Strawberry. Basil. Pie. With balsamic vinegar. And pepper.
It’s like strawberry pie put on her big girl pants and decided to become the boss.
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Hello all! I have so much to write to you, but not today. No, my friends, today is not the day for pithy posts or meaningful updates on our family’s latest adventures. Today is the day I expose you all to the little-known world of strawberry and basil and why these two should seriously consider matrimony. Oh wait. They did. And their love child is Strawberry Basil Pie. A sweet and tart little thing; sophisticated and foodie but still a little down-home. I knew I would love this pie. I just knew it. In the word’s of the BFG it is
(Anyone else so excited to see that movie this summer?)
Without further ado: Strawberry Basil Pie
from the pie artist Allison Kave in her book First Prize Pies
One double pie crust: (recipe follows)
8 Cups Fresh strawberries, hulled and halved (cut large berries into smaller pieces)
About 10 large fresh basil leaves, julienned
3 tablespoons high-quality balsamic vinegar
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
milk for glaze
raw sugar, for garnish (I used regular granulated and it worked great)
Preheat the over to 425 degrees F. Roll out half of the dough into a circle about 11 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a 9 in pie plate. Trim the overhang to 1 inch and refrigerate crust.
Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, basil, vinegar, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, pepper, and salt. Just before adding the filling to the crust, toss the fruit in the dry ingredients. Brush the rim of the bottom crust with egg wash or milk.
Roll out the second half of the hough into a circle about 11 inches diameter. Cut it into six 2-inch thick strips. Form a lattice. Trim the edges, and tuck the top crust over the rim of the bottom crust to form a tight seal. Crimp the edge into whatever pattern you like. Brush the top crust with egg wash or milk, and sprinkle it with raw sugar.
Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake it for 20 minutes, turning it halfway through. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake it for 30 – 40 minutes more, until the crust is golden and fully baked and the juices have thickened. Remove pie to a rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour. This pie can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, covered in plastic wrap. Let it come to room temperature before serving, or warm it in a low oven. It can be kept frozen for up to 2 months. Cover it in plastic wrap, then in foil, and let it come to room temperature before serving.
3/4 cup unsalted European-style cultured butter
1/4 cup rendered leaf lard or additional butter
1.2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
12 ounces (approx 3 cups) unbleached chilled all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Prepare the butter and lard, if using. Cut the butter into 1.2 inch cubes (a bench scraper is perfect for this, but a sharp knife works well too). and cut eh lard into small pieces. Return them to the fridge or freezer to cool.
In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the milk and vinegar. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to use.
On a clean flat surface or in a large shallow bowl, toss the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt together lightly to blend. Add the butter and lard (if using) to the dry ingredients and, using the tool of your choice cut the fat into the flour with speed and patience, until the fat has been reduced to small pea-sized chunks. Try to use a straight up and down motion, avoiding twisting your wrists, as the more you press on the flour the more tough gluten will develop in the dough. Avoid using your fingers, as the heat from your hands will melt the fat and further encourage gluten development. Unlike with pasta or bread, gluten it the enemy of pie dough, so be gentle, and be quick!
Once your fat has bee cut down to size, spread your mixture out gently to expose as much surface area as possible. Gently drizzle about half of your milk mixture over the flour, trying to cover as wide an area as you can. Using bench scrapers or a large spoon, toss the flour over the liquid (don’t stir, just lightly toss), spread everything out again, and repeat the process with the second half of the liquid. You should now have a dough that will just hold together when pressed against the bowl, with visible little chunks of butter. If you need to add more liquid to bind it, do so with more cold milk, adding a tablespoon at a time until you reach the right texture. It’s not an exact science, as everything from the humidity in the air to the dryness of your flour will affect the consistency of you dough.
Once you’ve reached your goal, cover the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week, well wrapped, or int he freezer for up to 2 months.
Another pie accomplished. I am so glad I stayed up till midnight baking it. Instead of folding laundry.
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