for the love of pie: heidi swanson


FOR THE LOVE OF PIE — a series that celebrates the simple things.
Today, Heidi and her Blueberry Lemon Verbena Pie.



Heidi is one of those people you like straight away.
One of those people who is both kind and passionate at once.
One of those people whose talent is inspiring. Always.


I came to know her work slowly.
First through flickr, then through her blog
and then one day a little later,
through her books.


In fact, I think hers was the first food blog I really read.
Her words made me feel like I was there.
As though I could be standing alongside,
baking cookiescutting crackers or making cake.


They felt to me then and feel to me now, real.
And I think, in the busy that is the internet,
that’s a pretty incredible thing.


We’ve yet to bake together, her and I.
We haven’t picked berries or peeled apples,
we haven’t rolled a chunk of dough.
But I know we will and I know that that
will be a good day.


Find out a little more about Heidi and her recipe below.
xo, n


ps: both the photos and the recipe are heidi’s. plus, she’s working on an exciting new project. find out more here



Heidi Swanson


It’s a classic blueberry pie with a couple twists. I work a bit of lemon verbena into the filling – it’s amazingly fragrant, and I find it in the market at the same time blueberries are in season. And I (nearly) always make this rye crust for my pies – it’s rustic, golden, all-butter, and beautifully flaky.


Of all the sweet pies in the world, my heart goes to those of the berry variety. My all-time favorite is huckleberry, but they’re hard to come by here. Blueberry is a close second.

San Francisco, California.

In my mind, this is strictly a summertime pie. Best enjoyed on a picnic table, in full sun, the smell of the blueberries mixing with the scent of sunscreen. Throw in some fireworks later in the evening, and you’re really set.


Blueberries and cream were made for each other – whipped cream, ice cream, creme fraiche. It’s hard to go wrong.


I can’t say no to: old cameras, dosas, road trips, or yard sales.



Blueberry Lemon Verbena Pie by Heidi Swanson

I pile blueberries as high as possible here, until adding more causes an avalanche. That’s typically ~2 pounds worth, sometimes a bit shy of that. I grow lemon verbena out on the patio, but you can also often find it at farmers’ markets – it’s powerfully fragrant and works beautifully with the blueberries. Of course, if you can’t find it it’s fine to leave it out (or swap in a couple teaspoons of fresh lemon thyme leaves).

As far as the crust goes, this is my favorite rye crust – you can make it with water, but because I have an endless supply of home brew here, I make it often with that – in this case, porter. It makes enough for one 9 or 10-inch double-crust pie.


75 g / v. scant 2/3 cup rye flour
175g / 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4+ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
8 oz / 1 cup salted butter
1/3 cup / 80 ml cold water or beer

A few notes: You can make the crust using the quick and popular food processor technique. That said,  I always make it by hand, using the above ingredients, and this technique. If you like a super-puffy crust, do the folding in Pim’s instructions 4x. I usually like mine less so, and fold & roll just 2 or 3 times, depending on how the dough is feeling. The pie crust in the photo was folded 3x.


 2/3 cup / 3.5 oz / 100g natural cane or brown sugar
20 fresh lemon verbena leaves, chopped
1/3 cup / 1.5 oz / 45 g flour
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 pounds of blueberries, rinsed (see head notes)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice & zest from that lemon
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked
Large grain sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425F / 220C, with a rack in the bottom third.

Roll out your pie crust – top and bottom – on a flour-dusted counter. I tend to work the edges a bit first (particularly if I’m getting cracks) – roll and turn, roll and turn, dusting with flour when necessary. Flip once or twice. Work quickly and keep the dough moving. Place between unbleached parchment paper or Silpats, and refrigerate while you make the filling. If you’re nervous about rolling out the crust, have a look at the second part of Melissa Clark’s video. See how she’s not super fussy? Channel some of that. If you need an extra confidence booster, read this. It’s o.k. if your dough doesn’t roll out into a perfect circle – you can patch and pinch later if needed. Just shoot for 11 or 12-inch inch rounds.

