SICHUAN PEPPERCORN BLUEBERRY OATMEAL PIE
A SERIOUSLY FLAKEY PIE
WITH BLUEBERRIES SCENTED WITH FLORAL SICHUAN PEPPERCORNS, MYSTERIOUS AND SUBTLE, AND CREAMY OATMEAL ON THE BOTTOM TO SOAK IT ALL UP
Easy as pie. I’m sorry. Was that supposed to be funny?
Pies are anything but easy. In fact, it took me two years of really, really, humiliatingly sucking at it; and another three years of total denials and nightmarish phobias; and then another year to pick up the pieces of my self-esteem to try again; and then, finally then, last week, before landing on something that I feel happy enough to share with behind closed door. And today, six years plus a couple tweaks later, to talk about it openly on the internet. This recipe is my collected wisdoms on pie-making from years of failures and heartbreaks (think those pies as a house presented with a giant sink hole, sewage flooding and electrical fire, all at the same time).
What it is, is a seriously flakey pie, like no-kiddingly flakey, with blueberries scented with a mysterious, floral tone from sichuan peppercorns that is subtle but distinct, and a bed of creamy oatmeals to soak it all up. The sichuan peppercorns are not gonna make you go “Chinese food!“, ok?, it won’t. It just perfumes the pie. And the oatmeals not only prevents the whole “sewage flooding” issue, but is also texturally more superior than gloppy, cornstarch-thickened mess. In fact, from now on whenever you bake a fruit pie, I suggest you blanket a layer of this on the bottom. It is thirsty for the collapse of your fruits.
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Now, as a general rule of thumb… For those people who were born with mutated abilities to make perfect pies since birth, this may not be a big deal. But I gather that there are also those out there like me with this specific genetic defect, that they might appreciate some tips. And my tips on How To Not Fuck Up A Pie is – Go Gollum. A certain conversation amongst “ourselves” should take place inside our head, to remind us every step of the way that, forget one, it all goes to shit. And my conversation goes like this:
- We wants the butter cold. We needs the butter cold.
- No “peas”. Hate peas. Big, flat diskses of butter created by hands resembling thick coins, are the precious to a super flakey dough.
- Vinegar. Yes, vinegar works. Yes.
- Cold. Liquid, cold. Everything cold.
- Don’t knead the dough. It’s better to use plastic-wraps to bring it into disks! Tricksy.
- The dough. Cold. Before doing anything stupid. Cold
- Cooked fruits are just fruitses but less good. And mushy. Whenever we can, add flavors.
- I don’t know where you come from, Smeagol, but “soup” is not a friend of pie. You want fruit soup, go juice. This is a pie. Soak it up.
- Do not bake until the entire pie is COLD! Motherfucking cold. Don’t make me.
- Finally, did we do all this for soggy lower crust? No, no we did not. Bottom of the oven, 15 min.
Taken that these kind of schizophrenic talks are not always the most well-composed, I’ve detailed every single steps in the recipe-instructions to help you out a bit. I hope it serves you well.
Happy go pie.
- 2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp (15 grams) light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp (3 grams) salt
- 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter, very cold
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) water
- 3 tbsp (45 grams) apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 3 cups (460 grams) blueberry
- 5 tbsp (65 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp ground sichuan peppercorns
- 1 cup (95 grams) quick-cooking oats
- 2 tbsp (28 grams) dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp (26 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) whole milk
- 1 egg wash
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
- PREPARE PIE CRUST: You can make the pie crust with food-processor, pastry-cutter, or stand-mixer. But I find that the most flakey crust results from the FLAT pieces of butter created by hands. So. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, light brown sugar and salt. Cut unsalted butter into large pieces, add into the bowl and coat each evenly with flour. With your fingers, create large, flat pieces of butter by rubbing them off of the large chunks. Each time you rub, coat the butter with lots of flour, and the largest pieces should be about the size of large, THICK coins, until you have something that looks like the first photo.
- Mix water, apple cider vinegar and ice cubes in a bowl. Scatter 8 tbsp of the liquid into the flour-mixture while fluffing with a fork, then bring the dough together by gently folding and pressing it with your hands. It should be very shaggy, and quite dry with lots of loose crumbs. But if the dough has difficulty coming together (very "sandy"), add 1~2 tbsp more liquid.
- Now, don't further knead the dough to try to bring the tiny loose crumbs together (and making it tough). Instead, lay a large piece of plastic-wrap on the counter. Transfer 2/5 of the dough-mixture onto the center of wrap, then bring the sides together until you have a tightly wrapped ball. Press down until it's flattened into a thick disk, then set aside in the fridge. Repeat with the remaining 3/5 of the dough. Let the dough hydrate/chill for at least 30 min, or it can be made the day ahead.
- PREPARE FILLING: In one bowl, toss together blueberry, granulated sugar, lemon juice and ground sichuan peppercorns. In another bowl, mix quick oats, dark brown and granulated sugar until even. Transfer 1/4 cup of the oatmeal-mixture into the blueberry and toss evenly. Then add whole milk to the remaining oatmeal-mixture and mix until resembling wet sand. Set both aside.
