Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Strawberry Sweetheart Pie

You don't have to use this design, but I personally love it.
I love pie, but here's the thing: it's not easy. Oh, sure, there's the expression "it's as easy as pie," but I assure you that it is the simplest of things that are the easiest to screw up. There are about a billion tricks and 'hacks' to make pies easier, but if you need that many hacks, you need to acknowledge that it's not an easy thing. A pie is something with a decent amount of moving parts, and you need to respect that. That being said, don't let me stop you from making a pie for your sweetheart.

You can also court your loved one by putting the raspberries on your
fingertips and chase them around the house. Because, you know, why
not spice things up?
Here's a quick note about holy basil and rosewater. Roses are a sign of many goddesses of love, such as Venus or Freya. Holy basil is sacred in Hindu medicine, said to relieve anxieties and even cause prophetic dreams. Both of these also taste great, add lovely notes to your pie...but why not add a tiny touch of magic to your love life? 

Strawberry Sweetheart Pie
  • 10.5 oz AP flour (2 cups + 1 Tbsp)
  • 8 oz (2 sticks) vegetable shortening/lard
  • Vodka A/N
  • 1 pt strawberries, cleaned and sliced
  • 2/3 c honey
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vegan gelatin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 oz raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp dried holy basil
First thing's first - combine the berries in a bowl and salt them. Add in the rosewater, holy basil, and sprinkle the gelatin over it, doing your best to not get any clumps. Give the berries a good stir and allow to sit, covered with plastic wrap, and macerate. Meanwhile, make your pie crust.

Here's my favorite way to do it: 

Pop your flour in the bowl of a standing mixer and pop it in the freezer - yes, flour and all - while you measure out your shortening and cut it up into small pieces. You can freeze the pieces, too, of course, but it's not 100% necessary. (You want everything cold, as cold as possible.) When cold, bring everything together using the paddle attachment of your standing mixer. No, really! Just pop in the fat and let the paddle cut it in without warming it - a standing mixer has no body heat. Once the fat is about the size of a pea, add in about a tablespoon of vodka at a time to just bring things together. Bring the dough up together in a ball and cut the ball in half. Press each half into some plastic wrap to form a disc. Pop the discs in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or in the fridge overnight. Up to you.

When you're ready, set your oven to 350 degrees F and place your baking rack on the bottom-most rung. Gently spray a pie dish - glass or ceramic is ideal, but a metal tin will suffice. Take two sheets of parchment paper and spray liberally with pan-spray. Unwrap one of your discs and sandwich it between these sheets, lubed-side on the dough. Simply rolling out your dough like this does two things: keeps it from adding excess flour, and makes it unbelievably easy to clean up. Line your pie tin with your dough, and allow to rest in the pan while you roll out your second disc.

Juicy? Oh yeah. You need that liquid for the gelatin to activate!
Here's another trick: sprinkle about a teaspoon of equal parts cornmeal and cornstarch in the bottom of your crust before you add in your filling. This tiny little extra something contributes to your pie bottom not being soggy, and nobody likes a soggy bottom.

Now that you've gotten your filling macerated, add in your powdered sugar and honey, and stir until well-combined. It might be a little weird and grainy - that's because of the gelatin. Don't fret! Pour your filling into your untrimmed dough-lined pie tin. Fluff up the edges on the pie just to make sure that you've gotten everything completely covered.

With your second half of dough rolled out, you can cut out shapes. I chose a small round cutter, that was about an inch in diameter, and punched out holes at equal intervals. You can choose anything, even small hearts for Valentine's Day! You can now take a bit of milk or water, dip your finger in it, and line the crust to moisten. Carefully lift the dough by the parchment sheet and flip it over so all you have to do is gently peel off the top layer of paper to reveal a nice pie crust layered on top.

Now you can trim the edges! You can also re-roll out those edges to make more circles, so you can decorate your now-assembled pie. You can use an eggwash if you aren't 100% committed to this being vegan, or a simple mixture of dairy-free milk substitute and sugar to wash the top instead. It's your pie, so you do what you like.

Place the pie on a sheet tray lined with foil to catch anything that might leak over the sides, and bake at 350 on the bottom-most run of the oven(this also helps get a crisp bottom) for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until both bottom and top are a crisp brown. (This is another reason a glass pie tin is ideal.)

Evacuate the pie and let cool for at least 2 hours. I like to do half of that cooling at room temperature and then the rest in the fridge. You want two hours because strawberry has pectin that will help it gel naturally, but the gelatin you've added will give it that extra staying power, which will look quite lovely when you've sliced into it. Otherwise, everything will spill out and you'll definitely get a soggy bottom from that juicy liquid gold going out.

This pie is pleasantly tart, so serve with some nice cream or powdered sugar on top, or even some dairy-free whipped topping. If you start now, you can have it ready in plenty of time to serve to your sweetheart tonight. Or, you know, for yourself when you're living your best life, watching horror movies on Netflix. Yes, you should watch horror movies on Valentine's Day if you're celebrating it alone. Why? Because if you watch horror movies in your house, alone, you won't feel alone by the time it ends.



Happy baking and happy eating!