Blueberry Buttermilk Pie Bars

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RECIPE: Once again wanting to entertain with a difference, I decided to try a couple of new recipes in my Dorie’s Cookies book. The only change I made to this recipe was to use defrosted frozen blueberries, because I wasn’t about to pay $8 for a 125g punnet of fresh ones (it’s not blueberry season).

PREPARATION: Using the food processor to process the crumb base was a lot easier than rubbing the butter through by hand. Dorie says to put your base in the fridge before baking it and you definitely need to do this – it helps it hold its shape. The base is baked until it’s golden and there’s no need to worry; it doesn’t overbake when you add the custard. I’m not sure what the recipe means by the sugar burning the custard, but I didn’t want it to happen! so I made sure I kept the eggs whisking while I added the sugar. It all seemed to go well – the blueberries do need redistributing once you pour the custard over, to get them spread around as evenly as possible. It was really obvious when the slice was ready – it puffs up all over, goes a lovely golden colour and becomes firm-ish.

IMPRESSION: This is an enjoyable slice. It’s not as sweet as it looks and the custard stays firm even at room temperature, so it’s capable of a little travel. Husband said I could add it to the list (he has a list of approved recipes). 🙂

Recipe from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Blueberry buttermilk pie bars
102g plain flour
67g sugar
33g cornmeal (not coarse)
1.5 tbs cornflour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
113g cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

11g cornflour
360ml buttermilk
4 large eggs, at room temperature
100g sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
150g fresh blueberries

Have a 20cm square baking pan or a 17x27cm slice pan. Lightly grease it or line it with baking paper that has enough on two sides to lift out the slice when baked. Put the flour, sugar, cornmeal, 1.5 tbs cornflour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Drop in the chunks of butter and work in a dozen or so long pulses until you have a dough that clumps when squeezed between your fingers. Turn the dough into the baking pan and press it evenly into the base. Put the pan in the fridge to chill while you preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Bake the crust for 23-25 minutes, or until it’s golden brown. Even though the crust will be baked again with the topping, it needs to be thoroughly baked now, so err on the side of more golden rather than less. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the crust to cool completely.

Spoon the second amount of 11g cornflour into a small bowl and pour over 1/4 cup of the buttermilk, stirring until the cornflour dissolves. This is a slurry, which will thicken the custard. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until foamy. Add the sugar and immediately start whisking vigorously (you must beat the sugar and eggs together quickly, or the sugar will ‘burn’ the yolks and cause a film to form). Whisk in the salt and vanilla, then whisk in the slurry. When the slurry is fully incorporated, stir in the remaining buttermilk, followed by the melted butter.

Scatter  the blueberries over the crust and pour over the topping. You will need to even out the spread of blueberries by poking them with your fingers or a spoon. Bake for 42-45 minutes, or until the topping is puffed all the way to the centre, brown around the edges and firm everywhere. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 20 minutes. Carefully run a table knife around the edges of the pan, place a piece of baking paper over the pan and invert the slice onto a rack. Remove the pan and invert the bar so it is the right way up again onto another rack to cool at room temperature, chill if you’d prefer. Just before serving, slide the slice onto a cutting board and, using a long, thin knife, cut into pieces.

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