One year after I moved to Sweden, the study of the language has gone disappointingly not so well. I had planned to do better, and instead here I am, one year in, knowing fewer words than I had planned to learn. The truth is that it can get extremely hard to get to practice a language when everyone speaks perfect English and is too kind to let you stagger in your broken Swedish so immediately turns to English out of politeness. Determined to expand my vocabulary, I decided that I should start from what I like, so I turned to Swedish recipes.
Just to integrate even more into Swedish society, I took up Sweden’s favourite August pastime – blueberry picking – and dedicated to this activity one hour of my time every day. Some of the blueberries were meant to be used for pierogi, one part went straight into the freezer because I promised my mom to save her some (my parents will visit us for Christmas) and one part was dedicated to experimenting. A Swedish recipe, to be precise. Still focused in my determination, I hit the keabord and typed: blåbärspaj, blueberry pie. The first result was this, from a very popular Swedish recipe website. Fine, I said, blåbärspaj it is!
The first thing I learned is that Swedish recipes measure flour and sugar in decilitres. This was new to me, but an online converter was of good help, so I blindly relied on it for my pie. I followed the recipe using the quantities according to the online converter (and I succeeded!) only to discover on the following day that the Swedes don’t just like to use the term “decilitre” instead of “gram”, but a Swedish decilitre is more like a cup, so it varies depending on the ingredient that is being measured. Still, the pie came out perfectly, despite me changing the quantities of the ingredients. But I guess that to some extent proportions were unaffected and in the end what really matters is balance, not quantity. The only change I made on purpose was the amount of blueberries and sugar – since I have so many, I wanted to make a rich pie. So here’s the recipe I used, unintentionally changed from the original found on recepten.se.
Blåbärspaj (yields 6-8)
- 250 g flour
- 75 g sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 150 g butter
- 2 tbsp water
For the filling:
- 225 g fresh blueberries (I used 340 g)
- 50 g sugar (I used 80 g)
This recipe does not include starch, while in other recipes I looked up potato starch was always mentioned. I don’t have potato starch, but I put 1/2 tbsp of corn starch. It helps to absorbe the excess juice from the fresh blueberries and stabilizes the filling.
The pie crust is basically a pâte brisée base made by mixing together the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter. Once combined, you mix in the water and this is it. This base should be divided in two, one will go on the bottom of the pie and the other will go on the top. Roll out one half, place in a baking pan being extra careful not to crack the sides (otherwise the blueberry filling will spill out and burn against the hot metal pan), prick with a fork and put in the oven at 175°C for about 8 minutes.
In the meantime, in a bowl, combine the blueberries with the sugar and starch, so that each blueberry will be coated. Take the pie crust out of the oven after the first 8 minutes, pour in the blueberry filling, roll out the other half of shortcrust pastry and place it on top. Press the sides together where the top and bottom bases touch, in order to seal the filling in. Cut a few slits on the top of the pie for the steam to flow. Return the pie into the oven for another 20 minutes (or, if you put extra blueberries like I did, it will be about 30 minutes). The procedure followed in the Swedish recipe does not imply coating the blueberries, but only pouring them over the pie base and then sprinkling them with sugar. Nor does it imply rolling out an even top layer of pie crust, choosing a more simple way of handling the top (even if you don’t understand Swedish, there are lots of pictures of all the stages of the recipe, so take a look at the Swedish website). So in the end I followed my own instinct and likes. Anyway, the result was exactly what I had envisioned.
Sliced, this pie is very difficult to handle. Especially if you are eager to photograph it and don’t leave it the time to cool completely. Cooling down, the pie settles, and the blueberry filling gelatinizes, making it easier to slice. But again, I was too impatient and managed to cut out a decent slice heaven knows how. Serve it with unsweetened whipped cream for total happiness.
I even made a few mini-pies with shortcrust leftovers, they were such a nice treat. And looked cute next to the actual sliced pie.
I know I should have waited to slice it, but warm this pie is heavenly. And when you’re done, your plate will look like a crime scene 🙂