#30atHome: Bergamot adds a taste of tea to blueberry pie

I love Earl Grey tea, but I’d never cooked with a bergamot orange until recently.

What’s a bergamot orange, you ask? It’s a yellow citrus fruit about the side of a baseball with a floral, fragrant rind that has been used to flavor Earl Grey tea since the 1800s.

They aren’t commonly available in Central Texas, but they pop up from time to time during the winter at Central Market and Whole Foods. I found this bergamot orange at Central Market earlier this month, and even though it cost nearly $4, I knew I wanted to experiment with it for my #30atHome challenge.

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Even after the holidays, my sweet tooth is still in high gear, so I’ve been baking a dessert about once a week this month. Last week, ahead of a Peace Through Pie potluck with my fellow #30atHome cooks, I decided to bake a blueberry pie with a hint of bergamot.

Kate McDermott’s “Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life” (Countryman Press, $35) is one of my favorite pie cookbooks, and her recipe for a blueberry crumble pie called for lemon juice and Cointreau or orange zest, so I used bergamot juice and zest for the pie filling.

The result was a fabulous Earl Grey-scented dessert that caused everyone at the swap to ask: “What’s in this pie?”

I thought it was a little heavy on the bergamot, to be honest, but all the guests assured me that it was just the right amount. (I thought it was just the right amount when I added a scoop of ice cream to balance it out.)

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Even without the bergamot, this is a great pie recipe. Don’t worry about using fresh blueberries — you won’t be able to tell in the final product. Other small adjustments I made: I used a store-bought crust and cornstarch instead of tapioca.

Bergamot Blueberry Crumble Pie

For the crumble:
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
Pinch salt
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups whole oats
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
For pie:
5-6 cups fresh blueberries (can use frozen, but do not thaw)
3/4 cup sugar
Small grating of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed bergamot orange juice
1/2 teaspoon bergamot orange zest
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
1 recipe single-crust pie dough

Put the brown sugar, salt, flour and oats in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse about 20 times until the butter and flour mixture looks crumbly. Add the nuts, if using, and pulse a few more times. Chill the mixture in the freezer while you make the filling.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put the blueberries, sugar, nutmeg, salt, lemon or bergamot orange juice and zest in a big bowl. Mix to combine and then add flour and tapioca. Roll out the pie crust and put in the pie pan. Add the blueberry filling.

Bake for 20 minutes at 425 and then lower heat to 350 and cook for another 20 minutes. Then add the crumble topping — you might have some extra, which you can store in the freezer — on top of the blueberry filling and cook for an additional 20 minutes.

Cool the pie before serving.

— Adapted from a recipe in “Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life” by Kate McDermott (Countryman Press, $35)