There are two more days until we’re “Spring Official” and so I am taking it upon myself to declare it PIE SEASON.
Don’t get me wrong, I eat pies all year round but there is something really special about those first berry pies of spring. They’re just like a breath a fresh air after a winter of potatoes and root vegetables and brussels sprouts.
Eeeeeeeee I CAN’T WAIT.
I’m trying to get a least a few pies in before the baby comes (or at least stock up my freezer with pie dough for future easy pie consumption – I hear eating an entire pie all by yourself is good for breast milk production and I will slay the person who tells me otherwise).
In truth, this pie is one that I originally made last year but there were just too many pies and not enough time to share them all with you (a good problem to have) so here we are!
First things first, what is a swamp pie??
If you’ve never heard of this way-better-than-it-sounds confection, then you’re in good company. I’m pretty sure I had no idea what it was until I stumbled across the concept in Erin McDowell’s fabulous tome The Book on Pie, but now I can’t forget it and want to eat all of my pies this way forever and ever.
A swamp pie is basically a magical thing that happens when you combine a fruit pie with a custard pie. It starts, as most fruit pies do, with a par-baked all butter crust that gets filled with a fruity filling and topped with either streusel or a second crust. We are going the streusel route here because it allows for more nooks and crannies, which you’ll understand the advantage of in just a minute.
The pie gets popped into the oven and baked until it is pretty much done. As the pie finishes baking, a quick creamy vanilla custard is whisked together and then poured ON TOP OF THE PIE. This bakes into a creamy top layer that is almost like baking ice cream into the pie (though topping it with actual ice cream before eating is not a bad life choice).
What do I need to make a swamp pie?
Okay, so this pie does have a few components, so let’s discuss.
First and foremost – THE CRUST. I am forever a proponent of homemade pie crust (this recipe uses Erin’s All-Buttah Crust) but understand there are some homemade crust skeptics out there. Don’t be scared! Homemade crust has SO MUCH MORE FLAVOR than anything you can buy in a store and is way easier than it sounds to make. Also, it can be prepped ahead of time, which makes it feel way less overwhelming. Trust.
Next, THE FILLING. This is a pretty simple and standard blueberry pie filling made with fresh blueberries, lemon zest and juice, vanilla extract, sugar, flour, and salt. The ingredients are stirred together in a bowl until well-mixed and then poured into your par-baked crust.
THE STREUSEL! I love love love streusel as a top crust for pie because (a) it means I don’t have to roll out a second round of pie dough and (b) because it is just so eternally good. This has oats, flour (both all purpose and whole wheat), brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and butter. It’s made entirely by hand so you will get your fingers dirty but it will feel (and taste) so good.
Finally, THE CUSTARD. Another super simple component that just requires whisking a few ingredients together. Couldn’t be easier!
Let’s do this thing.
- 1.75 cups + 2 tbsp (225 g) all purpose flour
- ¼ + ? tsp fine sea salt
- 12 tbsp (170 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 6 tbsp (90 g) ice water, plus more as needed
- 1½ lb (680 g) fresh blueberries
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp (23 g) all purpose flour
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ cup (40 g) old fashioned oats
- ½ cup (60 g) all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp (15 g) whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup (50 g) brown sugar
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 tbsp (57 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¾ cup (176 g) heavy cream
- 2 tbsp (27 g) brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and sea salt. Add the butter cubes to the bowl and toss to coat in the flour, then use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dough until the largest pieces are the size of peas.
- Slowly pour in the water, a tbsp or two at a time, mixing the dough lightly with your hands after each addition. Add only enough water until the dough starts to come together. You may need a few more or less tbsp than the recipe states.
- Once the dough comes together, form it into an even disk, about 1-inch thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
- Once chilled, roll out your dough on a lightly-floured work surface to a 12-inch circle and then fit into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate, crimping the edges as desired. Dock the crust all over with a fork and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least another 30 minutes.
- To parbake the crust, heat oven to 425F. Line the chilled crust with parchment paper and top with pie weights to fill the crust entirely. Place in the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the edges are set and just starting to brown. Remove from the oven and lift the parchment and weights out of the pie shell. Return the crust to the oven and bake for another 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom appears set. Allow to cool completely.
- Toss the blueberries with the lemon zest and juice in a medium bowl. Add in the vanilla and toss again.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Sprinkle this over the blueberries and mix until well combined.
- Combine the oats, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Add in the butter and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to to mix it into the dry ingredients until it forms large clumps.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.
- Heat oven to 375F with a rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Place the parbaked crust on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour in the blueberry filling in an even layer. Sprinkle the streusel over the top. Place in the oven and bake until the berries are bubbling and the crust is golden, about 35-40 minutes.
- Assemble the custard and pull out the oven rack. Pour the cream mixture over the pie and allow it to be absorbed into the filling.
- Place back in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the custard is set at the edges of the pie but still slightly jiggly in the center. Allow to cool completely before serving.