Hello all, hope you had a great Fourth of July! Today is Pie Day in the blogosphere, if you didn’t get the announcement. Everyone has been invited to bake pie – any pie, and write/photograph/tweet/blog about it. So if you see a great deal of pie on the internet today, I hope it entices you to go out and have a slice of something sweet.
I will quickly admit I am not a pie person: I mean, I love eating pie, but there are many other talented bakers out there who specialize in pie, whereas I merely dip an occasional toe in from across the pie-tart line. But there are really no better reasons than summer, and a blog event to get me to exercise my underused pie muscles.
And as soon as I decided to make a pie, inspiration shot out of the clear blue summer sky: strawberries, and the lemon verbena that’s growing on my balcony. Two of my very absolute favorite things about summer. I call it the I Heart Summer Pie.
The crust is a simple pâte brisée, filled with strawberries tossed in brown sugar and a scattering of lemon verbena leaves. I made a lattice top because I like seeing the fruit peek through, and I sprinkled liberally with turbinado sugar to make the top sweetly crunchy.
So pretty even under construction it was tempting to just eat the fresh berries. The trick is not to overfill the pie crust, as the cooking fruit will bubble up. Also, a lattice crust lays out more nicely over a flat top.
Using a pastry wheel to cut out the strips for the lattice. There’s something very satisfying about marking a flat, pristine piece of dough into neatly serrated sections.
The strawberries from the farmers’ market tasted like pure concentrated summer. The lemon verbena perfumed the pie nicely, although I would have liked the flavor to be stronger; next time I think I’ll make a lemon verbena syrup and cover the strawberries in it before baking. I also made mini pies because I think they look cuter that way with a single heart in the center. I have to say, for a spur-of-the-moment combination and some rusty pie crust technique, it wasn’t bad at all. But I think a great deal of that has to do with the the axiom that everything tastes better on a beautiful day, especially when it’s summer fruit. P.S. It tastes even better the next day, after the strawberry and lemon verbena have gotten a chance to mingle even more. A scoop of ice cream wouldn’t hurt either.
If you heart summer, don’t let it pass without having a slice of some really good pie.
"I Heart Summer" Strawberry Lemon Verbena Pie
- 3 cups ( 15 oz) all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) water, very cold
- 20 oz strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 lemon verbena leaves
For the pâte brisée:
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add about a third of the butter into the bowl. Keep the rest of the Add about a third of the butter to the bowl. Keep the rest of the butter in the refrigerator to keep it cold. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add another third of the butter to the bowl in the same way, and then the rest of the butter. Do not overwork the mixture.
- Drizzle the ice water over the mixture and use a fork to stir the mixture until it just starts to clump together. Do not work it into one homogeneous ball of dough. The pieces of dough should just stick together when you press them together. Add a little more water if the dough is still too dry and crumbly.
- Form the dough into two balls. Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, and chill for an hour to firm.
- Roll one disk of dough out into a 13" circle. Fit into a 9" pie pan and trim the edges so there is about a 1/2" overhang. Or, you can cut out circles and fit them into mini pie pans - you will get about (4) 5" mini pies if you are careful. Chill the pie crust while you make the filling.
For the filling:
- Combine the strawberries, sugars, flour, salt, and lemon verbena leaves together in a medium bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Take out the pie crust and pour in the filling.
- Roll out the second disk of dough to a 13" circle. Using a knife or pastry cutter, cut (14) 1/2" strips of dough. Lay strips over the pie filling in a lattice pattern. Press ends of dough strips into the bottom crust. Brush the lattice lightly with water and sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top.
- Bake pie for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and fruit is bubbling (may take less time for mini pies). Let cool on wire rack before serving.