Friday, December 11, 2020


The older I get, the more I love old-fashioned pies. They are such a comfort for me, both in making, and in savouring, and this little gem is a true beauty. A symphony of tender buttery, flaky layers, tangy berry filling, and a rich dark chocolate glaze.
As many old-fashioned desserts are, it is incredibly rich in flavour, yet utterly humble in ingredients and preparation. One of those desserts that is meant to be made while the lunch is cooking, modest in nature, yet perfectly comforting. The sweetness of the pie dough, the tartness of the berries, the almost bitter chocolate topping, everything melded together in one gorgeous slice.
Any combination of berries will work beautifully in this pie, although my favourite is the blend of plenty of forest strawberries, a handful of redcurrants, and a few cherries. Both fresh and frozen berries can be used, it is only important that they be at room temperature before making the pie.
It is truly best served after a night in the refrigerator, so all the flavours meld together and the fragile layers absorb some of the moisture from the filling, and melt on every bite.

For the pie dough layers
180 grams plain flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
50 grams vegan butter, softened
50 grams granulated sugar
30 grams apple honey
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
30 millilitres cold water
For the berry filling
300 grams red berries
50 millilitres cold water
50 grams granulated sugar
40 grams cornflour
20 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
50 grams vegan butter, at room temperature
For the dark chocolate frosting
100 grams dark chocolate
30 millilitres vegetable oil

To make the pie dough layers, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl, add in the sugar, and whisk well. Make a well in the centre and add in the butter, honey, and vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon briefly, until the dough starts to come together, and then gently knead until a crumbly dough forms. At that point, it will be too crumbly, so start adding the icy cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until a soft dough comes together.
Immediately roll the dough out into four discs that are about 15 centimetres in diameter. Place the dough discs on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, and bake in a preheated oven, at 180C, for about 8-10 minutes. Watch them carefully as they bake, because they are not supposed to brown, only very lightly on the edges. As soon as they are baked, remove them from the oven, and use a cake ring or a large cookie cutter (15 cm) to trim the edges and make them more even and prettier. Let the layers cool down to room temperature.
To make the berry filling, place the fruit in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the sugar, and place the saucepan over medium heat. Once it comes to a gentle boil, let it cook for about 5 minutes, until it starts thickening up. Meanwhile, whisk together the cold water, sifted cornflour and plain flour, as well as the vanilla, and reserve. After 5 minutes of cooking, add in the cornflour mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens, about a minute or two. Remove from the heat and immediately add in the diced butter. Mix until it melts entirely into the berry filling. Let the filling cool slightly, so it is lukewarm, and proceed to assemble the pie.
Place the first pie dough layer onto the serving platter, close a cake ring around it, and line it with a strip of acetate, slightly taller than the cake ring. Divide the filling into three equal parts, by either weight or estimation, and spread a third of it onto the dough. Very gently place another pie layer on top, and gently press down so it lays flat on the filling. Spread another third of the filling, and repeat the process until all of the ingredients are used up. Let the pie stand in a cool place for about an hour or so.
Melt the chocolate with the oil in a double boiler or in the microwave, pour it over the pie, and gently shake the platter so it distributes evenly. Let the glaze start setting and then place the whole pie into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Let the pie come to room temperature before serving, and serve with strong coffee. Yields 12 servings.