Make the filling by grinding the lemon verbena and sugar together in a mortar and pestle – this releases some of the oils and fragrance in the leaves. Transfer to a large bowl and add the flour and salt. Stir in the wet blueberries, and toss gently until well combined. Set aside.

Line a 9 or 10-inch pie plate with the bottom piece of pie dough. Guide it into place without stretching. You want about an inch of dough extending past the rim of the pie plate, trim a bit with scissors or a sharp knife if needed.

Fill the crust with the berries, drizzle with lemon juice, and dot with the butter. Brush the rim of the bottom crust with a bit of egg wash, then top with the other piece of pie crust. Trim the top crust a bit if needed, then press the top and bottom crusts together at the edges. Working around the rim, tuck the overhanging dough under itself, and crimp with a fork or flute using your fingers. Brush the crust with more of the egg wash and place in the oven for about 45 minutes – until the crust is deeply golden. Check your pie regularly after 25 minutes. If you need to foil the edges of the pie – pull it out and do so – this way the edges wont get too dark and dry. I don’t have to foil in my oven for this pie, even at this temp, but your oven might be a bit different. I also sprinkle with large-grain sugar about 25 minutes in – for a little extra crunch and sweetness. Let cool a bit, slice and serve.

Serves 8.


posted on June 1, 2012 by Nikole


  1. Stacy says:

    I love Heidi’s work as well — and this series on pie, to be sure! Acquiring the skill of excellent pie baking is an as-yet-unachieved goal of mine, but this manifestation of the pie might be just the thing to get me started. Many thanks, Nikole and Heidi!!

  2. Shokoofeh says:

    This series is making me excited more and more with each new post!

  3. Lauren says:

    I love Heidi and her blog! This sounds amazing–I’m excited to read more!

  4. Such lovely words and the pie sounds fabulous. I love the addition of lemon verbena.

  5. This sounds lovely. We also grow lemon verbena, and try to find as many uses for it as possible. It is just a great flavor mixed with blueberries. Thanks so much, and I found your site from Heidi’s. So glad to find you!


  6. [...] been going back and forth more than usual lately for a couple of reasons. 1) I've shared a favorite pie recipe as part of her new recipe series – For the Love of Pie. And 2) She's doing a little something [...]

  7. Sue Milewski says:

    I’m intrigued by the addition of lemon verbena–and can’t wait to try it with my blueberry/blackberry pie. Delicioso with ice cream–for the 4th of July–with a little flag on top!
    Thanks ~ enjoying your website.

  8. Melinda says:

    I love this new series! I can’t wait for more.
    Thank you for the fantastic recipe, Heidi, and thanks for the wonderful posts as always, Nikole! xo

  9. Adena says:

    I have lemon balm in the garden…think it could work?

  10. epb says:

    Will dried lemon verbena leaves work? (I have a bunch from last season’s crop and haven’t planted more this season.)

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Epb – I’m not sure it’d be quite the same. In the way dried mint isn’t quite the same as fresh mint. I don’t think it’d be bad – I’m just not sure if there’d be the same brightness of flavor / fragrance from the verbena…

  11. Julie says:

    Heidi is wonderful as are her recipes! Pies have my heart – this one looks like no exception.

  12. W says:

    This font is impossible to read in the kitchen.

  13. Dorothy says:

    I’m fascinated by the rye crust, can’t wait to try that. I’ve always felt that rye is an underutilized grain.

  14. oooh a rye crust, can’t wait to try it out! I love this series so far.

  15. Astrid says:

    Really like your series, and I love pie. Just to let you know that the gallery I work for, Open Studio, has a show with pie depictions.

  16. Melissa Affa says:

    I just started growing lemon verbena this season and cannot wait to try this recipe out. Loving the Rye crust too!

  17. Peggy says:

    Would Lemon Balm work? I donot have Lemon Verbena

  18. Roberta says:

    I love reading about all your cooking ideas and recipes, but I’m 72 years young and would love for you to make the print darker and the type a bit bigger. Your ideas are great and the rye crust sounds like what in after.

