The forest behind my grandmother’s summer cottage in Finland is covered with wild blueberries in July. They grow alongside patches of moss, underneath tall pine trees and the red and white mushrooms that we used to imagine were homes for fairies and gnomes. In the summer, we gather them to make this mustikka piirakka (blueberry pie). We pull on our rubber boots, grab two gallon buckets and venture out into the woods.
Makes 1 sheet pie (18 inches by 13 inches)
Time: 45 minutes
A simple pastry, somewhere between a pie and a cake, it bakes like a focaccia on a large baking sheet. You can use rhubarb instead of, or in addition to, blueberries.
This recipe for mustikka piirakka is my 96 year old grandmother’s. She can’t remember where it comes from, but has probably been making it for at least 70 years. It’s foolproof and especially good with Finland’s favorite caffeinated infusion…coffee! It also pairs well with a fruity black tea like Keemun or Darjeeling or one of the Finnish forest blends from Nord-T Company in Helsinki.
Nord-T makes unique blends with green and black teas and other arctic super-herbs like birch leaves, sea buckthorn berries, nettle, clover, lignonberries and wild strawberries.
When I ask my grandmother how to get blueberry stains out of my dress, she offers her stoic wisdom: “When blueberry season is over, they will come out. When it is still blueberry season, they are impossible to get out.” Everything about her is magical like that and like this blueberry pie.
You will need:
1 half sheet pan (18 by 13 inches), greased with butter
1.25 cups of sugar + about .25 cup extra for the berries
1.5 cups half and half or whole milk
2.5 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
.5 cup melted butter
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla sugar
.5 teaspoon ground cardamom seed
Heat oven to 400 degrees F
Beat together the egg and sugar with a hand whisk for just about a minute. Add the cream or milk and dry ingredients. Then, stir in the melted butter. Pour the batter into a buttered baking sheet that is 1-1.5 inches deep.
In a bowl, combine blueberries, about .25 cups of sugar, vanilla and cardamom. Evenly pour the berries over the batter and bake for 25-30 minutes.
When cool, slice into squares and serve.