- MAKE/BAKE PIE: Take the larger disk of dough out of the fridge and leave the other chilled. Transfer onto a floured surface and roll it out into a slightly thinner than 1/4" (0.5 cm) sheet. Drape the sheet over your rolling pin, then transfer into a pie pan. Gently press it to fit the pan, then cut off the excess dough around the edge. Scatter the oatmeal-mixture on the bottom in a single layer, then top with the blueberry-mixture. Take the smaller disk out of the fridge, onto a floured surface, then roll it out into the same thickness (you can now do cutouts or patterns that you like). Brush the rim of the lower pie crust with egg wash, then drape the top crust over and gently pinch the edges to seal.
- Now CHILL YOUR PIE IN THE FREEZER FOR AT LEAST 30 MIN!!. Start preheating the oven AFTER you form the pie, so it forces you to wait for the pie to chill properly, which is paramount. Now, preheat the oven on 365 F/185 C.
- Brush the entire pie surface with egg wash then sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake in the middle rack for 25 min, then move the pie to sit right at the very bottom of the oven and bake for another 15 min (this gives you that nice crispy bottom-crust instead of soggy one).
- Let cool for 15 min, then serve with scoops of ice creams (blueberry!).
The sweetness level of this pie lands on the mild side, as how I like it. If you want sweeter pie, add more sugar to the blueberries in Step 4.
Dawn BarnhartSeptember 8, 2016 at 12:19 AM
My great-grandmother would approve, Mandy. As a kid, I would watch her make pies and bread – soaking up the same kind of conversation, minus the colorful language. She used a butter/lard mixture in her pie crusts (because that’s what you did back then – so splurge on the butter everyone – she lived to be 103). Flakey, flakey oven toasted heaven! I can taste it now – the pastry was always my favorite part of the pie. I have gone on to pretty much ignore sweets – I’m more of a spicy and savory gal. This pie tho… with the sichuan peppercorns – I will make. And Great-Grandma and I will resume the convo… :)
MeganSeptember 8, 2016 at 12:29 AM
There are indeed many who share your specific genetic defect when it comes to making pie. I am still in the midst of phobias and denial. This is a beautiful pie and I shall endeavor to do it justice.
cynthiaSeptember 8, 2016 at 1:03 AM
Everything about this pie is perfection. That incredible deep color, the blueberries! Sichuan peppercorn! The OATS! I love the idea of oats to soak up the fruity juices so, so so very much — genius as always, Mandy.
AlexSeptember 8, 2016 at 1:05 AM
Your internal Gollum conversation really brought the torment of being a reluctant baker to life. Well done. The photos are *_*!
Jessica CarbonSeptember 8, 2016 at 2:50 AM
wow that crust looks INSANE! Pie is my absolute favorite thing. I’m beyond ready for this to be in my mouth.
ShannaSeptember 8, 2016 at 5:14 AM
Oh my! That pie looks INCREDIBLE! I love adding sichuan peppercorns to sweet things, that numb tongue just somehow fits. Beautiful!
NanceSeptember 8, 2016 at 8:51 AM
Have you tried with any other fruits. I love blueberries but right now I’m baking for my pie. Crazy FIL but the little seeds in the blueberries irritate his dentures
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 9, 2016 at 3:02 PM
Nance, sorry about the late reply! I haven’t tried with other fruits, but I didn’t get any seeds from my blueberries (I do get them from raspberries).
SantiagoSeptember 8, 2016 at 4:40 PM
This looks amazing and so yummy! Congrats for the entire site and the beautiful content you share. I’m going to try this blueberry oatmeal pie and let you know how it goes. Best,
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 9, 2016 at 3:01 PM
Santiago, please do! I’m curious to know if these instructions work for other people (and fellow struggling bakers) :)
georgie / icookstuffSeptember 9, 2016 at 2:51 PM
VERY NICELY DONE little sister … great pics, great twist ! I’ve always loved peppery flavors with fruit, especially pink/red peppercorns. I like your version a lot. And next time, instead of beating yourself up & tearing out your hair after years of trying and finally very very very successfully & triumphantly making PIE, just ask one of your blogger friends … but then again, i also know how satisfying self-discovery & research & trials are too !
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 9, 2016 at 3:00 PM
Hahaha, did I ever mention that I also suffer from can’t-follow-instruction-discorder?
georgie / icookstuffSeptember 9, 2016 at 10:03 PM
ha ha haaaa (as i fling my head backwards and an eerie echo resounds) … the only instructions i can follow are my own scribblings too …. is that BAD ?! take care, GT
KimSeptember 13, 2016 at 7:48 AM
Tip #9 legitimately made me laugh out loud. And baking the pie on the bottom of the oven is BRILLIANT. I’ve suffered from good-crust-but-soggy-undercooked-bottom my entire baking life. I can’t believe I never thought of this. Thanks, Mandy! I can’t wait until I meet my next batch of fresh berries. :)
NixSeptember 13, 2016 at 12:23 PM
awww i ran out of apple cider vinegar. Can i use regular white vinegar? God your pie is beautiful. A friend recently brought home like 10 whole young coconuts so I’m planning to make a buko (young coconut) pie
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 13, 2016 at 1:31 PM
Hi Nix, yeah try a milder vinegar so that it doesn’t taste sour, but I think white vinegar should work, too.
