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Rhubarb, Cherry & Strawberry Balsamic Pie


The cold weather has had me thinking about baking a lot lately. Baking and roasting. Baking and roasting of all kinds. As long as the oven is on and keeping my little Sydney home warm.

Along with the chilly winter weather, my little strawberry pot is covered with flowers, promising me tiny little strawberries in the coming weeks. In my books, nothing beats the taste of fresh berries. I just love them and always have.

Over the weekend we went on a getaway to the Hunter Valley and whilst at the beautiful home my dad was staying at, I stumbled across some rhubarb growing in the kitchen garden. Just like the strawberries, I haven't stopped thinking of them and the recipes I could use them in.

This combined with my current obsession with keeping the oven going, it really was a no-brainer. A pie must be created.

So, while feeling extremely under the weather, and with a little trip to the shops, my plans came together with the most delicious strawberries staring at me at the front of the store and rhubarb close behind. Then a punnet of ruby red Cherries screamed at me to include them and I suddenly had my plan.

Rhubarb, Cherry & Strawberry Balsamic Pie.

Why balsamic? I tasted some amazing balsamics in the Hunter Valley over the weekend. It got my thinking of the classic unusual, pairing of strawberries and balsamic, alongside my family's Christmas Balsamic Cherries. It's an unbeatable flavour combo. Perfect for those of us who love fruit driven desserts and something to lift food from good to great.

Take note of the simplicity of this pie for those of us who either couldn't be bothered making our own pastry, or simply don't want to risk it. This pie is a cheats version and using a store bought frozen shortcrust pastry. By all means, create your own if you wish! If you do, I'd suggest putting some ground cinnamon or lemon zest through your dough to add a little extra pizzazz.

Included as a little extra in this recipe is the nifty little recipe for a caramel with a twist, using the leftover fruit juices from the pie filling. Rosana's Fruit Caramel recipe is included in Step 7 and is a clever way to avoid wastage and add a delicious extra to your desserts!

RHUBARB, CHERRY & STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC PIE

Serve 8-12

You will need a pie dish for this recipe. I used a medium to large ceramic dish.

INGREDIENTS

Fruit filling:

2-3 punnets of strawberries, stalks removed

500g fresh cherries, pitted

6-8 rhubarb stalks, chopped into 2-3cm pieces

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated

1 cup of unrefined coconut sugar (I used CSR)

1/2 tsp cornflour

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar (caramelised if possible)

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 cinnamon stick

Pie base and top:

Butter, to grease

Flour, to dust

3-4 sheets of shortcrust pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup almond meal

Raw sugar (for sprinkling)

To Serve:

Mascarpone

Rosana's Fruit Caramel:

Reserved juices from fruit filling (see step 4)

1/3 cup unrefined coconut sugar

1/3 cup cream

Knob of butter

1. Place half of the strawberries (reserve the rest) into a ceramic or glass bowl with the pitted cherries, chopped rhubarb, grated apple, coconut sugar, cornflour, balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon stick.

Invest in one of these cherry pitters. It's a life saver!

Stir to combine and set aside to macerate for an hour, stirring every now and then to disperse flavours and juices.

2. After macerating, place the fruit mixture into a pot, place on the stove and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until mixture begins to break down and slightly thicken.

This process takes approximately 5-10 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat. Leave aside to cool slightly.

3. Preheat your fan forced oven to 180-200 degrees celcius. Grease a deep pie dish with butter and dust with flour.

Line with thawed shortcrust pastry, trimming pieces to fit as necessary.

Cut excess from the edge of the dish, leaving some overhang for pastry shrinkage during cooking.

Use a fork to pierce small holes across the surface of the pastry to avoid bubbles forming.

Place baking paper inside the pastry and fill with rice (or baking weights).

Blind bake for 10-15 minutes.

Note: the rice helps keep the pastry down during this part of the process. I reuse rice a few times for this purpose. I'd suggest keeping it in a sealed container after cooling if you plan to do the same.

Remove from oven, pour rice aside to cool. Discard baking paper. Brush the pastry lightly with the egg mixture and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. This will help to seal the pastry again.

The egg wash helps to reseal the small holes from the fork which aren't needed from this point on. It also helps seal the pastry a little to protect it from the moisture of the filling.

Rotate the pie to ensure it is sealed evenly

4. Remove the pie dish from the oven to cool slightly. While cooling, place a strainer over a bowl and carefully pour the cooled fruit mixture into the strainer.

Strain and reserve the liquid (refer to the Rosana's Fruit Caramel recipe in Step 7 of this recipe).

The reserved fruit liquid

Spread the almond meal over the base of the pastry, which will help absorb excess moisture, then spoon in the drained fruit mixture.

Top with the reserved fresh strawberries.

5. Using another sheet of the short crust pastry, cut it into strips and weave it together to form a pastry topping.

After the first strip is laid, weave the opposite strips across it. After that it's simply a matter of alternating the strips to gently flip back as you lay the next length of pastry across the pie.

Trim the lattice edges once all of the strips are properly put together.

Note: there's so many patterns you can make with pastry.

Look on Pinterest for more inspiration.

6. Lightly brush the pastry with the egg mixture, ensuring to brush some between the edges and the pastry lattice to make sure it sticks together properly as it bakes.

Carefully get some of the egg wash under the pastry lattice.

Sprinkle raw sugar over the top of the pastry.

Place the pie into the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown.

While the pie is baking, you will have time to make the Fruit Caramel if you are making it.

7. Rosana's Fruit Caramel: if you'd like to try this, pour the reserved fruit liquid into a pan, along with the coconut sugar. Stir it together and bring to the boil over a medium high heat on the stove.

Reduce heat to a simmer and reduce the liquid by half.

When it's bubbling away, similar to a toffee, add 1/3 cup of cream and a knob of butter and whisk together.

Allow to cook until thickened.

Remove from heat and pour into a serving jug. Serve with the pie, or reserve to use with a chocolate cake and ice-cream. The tart flavour is perfect for breaking through the richness of chocolate flavours too.

8. After the pie is ready, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.

Serve with mascarpone and Rosana's Fruit Caramel. Yummo!

My little piece of pie that I had for dessert later on the night I made the pie.

You'll notice the colour change in this particular photo, which is from my kitchen lights! No filter.

WINE SUGGESTION

With a fruit based dessert like this one, you can't go past a good dessert wine. Look for one that's light and fresh like the beautiful 'Lucia Dessert Wine' made by Krinklewood in the Hunter Valley. If you prefer liquors then I'd definitely suggest a hazelnut driven drop such as Frangelico, or Nocello which is a combination of hazelnut and walnut. Both are delicious and easily found at big liquor stores such as Dan Murphy's (as linked).

If you're serving the pie for morning or afternoon tea a good cup of chamomile tea would be perfect as well.

Enjoy!

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People who love to eat

are always the best people.

- Julia Child