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.
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.