SofiaSeptember 13, 2016 at 9:16 PM
You actually made me feel so much better in my struggle towards making a “perfect” pie, I was beginning to think I was the only one. Hey my pies are delicious, just not photogenic yet… Yours looks delicious!
MaëvaSeptember 14, 2016 at 4:56 PM
Looking like a pretty decadent pie! I love it, the shots are awesome.
SabrinaSeptember 19, 2016 at 6:34 PM
Love this pie! The flavors sound amazing, the oatmeal is a really interesting thickener, and your technique for that flakey crust is much appreciated :)
KateSeptember 20, 2016 at 6:00 AM
This looks so amazing! The oatmeal?! Delicious. I’m going to make this and now, if you please, could you post recipes for every other type of fruit? Starting with apples? Thank you so very, very much!
KillySeptember 23, 2016 at 3:57 AM
Mandy, perhaps because I am so disillusioned by the world, I rarely ever find recipes on blogs I want to make. Your website is the exception – all the recipes are so original, interesting, and so beautifully presented. I can’t even tell you how many recipes I’ve bookmarked here to attempt in the future, or how much I appreciate your blog’s evolution. Just adding another to the list with this one. Keep doing what you’re doing, please!
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 23, 2016 at 12:19 PM
erickSeptember 29, 2016 at 12:01 AM
I hate commenting before I actually make it, but I am… I am going to make this. But, I have to tell you that I spent six months making quiche crusts in my kitchen every day. My significant other was so sick of our home smelling like crust. In fact, I stopped making the quiche filling, and would send the crusts off with her to work to give to her friends. They liked it. You touched a nerve with this one though and I’ll explain: many blogs and tv shows show you how effortlessly they make pies and crusts. Some whacko making it with vodka, etc. What they don’t show you is the end result – they don’t show you the soggy crust, or the burnt crust. Many of them just pounce out recipe after recipe. A nice picture is easy, but you can’t cyber taste…
SamanthaOctober 29, 2016 at 12:20 AM
Your choice of language is absolute wondrous. Your photos look stunning and who knew, Sichuan peppers in a pie? Genius. Looking forward to all your future endeavours.
greyDecember 3, 2016 at 10:18 AM
Just found your blog today. You had me at Go Gollum.
kimithyJanuary 25, 2017 at 6:50 AM
OH gawd, thank you for the Gollum tips. I will forever speak to myself this way when baking now, which will surely terrify my partner.
BathshebaJanuary 27, 2017 at 1:24 PM
A late discovery… We lovses this bitches…Who said that? Shut-up. Gollum.
ReniNovember 11, 2017 at 5:25 AM
Well, I feel like shit. I have no blueberries. No oatmeal. And not many brains. But I will go to the store and make this absolutely beautiful and tasty looking masterpiece! Never have I been able to make pie crust – never! I can do everything else…
ReniNovember 11, 2017 at 5:26 AM
Oh, one more thing to you brush egg wash on top too?
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 11, 2017 at 12:52 PM
Reni, hi there! Yes egg wash on top for sure :). Thanks for all the nice comments by the way.
MelanieDecember 1, 2017 at 2:20 PM
This maybe an excellent recipe however the use of obscene and vulgar language has no place!
MayteFebruary 3, 2018 at 11:47 PM
You have an amazing web with amazing recipes and pictures.
I would like to try your blueberry pie, however I am confused about the cup of ice cubes for the crust. The required liquids for the crust are 120 grams water, 45 grams vinegar… but how many grams of iced cubes ?? or perhaps you just need the ice cubes to keep the liquids very very cold?
And another question… have you ever tried margarine (I have a cholesterol problem)? If I use margarine, should I add it to the flour mix directly from the freezer so it’s not so soft?
Thank you very much and again congratulations for your web.
mandy@ladyandpupsFebruary 3, 2018 at 11:56 PM
Mayte, the ice cubes are just there to chill the liquid. You don’t actually add it to the dough. And I haven’t worked with margarine before so I can’t say at all, but butter contains liquid and that’s what’s going puff up and make the crust flakey :)
MayteFebruary 8, 2018 at 12:40 AM
Thank you Mandy :))
MayteMay 9, 2018 at 6:02 PM
MayteMay 9, 2018 at 6:06 PM
Can I use frozen blueberries? Thank you :))
mandy@ladyandpupsMay 9, 2018 at 7:44 PM
Mayte, my only concern is if the frozen blueberries will be too watery after baking, but I guess that would just make a saucier pie which is fine :)
Peggy ChowApril 22, 2019 at 2:57 PM
Can I just make the pie a day before and freeze it for the night before baking it the next morning?
mandy@ladyandpupsApril 23, 2019 at 12:49 AM
Hi Peggy, I’m worried that freezing/thawing blueberries would make them watery. But it’s worth a try if you don’t mind a possibly more runny pie.