Mmmmm…blueberries and pastry…
Okay, I think it's going to be blueberry week here. I've been cranking out blueberry recipes til my hands are purple, and I've got just about enough (in pictures) to take me (and you) through the week.
Well, last Thursday, I made this pie, which you see below. A double-crusted blueberry pie.
I made more pie dough than I needed. I made enough for three crusts, because in the past (and with a different crust recipe) (and with less crust-handling skills, too) I'd make pies and end up with barely enough dough to make the pie look nice. So I started making enough for three crusts, JUST IN CASE, and nowadays, I find myself with extra dough. But that's not a problem, because it's fun to make yummy stuff with that extra dough.
I also, since blueberry picking last Wednesday, had a TON or so of blueberries on hand, and I needed to find clever and yummy things to do with them all.
Oh, yes, it's a hard-knock life.
So after making a bunch of other things, which I will be posting about this week, I was nearing the end of the blueberry supply and that's when I put the two together – leftover dough + blueberries = something good.
So here's what I did.
I took about a cup and a half of blueberries, about half a cup of sugar, and a few shakes of cinnamon into a small pot on the stove and heated it on low and just let it cook away while I was doing other things. The berries would boil a bit, I'd stir now and then just to make sure they weren't sticking (and burning) on the bottom of the pan, and go back to whatever I was doing.
When the mixture had thickened and the berries were pretty well broken down, I took the pot off the stove and poured the mixture through a strainer to get rid of the skins.
I used a rubber spatula to press the pulp through the strainer, and ended up with plenty of syrupy liquid and very little skin debris left.
I kept the pot near a window with a good breeze so it would cool down, and I'd give it a stir now and then, just to check on it. The syrup thickened as it cooled. Blueberries have a fair amount of natural pectin, so they thicken up nicely.
When the blueberry mixture had thickened significantly and cooled to room temp, I scraped it out onto a plate JUST so I could take pictures of it.
It kind of reminded me of canned cranberry jelly.
Then I got my leftover dough out of the fridge and got to work.
I rolled out one of the lumps of dough on the floured countertop…
into a rectangle about 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
Then I smeared a generous amount of the cooked and strained blueberry mixture onto half of the rectangle, like so:
Next, I (carefully – it was a hot day and the dough softened up pretty quickly) folded the other half of the dough over the jam…
and pressed gently around (most of) the edges to seal. I didn't seal everywhere because there was a lot of jam peeking out and I didn't want to make too much of a mess. And "perfectly sealed" wasn't the goal here anyway, because…
I used a pizza wheel to slice the rectangle into strips about a half to three-quarters of an inch wide.
Then I took each strip and gave it two twists, so they all looked (more or less) like this:
All the strips went onto a parchment-lined sheet pan…
and then into the refrigerator for an hour.
Yes, a whole hour. I wanted the dough nice and firm so it wouldn't spread too much once it went into the oven.
I repeated this whole procedure with the second lump of dough, and started my hour from that point.
Don't be discouraged if the dough cracks or is otherwise difficult to work with while you're making these. My second batch was much nicer looking than my first, and I'm sure if I made these on a regular basis, I'd just get better and better. And no matter how they look, they'll taste good.
Okay. When 45 minutes have passed, preheat your oven to 425degrees F and make sure you've got two racks in the oven set so they kind of divide the oven space into thirds. Or, if you're only cooking one pan at a time, center a rack in the middle of the oven.
When the hour is up, whisk an egg with a bit of water and a tiny pinch of salt. The salt helps break down the proteins in the egg and it'll be less stringy. Let that sit for a moment, and go scrounge around in your pantry for your sparkling sugar. You don't have any? Go order some, NOW! Or go buy it. Whatever's quicker. You need to have some on hand ALWAYS.
Okay, once your egg mixture is mixed and your sparkling sugar is at hand, sparkling away, take one of the pans of blueberry twists out of the fridge and, working quickly so the dough doesn't warm up, brush the egg mixture on each twist,
(you can see this is the first batch – there are some sad looking little bits on there)
And then sprinkle the egg-washed twists with sparkling sugar.
Put this pan back in the fridge to stay cold and repeat the egg wash/sugar routine with the second pan. (Of course, if you have only one pan, then you don't need to egg wash anything else. Unless you want to.)
When the oven temperature is at 425, pop the two pans (or one pan) in the oven and bake for approximately twenty minutes. If you're using two pans, switch racks and turn the pans around about halfway through. If you're using one pan, rotate it about halfway through.
When the twists are an appealing golden-brown, pull them from the oven and let them cool a bit on a rack before removing them from the pan and putting them directly on a cooling rack to finish (everyone?) cooling.
And that's about it!
Pile them on a plate and share them with your family and friends, or hide them somewhere and savor them when no one is around. Whatever you want.
Also – keep in mind, these are more flaky than fruity. If you want a ton of fruit in proportion to pastry, make a pie. These are more for the crust-loving folk out there who want a higher pastry to fruit ratio.
They go well with coffee or tea or milk.
And they are small, so they'll go quickly. Grab yours while you can!