I know it’s not quite strawberry season yet, but after the long winter we’ve been experiencing I was in need of a little summer. Fortunately for me, I still had two bags full of strawberries that I picked last summer in my freezer. Once I opened up the bag of strawberries– I kid you not, it smelled like summer. There’s just something about freshly picked berries that are so much more fragrant (even after 8 months in the freezer, apparently) than the fresh strawberries at the supermarket this time of year. Heavenly.
Also very fortunately for me, for Christmas I received an awesome pie cookbook by the Four & Twenty Blackbird sisters and wanted to try a recipe from it.
As with any pie, you start with the crust. Their all-butter pie crust recipe was slightly different from other crusts I’ve made as it called for a little cider vinegar to be incorporated along with the ice water which intrigued me. It added a nice little tang to the crust, though once baked was not super noticeable.
In addition to the main event of strawberries, the recipe called for a baking apple to be grated into the filling. I am guessing this might be to help thicken it up, since the berries break down to a liquid, and once baked I really didn’t pick up on the apple flavor so the trick worked.
Into the filling the recipe also called for balsamic vinegar, which is what intrigued me about the recipe since I liked the combination of strawberries and balsamic so much last summer when I made them into ice cream; the recipe also called for a few dashes of Angostura bitters to be added as well. The authors say they think bitters add a little something to the pie, and though I can’t put into words exactly what that is, I would have to agree.
Just look how summer-y the filling looks before getting a top put on it! You can almost feel the warm sun.
The recipe recommended a lattice crust, but I was short on time so just did a standard top crust (or “ceiling,” as a friend of mine calls it) and carved an “S” for strawberry into it for venting.
This pie was so good. I brought it into work to share and it got rave reviews. I highly recommend making it if you too are wanting to bring a little summer into your world right about now. If you close your eyes while eating it you can almost feel warm sun on your face, I swear.
Strawberry Balsamic Pie (adapted slightly from “The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book” by Emily Elsen & Melissa Elsen)
- All- Butter Crust for a 9-inch double-crust pie (see recipe below)
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed and quartered (5 to 6 cups) NOTE: I used frozen strawberries and it turned out just fine
- 1 small baking apple (such as Norther Spy or Golden Delicious)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons ground arrowroot
- 2 grinds fresh black pepper, fine setting
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Have ready and refrigerated one pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan and pastry round or lattice to top.
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar over the strawberries. Stir gently to combine and allow the fruit to macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Peel the apple and shred on the large holes of a box grater. Drain the strawberries of excess liquid and combine with the shredded apple. Sprinkle on the balsamic vinegar and Angostura bitters.
In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, arrowroot, black pepper, and salt. Gently fold the sugar mixture into the strawberry mixture. Pour the filling into the refrigerated pie shell, arrange the lattice or pastry round on top, and crimp as desired.
Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to set the pastry.
Meanwhile, position the oven racks at the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the pie on the rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, move the pie to the center oven rack, and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 35 to 40 minutes longer.
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
The pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days or at rom temperature for 2 days.
All Butter Crust for Double Crust Pie (from “The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book” by Emily Elsen & Melissa Elsen)
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup ice
Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-sized pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend.)
Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the bench scraper or your hands or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Divide the dough in half and shape the dough into flat discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow.
Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.