A couple of weeks ago, I sent my friend, Rebecca from Figs and Pigs, a couple of sakura-based ingredients to try out in her kitchen. Cherry blossoms are some of my favourite Spring flowers and they are the flavours I look forward to having every year, with strawberries following shortly after. Part of the reason for starting this blog was to share recipes with my friends, family, and just about anyone who comes across my blog who may be interested in exploring and playing with new ingredients and flavours. Being that Rebecca is the ultimate foodie with the most diverse collection of delicious recipes, it seemed rather logical to me that sharing this floral ingredient would be an amazing inspiration for her!
Even better was the Rebecca’s suggestion to make this into a collaboration: we would both have to create a recipe that would use sakura along side strawberries in order to celebrate how glorious and diverse this ingredient can be. It was also decided that both recipes would be released on the 24th May (today). Initially, I thought about making a refreshing drink with the ingredients (hello, Strawberry, Sakura, Mint Ice Tea) or even a cocktail (Cherry Blossom Paloma, anyone?) but after some serious thinking, I began to doubt whether I wanted to make drinks. And I kept on doubting.
Then, out of nowhere, last Friday evening, when Djamo took me out for dinner, I had a jolt of inspiration, the kind that literally stops you in your train of thought (or in my case, halfway through my food order) and makes you go wide-eyed and your mouth ajar, as if you had had some sort of moment of revelation or the answer to the meaning of life. You alright? Djamo asked. Pie, was the only word I could muster for a good five minutes whilst I relished in the brilliance of the idea. I had decided to completely indulge myself and try and make a pie. Not just any pie, mind, but a braided lattice pie. Truth is, I have never actually made a strawberry pie before, and I have certainly never made a braid on top. However, I was so smitten with Aimee’s lattice braid on her Earl Grey and Bergamot Lemon Poached Pear Pie that I knew it was something I wanted to try for myself.
So, this pie was born.
Lattice Braid Pie Crust
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours plus cooling
Makes: 1 x 8inch pie
This pie tasted remarkably like a strawberry mojito (minus the booze) and was wonderfully refreshing to eat. For some extra cherry blossom flavour, I decided to top my pie with some homemade sakura ice-cream (recipe here).
4 cups plain flour
1/2tsp fine salt
4tbsp confectionary sugar
1 1/3 cups butter, cold
2/3 cup water
1 beaten egg, for brushing
Strawberry Cherry Blossom Filling
Makes: enough for 1 x 8inch pie
4-5 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
20 pickled cherry blossoms, washed and dried
2tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup cornflour
1tsp ginger, ground
2tbsp finely chopped mint, fresh
2tbsp finely chopped lemon thyme, fresh
1tsp black pepper, ground
1tsp cinnamon, ground
1tsp cardamom, ground
Begin by washing the cherry blossoms under cold water and squeezing out any excess salt. Pat dry with a paper towel and blitz in a coffee grinder until chopped into small, fine pieces. Place in a small bowl along with the sugars and set aside.
Next, make the dough. Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and begin to work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers. When the texture of wet sand is achieved pour in the water, a little at a time until the pastry dough just comes together in a ball. Cut into two pieces and wrap each in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan-assisted) 400ºF. Cut the strawberries in half and place into a bowl along with the bowl of sugars and the rest of the ingredients. Stir to coat and combine.
Take out the chilled dough and begin to roll them out. The first one should be rolled out thinly (1/8inch thick) to fill the bottom of the pie tin and have an overhang of pastry on the sides. The second, needed to rolled into a rectangular shape and cut into 21-24 strips longways with a pizza cutter. Bring 3 strips together, sealing the top by pinching together (so they do not fall away from each other) and braiding as one would with hair. Repeat with the rest of the strips until you will have 7-8 braids.
Pour the strawberry filling into the pie tin and place 4 braids (braids a, b, c, d) of equal distance longways from each other on top of the filling.
Weave the 1st and 3rd braids at an 90º angle from the other braids (this will go from left to right) first going over the other braid a and then going under braid b and repeat until all braids have been weaved. The 2nd and 4th (if using) braid will also be of equal distance from the 1st braid and will first go under braid a and then go over braid b and repeat until all braids have been weaved.
Hide the ends of the braids with the overhang edges. Brush with the egg wash and place in the oven for 15 minutes before reducing the temperature to 170ºC (150ºC fan-assisted) 350ºF for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and the juices are bubbling.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.
Thank you for reading.