Your teatime will be served warmer with this homemade blueberry pie!Victoria Drey
Out of the dozens of berries traditionally beloved and used in Russian cuisine, blueberry is the one that definitely takes pride of place. What makes it so extra special is that blueberry grows in the forests exclusively – meaning this berry is 100% pure and natural. That’s why along with wild strawberry, blueberry has always been considered as the most useful and healthy berry since the days of Old Rus. Furthermore, there is a Slavic folk wisdom which has it that a house with blueberries on the table has no need for a doctor. Sort of like how in English you say: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
In Russia’s forests blueberry season is quite brief: on average from July until early September. I prefer gathering them from August until the end of the season, because in this period blueberries become much sweeter and richer in taste, as a counter to early blueberries that are too watery. I always eat the better half of the blueberry harvest and never actually use it for cooking. However, after my first attempt of baking with blueberry I realized that blueberry pastry is the best for those who don’t like sugary desserts. Since they’re sweet and not at all sour, blueberries act as a natural sweetener. So, you don’t really need to add much sugar.
Blueberry cakes are nothing new: there are numerous variations in American, Finnish and many more cuisines, but this one is definitely Russian because of the ultimate tvorog dough that’s so popular in Slavic cuisine. It’s so tender, airy and at the same time rich – honestly, it is my favorite dough for any type of pastry, from plain cookies to pies with filling. So if you are lucky enough to find some type of tvorog (cottage cheese) and proper blueberry, then you need this recipe.
1. Using a spatula, in a large bowl mix the tvorog with room temperature butter, sugar, salt and vanilla sugar or extract. The tvorog should be soft and paste-like; if you have the grainy sort just pass it through a sieve.
2. Add slightly whipped eggs and mix again until smooth. Leave 2 tablespoons of egg mixture to use as egg wash later.
3. Now add sieved flour along with baking powder. You may need slightly more or less flour depending on the ingredients you use, so better to first add around 200-250g and then the rest if needed. Round the dough into a ball, slightly flatten, put in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
4. Then, split off 1/3 of the dough for the decoration, set aside and work with the bigger piece. Dust the cooking surface with some flour and roll the dough out according to the size of your baking form – don’t forget to make borders.
5. Moving on to the filling, simply toss berries with sugar and cornstarch – control the amount of sugar to your taste. Do it right before adding to the dough shell so that the filling doesn’t juice. Add some red currant or any other seasonal berry to the blueberry so that the filling has a richer berry taste. If using frozen berries, then don’t thaw them before cooking.
6. Spread the filling over the pie shell and move to the decoration. Today, I made a simple dough braid and laid it out across the border.
7. Smear the top of the pie with egg wash and put in the oven.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 190°C until golden and leave on the cooling rack to sit for a couple of hours. The filling will be too liquid right after baking, so better wait until the pie is completely cool before slicing. Enjoy your Russian-style blueberry pie with a pot of fresh black tea – priyatnogo appetita!
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