If I could assign a personality to a fruit, blueberries would be the “morning person”. You know, the cheerful, sunny one who’s always smiling. Blueberries are down to earth, approachable, sturdy and resilient. They like to be sprinkled over your morning cereal, or folded into muffins and quick breads. Pancakes and waffles both welcome the addition of blueberries. And what makes a better jam or sauce than rich, dark, ripe blueberries?
So I made a pastry that showcases all the charms of beautiful summer blueberries. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I like better than a good blueberry pie. But these pie squares are just so appealing, with their cornmeal crust and maple- sweetened filling. Each one is like your own mini-pie. You can eat them out of hand (sturdy and resilient), or plate them and add a scoop of ice cream. They’re a great snack with a cold glass of milk. And, there’s more to go around than a regular pie. Make a batch today and call your neighbors and friends; blueberries are sunny and cheerful and these will make you smile.
Blueberry Pie Squares
- For the Cornmeal Crust:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter , cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening , cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
- For the Filling:
- 2 pints (4 cups) fresh blueberries, washed and stemmed
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons potato starch
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and toss to mix. With a pastry cutter (or your fingertips), cut the butter into the flour until it is broken into pea-sized pieces. Add the shortening and continue to cut until all the fat is broken down into small pieces.
Sprinkle on half of the buttermilk and toss well with a fork. Add the remaining buttermilk and continue tossing and blending until the mixture is evenly moistened. Add a little more buttermilk if it seems excessively dry.
With your hands, pack the dough into two equal-sized pieces, pressing it gently together. Shape each piece into a rough rectangular shape (this will make it easier to roll later). Wrap each piece in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight, before rolling.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch sheet pan with parchment and lightly butter the sides. Place the chilled dough on a floured work surface and roll to an approximate 10x15-inch rectangle
Carefully fit the pastry into the pan and trim the edges even with the top of the pan. Return to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the blueberries, maple syrup, sugar (adjust to taste), potato starch, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix gently until the starch and sugar are moistened.
Quickly roll out the top crust. Remove the bottom crust from the refrigerator and fill with the blueberries, spreading evenly. Add the top crust and trim even with the top of the pan. Press the edges of the pastry together and seal with the tines of a fork. Cut several steam vents in the top of the pastry and, if you like, brush the top with a little milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue baking for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool for 2 hours before slicing and serving.
These squares are best enjoyed the day they are baked. The crust will soften and lose some of its "crunch" upon standing.
Blueberry pie squares and a glass of milk. Enjoy!