Pie one on for the summer holidays

Kandace Wysock

Table of Contents Breadcrumb Trail LinksArticle contentAdvertisementArticle contentAdvertisementArticle contentAdvertisementArticle contentShare this article in your social networkAdvertisementComments Breadcrumb Trail Links Eat Author of the article: Rita DeMontis Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Photo by Victor Azuolas photograph /Victor Azoulas Article content It’s hard to believe we’re in our second pandemic summer. The good […]

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It’s hard to believe we’re in our second pandemic summer. The good news is the country’s slowly opening up, and Canadians are moving towards beloved routines, like getting out for some fresh air to visit local farmers’ markets and country stores.

This is where you’ll see the nation’s bounty proudly on display – the fresh Canadian strawberries, for instance, and stalks of rhubarb, fiddleheads along with swaths of healthy greens. Goodness is coming our way with such seasonal favourites such as wild blueberries, peaches and pears, and so much more.

With this in mind, summer pies come to mind for a variety of reasons – they’re everywhere, brimming with the rich filling of local fare and the creativity of the person who made them.

They come in all shapes and sizes – Saveur.com is currently showcasing gorgeous hand-held pies where the star ingredient includes fresh cherries. And Canadian cherries are coming our way!

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My condo is full of creative cooks and bakers, and one such neighbour is a lovely young man named Victor Azoulas, a chartered accountant by career – who also happens to be an amazing baker. (I met Victor while he was walking his new puppy, Flavia, last Christmas, and we ended up talking food and recipes, and occasionally swapping dishes to great delight).

When Victor asked one day if I’d like to try his pie, I said – absolutely! I was blown away at how delicious it was. Throughout the months, Victor has created others as well, including fresh peach pie, ricotta torte and an amazing strawberry rhubarb pie. Victor’s pie crust is one of the best I’ve ever tasted, all light and buttery.

I finally asked for his recipe, and he happily shared.

Victor Azuolas’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Victor uses Martha Stewart’s “pate-brisee” pie dough for his fabulous strawberry-rhubarb pie. According to marthastewart.com, “pate brisee is the French version of classic pie or tart pastry.”

This recipe makes enough for a nine-inch double-crust pie, or one 10 1/2-by-15 1/4-inch single-crust slab pie.

Pie crust

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. sugar

2 sticks (1/2 lb.) cold (not frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

7 to 8 Tbsp. ice water

1 egg white beaten with teaspoon of water

Sugar

Pie crust: In bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter in pieces, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process too much. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it’s crumbly, add a bit more ice water, about 1-2 Tbsp.

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Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Place in fridge and chill about 1 hour. (Dough can be stored, frozen, for up to 1 month.)

Remove disks from fridge and allow to warm five minutes before removing from plastic wrap. On a floured surface roll out one disk (you’ll see bits of butter in the dough –  this allows for a crumbly crust.) Roll to 1/8th of an inch. Gently fold into pie plate, careful for any tears. Trim and primp edges. Place in fridge until needed. Second disk is for lattice topping.

Pie Filling:

4 cups strawberries, sliced

4 cups rhubarb (either fresh or frozen, sliced into 1-inch pieces)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tsp.  each vanilla and cinnamon

1 tsp. each lemon zest and lemon juice

2 Tbsp. (15 mL) all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. butter, cubed

Pie Filling: In a large bowl, carefully blend all ingredients except butter. Pour filling into chilled pie crust. Dot with pieces of butter all around. Roll out second disk and, using a pastry wheel, cut out even strips of dough to criss-cross over pie filling. Brush all around with egg wash. Sprinkle large granule sugar over crust.

Place in preheated 425°F oven for 15 minutes, dropping heat to 350°F for an additional 45-50 minutes, or until filling starts to bubble a bit. If crust is baking too quickly, cover edges with foil. Remove and cool, serve plain or with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Cherry Slab Pie
Cherry Slab Pie Photo by supplied /Foodland Ontario

Cherry Slab Pie

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A gorgeous recipe, courtesy Foodland Ontario (foodlandontario.ca)

Pie Crust (see Victor Azoulas recipe for two 10 1/2-by-15 1/4-inch slab pie.)

Filling

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

7 cups (1.75 L) chilled red tart cherries, drained (in fruit or frozen food section)

2 Tbsp. cherry juice

2 tsp. milk

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Let cold pastry stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, line 15- x 10-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On lightly floured surface roll out pastry into 17- x 12-inch  rectangle. Place into prepared pan, pressing into corners and sides. Roll out remaining dough to same size and cut 3/4-inch lengthwise strips for lattice top.

Filling: In large bowl, mix together 1-1/4 cups of sugar and cornstarch. Stir in cherries and juice; mix well. Spoon over bottom crust. Place lattice strips diagonally across the cherries, about 1/2-inch apart to cover top. Lay remaining strips diagonally other way, across first strips. Pinch down ends of strips to secure to pastry edges, Push edges over into inside edge of pan. Brush lattice with milk; sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake in lower third of 375°F oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Let cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Cut into squares. Serves 12.

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