Strawberry Balsamic Pie

strawberrypie1 My husband and the two college-age kids are romping around Poland and the Czech Republic this week, while my youngest and I tend to reality back home (sadly our spring breaks did not align this year).  All reports are that they are having a fantastic time. Photos of pierogies and other fabulous food stuffs keep arriving via text.  Oh yes, and a few scenic squares and churches as well. I believe the kids are actually planning a guest blog post outlining their culinary adventures upon their return.

The thing is, they took the good camera with them, so I had resolved I would take a week off from blogging, as I didn’t want to revert back to iPhone photography.  I can’t seem to help myself though… you see, I was paging through my copy of the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, came across this pie, and had to try a version of it. Immediately.  And the iPhone picture isn’t half bad, I must say.  So then I felt a need to share the recipe with you all…

Let me take a moment to gush about this cookbook.  I have always loved pies, but have never seen a collection of recipes and photos nearly as enticing as the gals have collected in this wonder of a book.  I really do want to work my way through the entire collection… I made the maple buttermilk custard pie (simply amazing), but need to try my hand at the cinnamon apricot, the bourbon pear, the salted caramel apple, the sweet cherry streusel… it’s quite a list.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

The authors, 20-something sisters Emily and Melissa Elsen, carefully walk readers through the technique for great pie crusts (let me admit, they would likely be horrified to witness my frozen pie crust shortcut), and present their pie selections according to the seasons.  And have I mentioned the photography is magnificent?

They call for a lattice-top to this strawberry-balsamic wonder, but I have to be honest.  I only had one crust in my freezer.  So I made a quick crumble topping, which worked very nicely.

I find it’s best to create a celebration to go with a pie, so I invited a couple of families over to watch basketball on Sunday afternoon with Peter and I.  Then I realized I would actually have to serve dinner first, so I conjured up my wacky version of the Homesick Texan brisket (which did not photograph well at all…) with some mashed potatoes and slaw.  I love having friends for Sunday dinner.  We had such a great visit.

Then, finally, it was time for the pie.   It was so good that for a few wonderful warm balsamic-strawberry filled moments, I forgot Peter and I were missing a big adventure in Eastern Europe… it’s that good.

Try it – I’m sure you’ll love it as well.

Strawberry Balsamic Pie

 adapted from The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily and Melissa Elsen

  • One Trader Joe’s Frozen Pie Crust
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 lbs fresh strawberries, rinsed and quartered
  • 1 small baking apple (such as Northern Spy or Golden Delicious
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Crumb topping:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into half-inch pieces.

Place the crust into a pie pan, crimp the edges, and place in the refrigerator.

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 one hour.

Prepare the crumb topping:  Place the flour, brown sugar, almonds and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on low-speed until evenly mixed. Add the cold butter and mix on low-speed until the mixture looks like wet sand and starts to form clumps, 5 to 6 minutes.  Set aside.

Peel the apple and shred on the large hole of a box grater.  Drain the strawberries of excess liquid and combine with the shredded apple.  Sprinkle on the balsamic vinegar.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, black pepper and salt.  Gently fold the sugar mixture into the strawberry mixture.  Pour the filling into the pie shell, then cover with the crumb topping. 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.

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 has set and beginning to brown.  Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees, 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, 2 to 3 hours… Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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