Fresh fruits and homemade crust make for a popular seasonal treat

Intro by Pam George  |  Photographs by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the July 2015 issue

blueberrypieFew summer desserts are greeted with as much satisfaction as a freshly baked pie. Picture a golden-brown crust packed with sweet — and a little bit tart — seasonal fruit. Pam Minhas should know. Pie crust is the first thing she teaches new employees to make at Baked Coffee Bar, a bakery, coffee shop and deli in Dewey Beach. “It’s an easy recipe to memorize, and it allows new staff to immediately get their hands into dough,” she says. “Everyone knows that if you want to be a baker, you’ve got to love dough.”

Minhas learned that later in life. She and twin sister Patty grew up cooking for the family because their mother worked long hours. But when it came to a career, the Camp Springs, Md., native took the practical route. She spent seven years in the Army in personnel management, which involved travel to Korea, where she was exposed to exotic flavors, including fermented foods. She also spent time in California, the “salad bowl” of the U.S., which in the 1980s pioneered the farm-to-table movement. She lived in a vibrant Indian community and learned to love Indian foods. After getting a degree in business management, Minhas spent 21 years as an IT manager for Maple Press in York, Pa. In 2007, she took the culinary plunge and opened a wine bar and bistro in Harrisburg, but within two years she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. As a distraction from the chemotherapy treatments, she took a college-level online chocolate-making course and decided then that her next career would be a sweet one at the beach.

Baked Coffee Bar's Blueberry Pie

For the all-butter pie crust:
(Makes two deep-dish, 9-inch pie crusts)
3    cups of flour
1    teaspoon of salt
1    tablespoon of sugar
1⁄2    pound of frozen butter
(two sticks), cut into pieces
3⁄4    cup of ice-cold water or replace 1 tablespoon of the water with 1 tablespoon of vodka (vodka evaporates faster, creating a flakier crust)
Flour for the rolling surface

In a Cuisinart, mix the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of marbles (not peas). “You want to see the butter in this dough,” says Minhas, who uses a Cuisinart to make the dough, so no kneading is required. Add the liquid. Mix until the dough comes together. Don’t over-mix. Remove the dough from the food processor and divide into two equal balls. Shape the balls into round disks, wrap in parchment paper and then plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for three months. (Thaw in the fridge.)

If cooking immediately, let the dough rest for 15 minutes in the refrigerator. The dough should be cold when you roll it. Use two balls if you want a top to the pie; one if the pie is open or has a butter-crumb topping. Flour a surface. Add dough and flatten into a round shape. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s bigger than your pie pan. Gently lay it in the pan. (Don’t stretch.) Crimp the edges. While making the filling, put the pie plate with crust into the freezer.

For the blueberry filling:
1⁄2    cup of sugar
3    tablespoons of cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1⁄4    cup of water
1    teaspoon of grated lemon zest plus
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
5    cups of blueberries
1    tablespoon of butter
1    teaspoon of cinnamon mixed with
1 tablespoon of sugar

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the first four ingredients until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice. Pour the mixture over the blueberries. Add butter and stir until melted. Cool. Remove pie crust from the freezer and dust with cinnamon-sugar. Pour the blueberry mix into the pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes.