Winning Pie

by Abby Wendle


As an attorney, Joe Hull has spent much of his life negotiating deals. But a few summers ago he found himself up against a woman with little tolerance for compromise: June, the “pie-warden,” as Joe calls her, of the Tulsa State Fair.

Joe’s Blueberry Pecan Crunch Pie


1 Pillsbury piecrust, completely thawed
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled
6 tablespoons butter
½ cup Bon Appetit Lemon Cake (available at QuikTrip)
5-6 cups of fresh blueberries
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
1 lemon
2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
¼ teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon Vietnamese or Mexican cinnamon
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1½ cups sugar

Cooking Directions

Grate apple into a mixing bowl, using largest slot of a grater. Take a linen cloth and ring out as much of the juice as possible. Cut butter into ¼-inch cubes. Place in freezer for a few minutes to chill. Preheat oven to 375. Take thawed piecrust and flatten into pie dish. Make sure to let some of the crust overlap onto the edge because it will shrink in the baking process.

Cook until the crust is lightly browned and remove from oven. Crumble pound cake into a sauté pan. Cook on medium heat, shaking occasionally, until the crumbles are good and crunchy. Spread crumbles into the cooled piecrust. Take 3 cups of blueberries and stir into a medium sized saucepan. Mash berries with a potato masher, leaving some berries intact. Turn stove up to medium heat and let the berries cook down by half. As the berries are cooking, mix crust topping: stir in ½ cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Remove cubed butter from freezer and place into a mixing bowl. Using your hands, squish the butter creating small, feathery tufts.

Once you’ve smooshed all of the butter, add the pecans. Back to the berries: Once they’ve reduced by half, take them off the stove and pour into another large bowl. Stir in the following ingredients one at a time, in this order: Grated and strained apple, remainder of uncooked blueberries (1-3 cups, depending on the size of the pie), zest of one lemon, juice of half a lemon, tapioca, ginger, cinnamon, several grindings of fresh nutmeg and sugar. Pour pie filling into the crust, on top of the crumbled lemon pound cake. Bake 12 minutes, allowing the fresh berries to swell up and ooze. Remove from oven and sprinkle on the topping, smoothing gently with a spatula. Put pie back in the oven and bake 35-40. The topping should be just browning and sinking into the dish. The blueberry juice should be bubbling up around the edges.

Let the pie cool for 15-30 minutes before enjoying with or without vanilla ice cream on the side.