cathy Barrow (f52's MrsWheelbarrow) recently published in the New York Times. When I make a standard blueberry pie I use a combination of tapioca starch and pectin from a grated apple as a thickener – a trick I learned from Cook's Illustrated, which makes the best blueberry pie ever. The pectin allows for less starch use, so a more pure fruit flavor shines through. MrsWheelbarrow uses a kiwi fruit as a pectin source in her strawberry jam, so for my slab pie I decided to use a kiwi and tapioca to thicken the fruit. To add some sophistication I incorporated lavender blossoms and verbena leaves. Feel free to omit them if you'd like, and if you can't get verbena you can substitute lemon zest. I also tweaked the crust recipe (using the Cook's Illustrated vodka crust technique) to make the dough easier to work with, and because I like the texture from a mix of butter and vegetable (or in this case) coconut oil. The resulting pie was almost fully consumed at a Fourth of July gathering that had a somewhat insane amount of food, so I know it is pretty delicious! Note: I like to pour liquid coconut oil into a container so it makes a layer somewhere between ¼- and ½-inch thick, then freeze it to make cutting it into small chunks easier. —hardlikearmour
Makes 15- by 10- inch pie
Slab Pie Dough
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup coconut oil, cold, cut into ¼ to ½-inch chunks
- 9 tablespoons (½ cup plus 1 tablespoon) vodka, chilled
- 9 tablespoons water, chilled
- Process 3 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor for 30 seconds to combine. Add the butter and coconut oil, and pulse several times then process for 15 to 20 seconds, until the mixture starts clump together, and there is no visibly dry flour. Scrape the sides of the work bowl, and spread the dough evenly. Add the remaining flour and pulse until well mixed, about 6 to 8 pulses.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Combine the vodka and water, then drizzle over the dough. Use a spatula to mix the dough together. It should be a fairly wet dough. Once the dough sticks together, divide it into 2 unequal portions, the larger using about 60% of the dough. Form each piece of dough into a rectangle about ¾-inch thick. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour.
Pie Filling and Assembly
- 1 1/8 to 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoons tapioca starch (cornstarch will work too)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ tablespoon (1 ½ teaspoons) dried culinary lavender
- ½ tablespoon coarsely chopped lemon verbena leaves
- 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 pints blueberries
- 1 lb apricots, pitted and cut into 12 to 16 pieces per apricot
- 3 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 375º F with a rack near the center.
- Roll the larger piece of dough out into an 18- by 13-inch rectangle (easiest between two pieces of plastic wrap, flour the bottom piece then the dough), then transfer to a jelly roll pan (15- by 10-inch), gently pressing the dough into the sides of the pan, and allowing an equal overhang on each edge. Refrigerate while making the filling.
- Combine sugar, kosher salt, lavender, verbena, cornstarch, and all spice in a food processor. Process until the verbena and lavender have been pulverized. Add the kiwi and lemon juice, and process until homogenous. Transfer to a medium-large bowl, and add the blueberries and apricots. Stir to combine.
- Pour the fruit mixture into the pie-crust covered pan, and distribute evenly. Scrape any residual sugar mixture onto the fruit filling. Refrigerate while rolling out the top crust.
- Roll the remaining dough into a rectangle about 15 ½- by 10 ½- inches (so it fits over the filling of the pie, but doesn't rest atop the bottom crust's overhang. If desired cut vents into the top crust using small cutters, otherwise prick holes in the crust with a fork after the pie is assembled and before it's brushed with half-and-half. Cover the filling with the top crust, trimming excess with a kitchen shears if needed. Use the kitchen shears to remove a triangular shaped piece of the bottom crust from each corner. Brush the edges of the top crust with water, then fold the bottom crust over the top crust. Brush the surface of the pie with half-and-half, then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes rotating the pie about halfway through baking. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool. Allow to cool 45 or more minutes before slicing and serving.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Berry Recipe