It’s no secret I’m quite the strawberry lover. Oh, and a pie lover too. There are quite a few recipes featuring both on the back archives, but none yet that have combined the two. That is until now.
The strawberries in Australia are amazingly beautiful at the moment…ripe, sweetly fragrant and very juicy. And a tonne of them fell into my lap recently. So naturally, I needed to use them up as fresh, seasonal strawberries tend to ripen all too quickly.
I have been meaning to make a slab pie for a while now, and was inspired by a recipe for a Bluebarb Slab Pie from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, so with my over-ripening strawberries I was spurred into action.
This Strawberry Balsamic Slab Pie features my favourite pie crust. It’s an incredibly golden, buttery and flaky crust – thanks to the little addition of apple cider vinegar and a generous amount of butter. For the slab pie, the recipe requires a lot of dough and I recommend that you halve the recipe and make it in two batches to save yourself both time and elbow grease.
Feel free to substitute your own favourite pie crust too. Having a strong attachment to a favourite pie crust is a true baker’s milestone to be celebrated, just like this Strawberry Balsamic Slab Pie.
Of all fruit, I find that strawberries need the least amount of adornment. So, for the filling, I went with a sweetly-acidic combination of strawberries and balsamic vinegar. The combination is a new favourite of mine, as I have recently discovered that strawberries and balsamic make a perfect pairing in anything – be it sweet or savoury.
If you never have tasted the two together, I encourage you to give it a try. The balsamic vinegar adds an unusually delicious, enhanced and addictive flavour layer; it does not over-power rather just complements the sticky-sweet strawberries perfectly.
I can’t believe I had never made a slab pie before this one. And after this, if ever I get invited to compete in a pie baking contest, this Strawberry Balsamic Slab Pie will be my entry and the blue ribbon winner. Served plain, with fresh whipped cream, or a side of vanilla bean ice cream. It’s delightful.
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. sea salt
- 2 tbsp. granulated (caster) sugar
- 1 pound / 4 sticks / 450 g cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch / 1 ½ cm pieces
- 2 cups cold water
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups ice
- 7-8 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
- 1 small red apple
- 4 tbsp. granulated (caster) sugar
- 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. angostura bitters
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- A grind of pepper
- Egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 tsp. water)
- Demerara (raw) sugar, for sprinkling
- Make the crust recipe in two batches, dividing the recipe in half. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and sugar. Add in the cubed butter pieces and mix to coat with the flour using a spatula or bench scraper. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-sized pieces of butter remain.
- Combine the water, cider vinegar and ice in a large measuring cup. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated.
- Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time then using the bench scraper and your hands mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry/flak-y bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling any dry bits with small drops of water if necessary.
- Shape and lightly flatten the dough into a rectangle, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight. You should have two dough rectangles - one for the bottom crust and one for the top. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
- Butter a rimmed baking slab sheet and line with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll the first chilled dough rectangle into a 20 x 16 inch / 50 x 40 cm rectangle, or 3 to 4 inches / 7 ½ x 10 cm larger than your baking sheet. Fit the dough inside the sheet. Roll out the second chilled dough rectangle into a 17 x 13 inch / 43 x 33 cm rectangle. Lay in the pan on top of the bottom crust, folding in half if necessary, and place in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.
- Combine the strawberries in a large bowl.
- Peel the apple, shred on the large holes of a box grater, and add to the strawberries, along with the granulated (caster) sugar, balsamic vinegar and bitters. Mix thoroughly then gently stir in the light brown sugar followed by the sea salt and a small grind of pepper.
- Remove the crusts from the fridge and set the top crust rectangle aside.
- Fit the bottom crust into the lined baking slab sheet then pour in the filling.
- Working quickly on a lightly floured surface, cut out little heart-shaped sized vents with a cookie cutter over the top crust then very gently transfer it over the filled bottom crust.
- Press and roll the two crusts together then pinch all the way around to create a seam. Crimp the edges as desired. Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set the pastry.
- Meanwhile, place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven, and pre-heat to 425 F / 220 C.
- Remove the pie from the refrigerator and brush the pastry with the egg wash. Sprinkle with the desired amount of demerara sugar.
- Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375 F / 190 C, move the pie to the center oven rack, and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the strawberry juices are bubbling, roughly 30 to 35 minutes longer.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days or at room temperature for 2 days.