Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!
I should have waited until later in the summer to make this pie, when strawberries are in season and I'll be able to pick pints of them when I pick up my farm share. But what can I say? I'm impatient. I got this pie cookbook at a cute little kitchen store in Saratoga Springs. I was immediately drawn in by the stunning photos and a few of the recipes that looked not only fabulous but also adaptable to our particular dietary needs.
The book is separated into sections based on season and then further into months. When I told my wife I was going to be making the strawberry basil pie, she asked if I shouldn't wait a little longer, until strawberries are really in season here.
But it's one of the pies for June! I exclaimed. And it's June!
With the cold lingering these last few weeks and me spending most of my time in long sleeves, I'm looking for summer wherever I can get it. And this strawberry basil pie tastes pretty much like summer on a plate. Even warm, its subtle flavors are refreshing and light. If you're a little skeptical of the salad-like ingredients, don't be. The basil, balsamic vinegar, and pepper just provide hints of a more sophisticated flavor and keep the pie from being overly sweet.
And this crust. Yum.
It's the best one I've made so far, significantly more like pastry dough than my regular go-to pie crust.
I also think the spelled-out method for creating the dough in the food processor was helpful for me to understand exactly when to stop processing. I might try her method with my go-to and see if that results in a flakier crust.
Vegan Strawberry Basil Pie
Adapted from First Prize Pies
1 cup Earth Balance, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1/2 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour, chilled
3/4 cup cornmeal, chilled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1. Stir together the milk and vinegar and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Fit the food processor with a metal blade and add the dry ingredients, pulsing once to blend.
3. Take your milk mixture and Earth Balance out of the refrigerator. Pour the Earth Balance into the food processor and turn it on.
4. After a couple seconds, begin slowly pouring the milk mixture through the feed tube of the food processor. Once the mixture has been added, turn off the processor.
5. Pour the dough onto plastic wrap, bind it tightly, and refrigerate for at least an hour. (Note: The dough should come together if pressed but will not have formed a ball on its own in the food processor.)
8 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled and halved
10 large basil leaves, sliced very thinly
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
zest of 1 lemon
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or sub cornstarch)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Almond milk wash, for glaze
Coconut palm sugar, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients. If you are using frozen strawberries, thaw and drain them prior to mixing.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the arrowroot, pepper, and salt. Add this to the strawberry mixture right before adding the filling to the crust.
Putting it together
1. Remove the crust dough from the refrigerator and split in half. Place one half back into the refrigerator and roll the other half into a circle on parchment paper. Transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate and trim the overhang.
2. Place the pie plate in the refrigerator and take out the other half of the dough. Roll this second half into a circle and cut into six strips.
3. Pour the strawberry mixture (with the arrowroot mixture added in) into the pie pan and form a lattice on the top. Trim the edges and use a fork to crimp. Brush the top with almond milk and sprinkle with sugar.
4. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through.
5. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the strawberry juices have thickened. Cool on a rack at least an hour before serving.
Note: Earth Balance and nondairy milk are subbed one-for-one for butter and milk in this recipe - feel free to use dairy ingredients if you can.
p.s. I'm 8 pies in on my 24 pie challenge. Here's what I've made so far: