Syrah is one of my favorite wines, and this crostata, a rustic free-hand pie, is inspired by the same fresh berry, bright pepper, and earthy undertones of that wine. Capitalizing on those flavors results in this unexpected but delicious dessert.
||Silpats are a kitchen lifesaver. They prevent even the most delicate baked goods from sticking, are reusable, and super-easy to clean. $27, Sur La Table
First, make the pie crust:
||For pie crust:
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup hot milk
1 sprig thyme, leaves removed
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
salt and pepper
2 cups strawberries, quartered
1 tablespoon St. Germain (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
||1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/8-1/4 cup ice water
1. In a food processor, or using your fingertips (quickly!), combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter until the chunks of butter are broken down to the size of peas, and the mixture feels like wet sand.
2. Add the first 1/8 cup of water, and mix until the dough comes together easily. (Note: it's too dry if it immediately clumps apart.)
3. Add two tablespoons of water at a time--you can always add more water, but not more flour, so be careful not to add too much!
4. Gather the dough into a ball and plop it on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Loosely wrap up the ball and press down, smooshing the ball into a disc about an inch thick.
5. Pop the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
For the pie:
Preheat oven to 400F
1. Mix together egg, sugar, salt, and vanilla and stir well.
2. Scald the milk by cooking it in a non-reactive (meaning, not aluminum) pot over medium low heat for a minute or two, while stirring. Once it's steaming and small bubbles have formed at the edge, it's done.
3. Blend the scalded milk into the egg, sugar, salt and vanilla mixture.
3. Roll the pie dough out on a well-floured surface into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick.
4. Place the crust on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
5. Take the outer 1-inch edge of the crust and fold it up, pinching it so it forms a tall edge around the border of the crust.
6. Pour the egg mixture (your custard) into the crust.
7. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.
8. Sprinkle the thyme over the pie.
9. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes and cool on a rack.
10. Mix the strawberries, St. Germain, lemon juice, and sugar together, and let them sit for 15 minutes.
11. Top the crostata with the strawberries. You can serve immediately, or at room temp. (I love anything a la mode
, and this would be delicious with vanilla ice cream.)
Photograph: Claire Thomas