Sometimes I wonder if my fiancé isn’t just a little bit crazy. Take this weekend for example. This weekend is one of his ‘favorite weekends of the year’ weekend. This was Masters weekend. Don’t know what that is? Well, I didn’t either until a few years ago. All you need to know is it’s three full days of golf. Have you ever watched a golf tournament before? Probably not, because you fell asleep 10 minutes in. A round of golf, which is typically 18 holes is televised for a good 5 hours, and that’s if there isn’t a playoff round. If there is, it’s even longer. That’s at least five long hours of your fiancé sitting in front of the television, occasionally asking you to watch some miraculous putt or crazy chip shot. Five. Hours. So, in times such as these one must find ways to participate, but not actually have to watch. Because when he asks you to watch said putt, you get to respond with “I’m busy making you dessert”. So with that, let’s talk about pie.
I usually shy away from pie in the winter, thank goodness that is (almost) not the case now. To me, pie really shines when it’s created with the best of what is in season. Glorious strawberries, rhubarb, blueberries, peaches, the list goes on and on. To me, pie is for lazy warm days, best served with a giant scoop of ice cream, rivulets of it running down that glorious baked fruit. While pie is all these things, pie is very time consuming. But, it is worth it in the end. Pie, coincidentally enough is also perfect for Masters weekend.
Over a year ago I received this book and have been wholly devoted to it whenever I get the itch to make pie. I have never, ever tasted better crust and I am totally convinced it has everything to do with apple cider vinegar. I have been long time intrigued by their Strawberry Balsamic Pie recipe and figured this was as good as weekend as ever, as strawberries are finally starting to show face at the markets. Balsamic and a dash of Angostura bitters are an unexpected edition and cut through the sweetness of the strawberries beautifully. This pie takes shape over the course of two days, several hours and is perfection at the end of a long day of golf watching. I was able to take my time making it, and enjoy watching all the flavors come together since my fiancé also decided to play a round prior to Sunday’s tee off. When he left it was 36 degrees outside. I wonder about that one…
*recipe from Four and Twenty Blackbird
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup ice
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 lbs fresh strawberries, rinsed and quartered (5 to 6 cups)
1 small baking apple
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
Egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt)
Demerara sugar, for finishing
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-size pieces of butter remain (a few large pieces are okay; be care 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 bend scraper or spatula (or your hands, as I prefer) 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 before shaping each portion 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 one month.
* I always make my dough the night before. The difference between 1 hour and overnight is unparalleled.
Remove dough from fridge 5-10 minutes before you begin rolling. Dough that is too cold will develop cracks when it is rolled.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll out dough until it is 2 to 3 inches larger then the pan you are using and about 1/8 inch thick.
Fold the dough disc in half and lay it across one side of a well-buttered pie pan. Unfold the disk and gently fit the dough down the pan. Trim the dough overhang to allow 1 to 1/2 inches of excess. Cover the crust with plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour or more.
Roll out the second dough portion. You can either completely cover your pie or cut lattice strips. For lattice strips, cut and also refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. I had leftover dough and plenty of time so I also braided my extra to rim around my pie.
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.
Brush the pastry with the egg wash; if your pie has a lattice top, be careful not to drag the filling onto the pastry (it will burn). Sprinkle with the desired amount of demerara sugar.
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 room temperature for 2 days, however ours will be completely gone by the end of today.