    • Nikole says:

      Hi Roberta, thanks for the feeback! I’ve enlarged the default font size now so hopefully it’s a little easier to read. Let me know! :)

  19. Love the look of that pie. Good food doesn’t need bells and whistles to pretty it up. Simplicity surely wins out for freshness and flavour!

  20. Oh my, my mouth is so watering. I absolutely adore blueberries and adding Lemon Verbena…my heart be still.

  21. Ira says:

    What is added to the blueberries to prevent them oozing out in their liquid when the pie is cut and served to hungry guests. Do you use flour, corn starch, or tapioca?

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Ira – the recipe calls for flour. That said, if you think you have particularly juicy berries, I might up the amount to 1/2 c. Enjoy!

  22. Angie says:

    Love this recipe! The pie came out beautifully. And the crust is amazing! I substituted lemon thyme for the lemon verbena and it worked well. If I were to do anything different next time, it would be to add more lemon juice, zest and a touch more lemon thyme. I was a bit conservative on the lemon front and the blueberries basically cancelled out any hint of lemon. Thanks again for your work and for sharing your delicious recipes!

  23. Christine S says:

    My daughter-in-love e-mailed this to me and it looks like a wonderfully fragrant and delicious pie. Thank you for sharing. We have a question????? If one substitutes fresh blueberries for frozen, would the quantity (2lbs) be the same? Thank-you!

  24. simi says:

    gahhhh love this so much! simple fare is my favorite, and a summer blueberry pie is quite near the top of that list :) the addition of lemon verbena sounds so good! xx.

  25. Deb says:

    where can I find lemon verbena?

  26. I adore lemon verbena and this pie looks heavenly! All those luscious blueberries! Looks like a wonderful recipe. :)

  27. zohreh says:

    thnk you for your recipe.I like bread can you help me.
    I mean any kind of bread. but you khow I dont khow about bread cooking even the tools!if you can….
    thak you dear

  28. mustafa emin says:

    i really liked your recipe. it seems very original with this lemon verbena. i will try it with black mulberries, instead of blackberries which are not so widely available here in Turkey. i just wanna ask about pre-baking. you don’t bake the pie crust before putting the berries. the berries are very wet and during the baking, does this affect to its crispiness, or it’s just fine without pre baking the pie shell? or that’s not a tart shell, that’s pie isn’t it? is that the difference?

  29. Julie says:

    Now I know what to do with all the lemon verbena in my garden!

  30. Really enjoyed making this recipe! The chez pim link was also very helpful and opened up a whole new way of prepping pie dough for me. I found a plantable version of Lemon Verbena at a local Farmer’s Market and look forward to using it in other recipes.

    Because I’m used to baking in convection mode, I went with 375 F for 45 mins. The only thing that threw me a bit is that I never saw any blueberry juice bubble up, which is usually an indicator for me that a berry pie is ready to come out. But the crust was definitely done, so I didn’t push it. Once the pie cooled and I cut a slice I saw there was plenty of juice. So not sure what happened there. Either way, the pie tastes great!

  31. Lemons and blueberries are a match made in heaven!

  32. alayne says:

    i have made so many of heidi’s recipes from her cookbook and her blog and I have purchased lots of her cookbook recommendations. Never ever disappointed with a recommendation. Thank you for not only bringing such beauty to my food, but also enjoying reading the cookbooks in my hands, real books and page turning. like a great novel, i read them on the beach, snuggled up with a blanket on a cool night and of course with a big bold glass of wine after a full day.

  33. Absolutely love these posts! What a beautiful pie, blueberries are my favorites!

  34. shelly says:

    I LOVE YOUR BLOG! and all the beautiful products that you make. I am going to make this pie this weekend, will let you know how it came out. Thank you…

  35. John says:

    I am making one for my wife. She loves blue Berries

  36. Laura says:

    My grandmother made huckleberry pie every summer, after she sent us out to pick them in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. I haven’t had it for so long. It was delicious. Different than blueberry. This pie sounds great, especially with the lemon verbena. I think I may go huckleberry hunting…

  37. Alexandra says:

    I especially love the last image! I see a pile of blueberries that will cook down together with the melting butter and lemon zests… oh my… yumm…

