Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I'm here to admit that I am a pie crust stealer.
Especially if the crust is awesome. I know you may now think less of me but hey, that's the bit of the pie with all the 'bad' things in it; so how can it not be the star of the show? Rest assured though, I'm no pie crust snob. Having not grown up with pies, there's no inclination in my blood to go around trying out 20 crust recipes before finding the 'perfect' one. There just has to be enough butter and flavor in it. Baking up flaky and rustically golden brown helps too.
For some time now I have been ever so slightly infatuated with Maggie Beer's admirable sour cream pastry since the day I saw her make this pheasant pie on Masterchef Australia. I love that this crust recipe is fuss free - just three ingredients, yet just by looking at how it was so easily handled and cooked so beautifully, I was convinced it will deliver in both taste and texture the day I get off my chair to try it. The ratio of butter:flour is almost 1:1 and she even let out that this is the only pie crust she uses for everything, sweet or savory.
And so it was perfect.
So perfect, it may possibly be my only pie crust, ever. But let's not forget the filling. While I may nick your crust when you're not looking, I place no less importance in heart and center of the pie. For several strawberry lovers at the cafe's kitchen, I looked to Deb and her strawberry rhubarb pie version two did not disappoint. If you can get hold of tapioca flour where you are, do use it in place of other thickening options. It does yield a hearty, smooth filling without affecting the intended flavor of the main ingredients.
As for the filling recipe, may I suggest you to be free-spirited with it?
I made the second (smaller) pie without following exact quantities and it turn out just as it should. Give your fruits of choice a taste. Adjust the sugars according to their tartness and tapioca to the mixture's moisture. I believe the way of going by feel makes the best pie - one that my fellow kitchen mate insisted she must have another slice after a long night of dinner service and another for breakfast next day, without the need for any vanilla ice cream.
Adapted barely from Maggie Beer's Sour Cream Pastry and Deb Perelman's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Improved.
Yield: one 8 or 9-inch pie.
- 200 grams unsalted butter chilled, diced
- 250 grams plain flour
- 125 milliliters sour cream
- 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced/quartered if big, halved if tiny
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)
To make the pastry, dice the butter, then pulse with the flour in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. On a well-floured counter, roll half of the pastry 3 mm thick, about 11 to 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to an 8 or 9-inch pie plate. (I normally roll the flat pastry over my rolling pin, then unroll it over the pie dish.)
Stir together strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca flour in a large bowl. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter, keeping the center with more filling than the sides. Roll out the other half of the pastry into a 10 to 11-inch circle. From here on, you can cut slits into it, do the lattice work or use pie cutters. Cover the pie with your choice of pastry decoration. Tuck the rim of pastry underneath itself and crimp decoratively.
Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk mixture over the pastry. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When fully cooled (several hours later), the pie juices will gel and cut nicely.
Do ahead: Pie keeps for up to three days at room temperature, usually mine will be gone on day two.
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