I was pretty disappointed on Saturday because I missed my favorite Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building due to a long run and a beer festival (I know, world’s saddest song on the smallest violin, right?). The Farmer’s Market (a San Francisco staple) is my favorite place to buy fresh, local produce – especially stone fruits and blueberries, both of which I eat like the world is ending throughout the summer. When I walked in to my local Trader Joe’s on Sunday morning, I was prepared to buy just the weekly necessities when something amazing happened: 2 lbs of blueberries on sale for $6. Two. Pounds. Of. Blueberries. For. Six. Dollars. Without a second thought I threw the box into my basket, and instead of paying attention to my grocery list, I started dreaming of all the delicious things I could make with two full pounds of blueberries…
I immediately thought of blueberry pie, but with only two people in the house, I wanted something a little more individualized and portable so that the boyfriend and I could share the deliciousness with our coworkers. Cue the pocket pie: the perfect way to make single-serve pie that can easily be shared with neighbors, coworkers, or … yourself.
Though it might appear that these pies were created in response to the popular Toaster Strudels or Pop-Tarts, I must assure you, that just isn’t the case. However – if you or someone close to you prefers these mass-produced pastries, I urge you to feed them one of these and see how they respond.
That said, I’m not one to eat something this sweet for breakfast; instead, the boyfriend and I enjoyed these pockets of blueberry deliciousness after lunch… and dinner… and as soon as they cooled enough to be handled…. Can you blame us?
You may also be wondering why I chose to call out the fact that there are only 7 ingredients in this recipe. Let me tell you…
Many people find pies and pastry to be complicated and intimidating: I wanted to showcase their simplicity by highlighting the low ingredient count. I also wanted to gently hint that a good pie doesn’t need lots of ingredients, some of which you may or may not be able to pronounce. Next time you pick up a pie or breakfast pastry from the prepared-food section of your market, I urge you to read the label. Do you know what all of those ingredients are? Could you find them in the isles of that market, and use them effectively in your own kitchen? If not, I might suggest that you reconsider your purchase, and try to make a homemade version instead.
I used an all-butter pie crust here, as I always do. As you can see from the photo above, there are some amazing layers to sink your teeth into. I attribute these layers to the aforementioned all butter pastry, and the fact that I always make my pastry by hand and not with a food processor. I personally find the texture preferable, and I find the process of hand-cutting butter into flour a soothing one. No matter your preference, just take a minute to close your eyes and imagine all those flaky layers crackling between your teeth….
You can really make either the rectangular shape I’ve featured predominately, or the less culturally iconic circular hand pie. I recommend the rectangular shape because I found that it allowed me to maximize my dough (I prefer not to re-roll the scraps). If you do choose to make circular pocket pies, you’ll find yourself with more dough scraps and blueberry pie filling leftovers than you would with the rectangular shape. To use them up, fill a ramekin or two with the remaining blueberry mixture. Cut the pastry scraps into approximately equal-sized pieces, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Freeze the pastry scraps for 15 minutes. Bake both at 425° for 15-20 minutes, or until the blueberry filling is bubbling and the crust scraps are golden brown. If one finishes before the other, just take it out.
Baking for one? No problem! Prepare the full recipe as instructed, then freeze on a sheet pan until rock hard. Wrap individually in plastic wrap AND tinfoil, then transfer to a freezer bag for long-term storage. These should stay good for a few months in your freezer (if they last that long!). Heat as directed when you’re ready to consume, just be aware that your cooking time will increase by about ten minutes.
- 3 C all purpose flour
- 1 TBSP granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp table salt
- 1 C cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1 C ice water
- 2/3 C fresh blueberries
- 2 TBSP vanilla sugar or granulated white sugar
- 1 TBSP demerara sugar (can use raw sugar or granulated in a pinch, it just won't sparkle as much)
- 1/4 tsp lemon zest (approximately the zest of half a lemon)
- 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately the juice of a quarter lemon)
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1 egg
- 1 TBSP water
- Mix flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl
- Add cold butter cubes to flour bowl; toss to coat all cubes with flour
- Cut butter into flour using a pastry cutter, or transfer to a food processor. Either cut by hand or pulse the processor until the butter is the size of peas
- Add water, 1 TBSP at a time, until the dough just comes together. For me this can be anywhere from 1/2 C to 3/4 C depending on the day.
- Turn dough out onto a clean work surface or cutting board and separate into two even mounds.
- Shape into discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- Separate the blueberries into 2, 1/3 C portions
- Using the bottom of a glass or sturdy measuring cup, crush 1/3 C blueberries. The berries don't need to be completely pulverized, they just need to be slightly broken. Per Alton Brown's blueberry episode, this releases pectin and helps the filling bind
- Combine crushed and whole blueberries and add sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
- Sprinkle cornstarch over blueberry mixture and gentle stir until fully combined
- Crack egg into a small bowl and beat with 1 TBSP water. This is an egg wash; set it aside while you roll out your dough
- Working through one disk of dough at a time, roll into a rough rectangle that can be trimmed to a 6 inch by 16 inch rectangle (props if you can hit this exactly)
- As mentioned above, trim your rolled out dough into a 6"x16" rectangle
- Then, cut straight down the middle to create two, 3"x16" rectangles
- Gently score one side of one strip of dough every 3 inches so that when cut all the way through, you have 4 rectangles, each measuring 3"x4". Have you made ravioli before? If so, this process will seem familiar
- Brush the scored dough with the egg wash so that you outline the aforementioned 4 rectangles with the egg wash
- Spoon about a teaspoon and a half of the blueberry mixture into the middle of each egg-washed rectangle
- Gently lay your other strip of dough over the top of the filling, and press around the filling to remove excess air, and seal the pastry
- Cut the pastry into four rectangles, using your score marks as a guide. Make sure to cut through both layers of dough
- Press the tines of a fork into the outermost quarter inch of the pastry to crimp. This is what really seals the layers of pastry, and what will keep your filling between the two dough slices instead of on your sheet pan
- Lay your pocket pies on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and set aside in the refrigerator
- Repeat the shaping process with the other sheet of dough; once 8 total pocket pies are prepared, brush the top of each with egg wash, sprinkle with demerara sugar, and use a paring knife to cut a steam vent in the center of the pastry
- Freeze the pocket pies for 20 minutes [alternately, you can freeze them all until rock hard and bake off as desired]
- Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes (took 17 on the nose in my oven)
- Transfer immediately to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature
- Store any uneaten blueberry pocket pies in a loose tinfoil envelope to preserve the texture of the crust
Use a pizza wheel to cut the dough! It's a lot easier this way.
Leftover blueberries? Lots of dough scraps? Put your leftover blueberries in a ramekin (or two). Cut the dough scraps into even(ish)-sized pieces; brush with egg wash, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and freeze for 20 minutes on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Place ramekins on sheet pan with crust scraps and bake at 425 until the blueberries are bubbling and the dough is browned. If one finishes first, just take it out of the oven and let cool while the other finishes.
Did this recipe work for you? Did you make any delicious substitutions? I want to hear about them!