Black Bottom Strawberry Pie

I spent most of the day and evening cooking yesterday.

When I heard the news about Anthony Bourdain, I was absolutely crushed.  Like so many others, he brought different cultures and their food into our living rooms and our phone screens.  He was one of my favourite writers and could hook me with his vivid illustrations of eating pho in river markets in Vietnam, which prompted me to immediately add that place to my travel list.

Anytime I go on vacation, my first step is to see if he had done a show there (of course) and that would be my introduction.  He encouraged us to be more adventurous eaters and to not be afraid of new things.

So after having a few drinks in his honour with my boyfriend on Friday night, eating weird meats and simple pleasures like sardines on fresh bread, I wanted to honour and thank him the only way I knew how – cooking from his Appetites cookbook with a good friend, good wine and lack of a correct roasting pan (I live in 400sf and all my non-existant space for cooking paraphernalia goes towards baking).

We finished with this pie, celebrating the bounty of strawberries that is now upon us, contrasted with bittersweet chocolate and a hint of cardamom.

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup butter (straight from the fridge, cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar, mix it in the water)

Filling Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chocolate, chopped (70% or more)
  • 5 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced into quarters
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • Scant 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp ground arrowroot
  • Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tsp water)
  • Raw sugar, for sprinkling

Steps

To make the crust, mix together flour, sugar and salt.  Using a pastry blender, “cut” in the butter. This means you’re almost mashing the butter into the flour with the blender, ensuring all butter is covered in flour until the butter pieces are about the size of peas or a bit bigger.

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Then, splash in a bit of your water mixture (2-3 tablespoons) and mix it around with your hand.  Continue to add a little at a time and mix and squish with your hand until a large dough ball forms.  If you need to get a bit more binding, add a bit of water to your fingers to help it along.  Don’t feel compelled to use all the water, mix it in until just combined and the dough is holding together.  Cut the dough ball into two halves and flatten into disks. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

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Remove from fridge and let sit for 5-10 minutes so the dough doesn’t crack. Roll out each disk on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick (it will be about 12-13 inches in diameter).

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Fold the rolled out crust in half and set into a buttered 9 inch pie pan.  Unfold gently and settle the bottom of the crust into the corners.

 

Roll out the other dough disk and cut into 6 evenly sized strips with a paring knife or pizza cutter. This will be your lattice.  Refrigerate strips and crust lined pan for 30 minutes. (To create this lattice design, slice one of those of those strips into 3 strips and braid, to incorporate into the lattice).

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Meanwhile, make your ganache.  Bring cream near its boiling point and pour over chopped chocolate.  Allow to sit for a minute, and whisk until smooth.  Set aside.

To make the filling, sprinkle hulled and quartered strawberries with 2 tbsp white sugar, gently toss and allow to macerate for 30 minutes.  This releases the strawberry juices and makes for a more flavourful pie.

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Once macerated, drain excess strawberry juices (be sure to save for cocktails!) and sprinkle on lemon juice, stirring gently to combine.  Add brown sugar, spices, salt and arrowroot and stir until fully incorporated.

Remove pie shell from fridge and spread a thin, even layer of ganache over the bottom of the shell.  Spoon in filling, leaving behind excess juices.

Arrange lattice as desired, then roll the crust overhang over top of the ends of the lattice strips, like a crust wall trimming any overhang if you feel you need to.  Make sure the “wall” is sealed well so it doesn’t unroll while baking.

To crimp the edge of the crust, “pinch and push” using your thumb and pointer finger and other thumb, like below:

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Place the pie in the fridge for 10 minutes and preheat the oven to 425F.

Remove pie from fridge and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar to your liking.  The egg wash ensures the pie is nicely browned.

Place the pie on a baking sheet on the bottom oven rack and bake for 20 minutes until the pie crust is starting to set and brown.  Reduce the oven heat to 375F and bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust has browned and juices are bubbling throughout the pie.  Let cool for 2-3 hours and enjoy!

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