  38. Beautiful post! Always so inspiring. I love the interview, the pictures and… The extra flaky rye crust!!!

  39. Eileen says:

    This recipe enticed me because of the verbena and rye flour! I have the pie in the oven right now. I used frozen blueberries. Other recipes indicate that when using frozen berries, just increase the cooking time. I am hoping that will work for this recipe as well. Here in NYC it would have cost about $16 to buy enough fresh blueberries and for that I would rather just buy a fancy pie! I enjoyed trying Pim’s method for making the pie crust. I can’t say that my pie crust looked beautiful (at least before it went in the oven) but hopefully it will taste good! Any thoughts on using frozen blueberries?

  40. [...] a 9.5? Buy these! 30 week bump pic – YOWZA! Scared of what 40 will look like. The perfect summer pie. Did you get the new Anthro magazine this week? The prints are amazing! My new go-to shop for [...]

  41. [...] Sowas hab ich zwar noch nie gegessen, aber als ich vor 2 Tagen Heidi Swansons Rezept für einen Heidelbeer-Zitronenverveine-Pie entdeckt habe, war klar, dass ich ihn schnellstmöglich würde nachbacken [...]

  42. Jen says:

    Great series. Pie really is a simple pleasure.

  43. [...] other new recipe we decided to try over the weekend was an adaption of a blueberry lemon verbena pie recipe I saw on the Internet.  I happened upon it by chance, and since we still had a large quantity of [...]

  44. what a beautiful new series! it looks like i’m a little late to the party, but can’t wait to see more!

  45. Beatiful photographs. I love the light and all in general. Congrats¡¡ :)

  46. Mariela says:

    I love this new series, your blog make me very happy, thank you! x

  47. Richard says:

    This. Was. Awesome.
    I made this yesterday – blueberries are just coming into season here in NJ – and brought it down to a Father’s Day BBQ. It was a huge hit. There’s something really wonderful about buying fresh local blueberries and pulling some lemon verbena from your backyard garden.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

  48. Can’t say no to dosas? Kindred spirits we are then, especially to those made by my MIL, fried with butter.

  49. [...] & recipe links: Heidi Swanson, Jen Causey, Katie and Nathan Williams. And be sure to shop Nikole Herriott's shop, Herriott [...]

  50. [...] I used Mulberries instead of blueberries for this one after our trip to Seabreeze farm for berry picking, but blackberries would work too. Mulberry Lemon Verbena Pie [...]

  51. Jill says:

    I’m an avid 101 cookbooks follower and i just tried this pie crust recipe and it seems like there is a typo with the measurements? I measure with a scale so i followed those measurements but it’s actually about 75gm short of flour. Thank god i pre baked the bottom cause it came out super greasy, obviously not enough flour-i went back and redid this time using the cup measurements and it was fine. Can’t believe i’m the first to spot this?!?! Maybe something happened when you changed font size?

    • Nikole says:

      Hi Jill! Thanks for your note, sorry to hear it didn’t work out. Did you add both types of flour?

      Thanks for your concern about a mistake with the font size change. I’ve double checked and the recipe reads correctly. Let us know if you get to trying it again or have any other questions. :)

      • Jill says:

        Ok, thanks for checking, i don’t know what i did the first time (maybe i didn’t zero out my scale as i was measuring each flour??) but i just tried it again using the scale and it was fine. Sorry to make you check your work!

  52. [...] creamsicles! *DIY nontoxic sunscreen. *THIS tree fort! *Loving the Lexicon of Sustainability. *Blueberry Lemon Verbena pie, oh my! *Create a wild pollinator habitat. *How to take better food photos (I SO needed to learn [...]

  53. [...] blueberry quinoa salad // Veggie Belly Blueberry lemon verbena pie // Heidi Swanson via Forty-Sixth at Grace Blueberry cream cheese macrons // Ai Love Baking [...]

  54. [...] when you are actually consuming fruity drinks containing hard alcohol). I combined the filling from this recipe with the gluten-free crust from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook that I’ve previously [...]

  55. [...] Blueberry Lemon Verbena Pie by Heidi Swanson [...]

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