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~ PA-Dutch Blueberry & Lemon-Custard Streusel Pie ~

IMG_2978A buttery-rich, crispy-topped streusel fruit pie is one of my favorite things, and, that, quite naturally, makes me one of those people who prefers a streusel-topped pie to a two-crust pie.  It's often said there are two types of pie eaters: those who prefer crust, and those who prefer filling.  I can honestly say I am neither.  I simply prefer streusel over a top crust because of the sweet-and-savory textural edge it lends to a fruit pie -- I can't resist those crunchy, buttery, crumbles.  

That said, how lucky was I to grow up in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, known affectionately as Pennsylvania-Dutch Country.  In that area, the vast majority of bakers used various streusel recipes to top their fruit pies, coffeecakes and muffins.  For those who baked several times a week, it was common practice to mix up a big bowl of streusel topping, to have on hand in the refrigerator for use all week -- how convenient is that.  On another note, the Pennsylvania-Dutch are well-known for their easy-to-make sour-cream-custard pies, meaning: they substitute sour cream for the classic cream or milk when making their custard pies.

I adore those crunchy, buttery, streusel crumbles:

IMG_2957Pennsylvania-Dutch-Style Streusel Topping:

IMG_2924Streusel (STROO-zuhl) is the German word for "something scattered, strewn or sprinkled".  In baking, it is a crumbly topping for pies, coffeecakes and muffins.  It is basically a mixture of four ingredients (flour, sugar, butter and salt), but, it is not uncommon to find aromatic spices (cinnamon, cloves and/or nutmeg) and/or uncooked oats or chopped nuts added to it. Streusel is especially good on fruit pies (apple, blueberry, cherry, peach, rhubarb, etc.) where sweet and savory, rather than a mundane top crust, is a welcome, flavor-enhancing addition.  Streusel is also one of a baker's best kept secrets.  On a day where you don't have a lot of time for pie pastry making, or, you find yourself with an overabundance of fruitful ingredients, in less than five minutes, two pie pastries for one pie transition into two entire pies and no one is disappointed by it.  Happiest of endings.

You say "Pennsylvania Dutch", we say "Pennsylvania Deutsch:

Illo-06I am here to make it clear that Pennsylvania Dutch-style cookery does not belong solely to PA and it is not Dutch either.  The term "Dutch" was the early English settlers slang for the German word "Deutsch".  So:  When most people incorrectly say "Pennsylvania Dutch", they should be saying "Pennsylvania Deutsch", crediting the Germanic or German speaking immigrants from Germany and Switzerland for this cuisine.  The majority of these people were either Amish, Mennonite or Brethren, all of which were considered "Anabaptist". They were fleeing the mountains of Switzerland and southern German to avoid religious persecution and established several communities in the Lehigh Valley.  Why?  Thank William Penn for his free-thinking, open-door, equal-opportunity-for-all of any religion or race politics.  Pennsylvania set an example for the other colonies, who all had established an offical "state" religion. Pennsylvania.  The first to welcome people of all beliefs and walks of life?  You betcha, and amazingly admirable too.

IMG_2906For my all-purpose PA-Deutsch streusel topping:

6  tablespoons cold, salted butter, cut into cubes or slices

1/2  cup sugar

1/2  cup all-purpose flour

1/2  cup old-fashioned oats, not quick-cooking or instant

1  teaspoon ground cinnamon

IMG_2908 IMG_2908 IMG_2908 IMG_2908 IMG_2908~Step 1.  In a medium bowl, using a spoon, stir together the sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon.  Using a pastry blender and a sharp knife, "cut" the butter into the sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Stop "cutting" when it resembles coarse, pea-sized crumbs.  Set aside while preparing the pie as directed below.  Can be prepared and refrigerated 2-3 days in advance.

To make the blueberry & lemon-custard streusel pie:

IMG_2936For the blueberry and lemon-custard pie:

1, 9", unbaked, pie pastry, my recipe for ~ Making Pâte Brisée:  Basic Pie or Quiche Pastry ~, your favorite recipe, or high-quality store bought

3  cups blueberries

2  large eggs, lightly beaten

1  cup sour cream

2  teaspoons unbleached, all purpose flour

3/4  cup sugar

2  teaspoons pure blueberry extract

1  teaspoon pure lemon extract

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

streusel topping, from above recipe

IMG_2927 IMG_2927 IMG_2927~ Step 1. Roll and fit one 9" pie pastry in the bottom of a (preferably glass) 9" pie dish.  Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the pastry to hang slightly over the perimeter (about 1/8").  Using your fingertips, form a decorative edge around the perimeter.  Add the 3 cups of blueberries to the pie shell.  Set aside.

IMG_2938 IMG_2938 IMG_2938 IMG_2938 IMG_2938 IMG_2946 IMG_2946~Step 2.  In a 1-quart measuring container, whisk the eggs.  Add the sour cream, flour, sugar and all three extracts. Vigorously whisk again until thoroughly combined.  A smooth, drizzly, pourable custard mixture will have formed.  Slowly, and in a thin stream, drizzle the custard over the blueberries in the pie pastry.

IMG_2953 IMG_2953 IMG_2953~ Step 3.  Bake pie on center rack of 340º-350º oven (a scant 350º oven) 20 minutes.  Surface of pie will be starting to puff up around the perimeter and starting to dry out towards the center.  Remove pie from oven.  Using a large spoon, scatter the streusel evenly over top.  Return to oven and continue to bake 35-40 minutes, for a total of 55-60 minutes baking time.  Pie will be nicely browned and puffed up through to the center.  Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely, 2-3 hours.

Finished pie, puffed up & beautiful, hot out of the oven:

IMG_2958Slice & serve at room temperature or slightly-chilled:

IMG_2998Can't wait to take a bite out of my slice: 

IMG_2989Streusel-Topped Blueberry and Lemon-Custard Pie:  1, 9" pie/8-10 servings.

Special Equipment List:  pastry blender; paring knife; pastry board; rolling pin; 9" pie dish, preferably glass; kitchen shears; 4-cup measuring container w/pourer spout; whisk; large spoon; wire cooling rack 

IMG_2898Cook's Note:  When it comes to blueberry desserts in general, the pairing of blueberries and lemon is a common -- the two just go hand-in-hand together -- it's irresistible. Bundt cakes are perhaps my favorite cakes to bake.  Even the words "bundt cake" sound warm and inviting.  Simply saying "bundt cake" evokes happy, fond memories from kinder, gentler times.  My ~ Glazed Blueberry, Lemon & Ricotta Bundt Cake ~ is, hands down their favorite bundt cake.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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