Pie Party: Lime Chiffon with Blueberries

The flakiest crust in the world.

When I heard about the Pie Party being organized online by Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl and her friends, I knew I had to participate. I grew up eating pie, although I admit I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have then. Now, I’ve come to realize that my mother makes the flakiest crust in the world, and she’s ruined me for almost every other pie crust out there. They simply can’t compete. When I studied baking and pastry at the Culinary Institute of America, I even disdained their crust recipe. All butter sounds like it should be good in a crust, but it doesn’t deliver on the layers.

So over the years, I’ve worked hard to match my mother’s recipe and I’ve even let a little bit of butter into my crust for flavor. Very luckily, I happened to meet Susan Purdy, the author of As Easy as Pie (now reissued as The Perfect Pie), when I was in cooking school. She was working on a book then for reduced-fat recipes and I got to help test those for pie crusts. While they weren’t super flaky, what they taught me was the science of combining different fats and flours for a wide variety of results. My go-to crust recipe, though, is the one from Susan’s pie book. It’s flaky, flavorful, and handles well. While my mother uses her vintage wire pastry blender (see photo), I use my fingers or a newer version of the pie tool from Oxo.

Since I was at my parents’ house last week for a beach vacation, I got not one but two pies from Mom! The first was lemon chiffon, with billowy layers of tart filling against the slightly salty crust. We plowed through it so fast that she made a lime chiffon with blueberries for the second round. The filling comes from her tried-and-true Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book (1956), with the addition of some whipped cream to make it loftier and richer. My mother added the cream after reading a recipe in Gourmet magazine in the seventies and realizing it was similar to chiffon pie filling. The fresh blueberries add a welcome pop every few bites and the dark blue offsets the light green filling nicely.

While I’m willing to bake pie no matter the heat outside, it’s nice to have a refrigerator pie sometimes too. You only have to make one crust, and you can turn off the oven as soon as you prebake the crust.

Lime Chiffon Pie with Blueberries

Makes one 9- or 10-inch pie

How I love you, my little fluffy pie!

Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
3 tablespoons shortening or lard, chilled [I use the non-hydrogenated Crisco]
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or unflavored vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling:
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
4 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream

1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried

To make the Crust: In a large bowl, toss together the flour and salt. Have the ice water ready. Cut the butter and shortening into 1/2-inch cubes and use your fingers or a pastry blender to cut the fat into the flour. Continue blending until there are pieces the size of peas and corn. Drizzle in the lemon juice, tossing the ingredients together, then begin drizzling in the water. Toss thoroughly, but don’t squash the mixture, until it begins to hold together. Set it aside for 5 minutes for the liquid to soak in, or form the dough into a disk on waxed paper, wrap well, and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out the dough between pieces of waxed paper until it is about 11 inches in diameter. Peel off the top sheet of paper, invert the dough over a 9- or 10-inch pie plate, and peel off the bottom sheet of paper. Ease the dough into the pan without stretching it, so that it fits into the corners. Use a paring knife to trim the edge to 3/4 inch beyond the pan edge. Using your fingers, make a decorative fluted edge or just use a fork to mark the edge with lines. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or cover and leave for longer.

Prick the bottom of the pastry with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper that extends over the sides and fill it with 2 or 3 cups of raw rice or beans as weights. Bake the shell for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the liner and weights, lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking an additional 15 minutes, or until the pastry looks golden brown. If it begins to puff, prick the bubble with a fork or knife. Cool the crust on a wire rack until completely at room temperature. (By the way, I let the rice or beans cool and put them back in their bag to be used as I normally would.)

To make the Filling: In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the sugar, the gelatin, water, lime juice, and yolks. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in the zest and put the pan in a sink or bowl of cold water. Cool, stirring occasionally, until the mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon.

While you’re waiting for it to cool, make a meringue by combining the egg whites and cream of tartar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium until frothy. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until the mixture forms medium (slightly droopy) peaks. Fold the meringue into the cooled lime mixture.

In the same mixing bowl, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Fold it into the lime mixture along with the blueberries, until almost no white streaks show. Pile the filling into the cooled pie shell and refrigerate. Let it set for several hours before serving. Don’t cover the pie with plastic wrap or it will mar the top surface. You can press plastic against the cut edges of the pie if you don’t finish it all at once!

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