A strawberry and red currant pie.
Today’s sweltering heat of 28 deg C in the shades just wouldn’t allow a heavy meal to sit in the stomach. Snuggling up in the shade of the red currant bushes, plucking red currants in the garden also felt an inviting activity in this summer heat, and so a light strawberry and red currant pie was on the menu for lunch!
Good sun and an occasional summer drizzle is enough to give a generous harvest of red currants. Their fruits ripen around mid-July.
The currants are rather delicate and tend to squish at the slightest of touches. Still, it’s fastest in harvesting by running the stems of the currants between the fingers, so that a dozen land in your hand all at once each time.
Red currants grow in thick bunches and show off like polished cabochon rubies in the sun when ripened.
There are plenty other inhabitants who love the cool shadow of the currant bushes, so once harvested, the fruits are usually let to stand alone for awhile, so that the creatures can make their way out of the pile and back to nature, before the currants are rinsed and cooked.
While waiting for the currants to settle and clean itself, I began making the dough to the pie.
Cubed butter in sifted flour.
The dough to the pie is a standard shortcrust pastry pie recipe, my favourite pie / cookie dough, with about half butter and half flour and salt to taste. The flour was sifted and the butter cubed for easier handling with the fingertips.
The shortcrust pie recipe
6 dl (ca. 600g) flour
1/2 dl of water
1 tsp salt
The flour and butter were worked by a rubbing-in method with the fingertips and some water added to get the mixture to come together. Once the dough came together, it was wrapped with plastic and placed in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
Plastic wraps were used to facilitate rolling the dough to an even spread.
I then set about to cook the red currant jam while the dough stood in the refrigerator. Red currants lend themselves to almost anything you can do with berries. I boiled mine with some sugar, poured off the syrup into some jelly cups and kept the berries aside to make a base filling for the pie. If the jelly fails, thickeners can be added to get it to a jelly consistency, called vinbär gelé, which is eaten with pork cutlets in Sweden. Else you’d have a red currant syrup which can be made into a drink or boiled and reduced to make a splendid jam.
The red currant jam recipe
4 dl red currants
2 dl sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
Once the red currant base filling was done, I brought out the dough from the refrigerator.
I rolled the dough as evenly as I could, to fit a standard pie pan with about a 9 inch diameter. The plastic wraps shown above were used to facilitate the clean rolling of the dough and it helped in the transfer of the dough into the pie pan.
The plastic wraps helped in transferring the dough into the pie pan. A baking sheet can also be used for this purpose.
The dough was gently pat in place into the pie pan and the extra dough cut away and stored for decorative use later. The plastic sheet was removed and holes were punched into the dough, in preparation for blind-baking.
The dough, ready for blind-baking. It was baked about 10 minutes at about 225 deg C to give it some colour.
To keep the shape of the dough when blind-baking, dried peas, lentils, beans or ceramic “baking beans” can be used as filling. In this case though, I didn’t use any temporary filling, with the result that the crust came away from the sides of the pie dish just a little after baking.
For the filling of this pie, apart from the red currants, frozen strawberries were used.
Frozen strawberries and red currant jam in the far right.
Once out of the oven, the base of the baked shortcrust pie was spread with the red currant jam. The strawberries were then sliced and placed over the red currant jam.
Halfway done, the pie crust is mostly baked, berries you can eat as they are, so the choice is open as to how long this combination can be baked. This pie was baked about 10 minutes at 255 deg C to soften the strawberries and melt the sugar.
Traditional pies are decorated with a lattice design from the remaining dough. Following the sunny mood of this fantastic summer’s day, I flattened the remaining dough and punched out a number of hearts with a Christmas gingerbread cookie cutter, baked them and added them atop the sliced pies before serving.
Unbaked shortcrust hearts.
Strawberry and red currant pie.
We waited all about two minutes after it got out of the oven before sitting down to enjoy it! We topped our servings off today with vanilla ice-cream and some red currant syrup drizzled around the plate.