Recipe of the month : Strawberry, Pistachio and Almond Paste Pie [fr]

This month, the Chef of the Consulate General of France presents us his recipe of the "Strawberry, Pistachio and Almond Paste Pie"

Hello everyone!!

I am very happy to find you here again this month of June !! This month, I am sharing a very simple strawberry pie recipe to accompany you during your Sundays with your family in the sun !!

In Europe and in North America, the Fragaria Vesca species, or wild strawberry, is small in size. Known since antiquity, the Romans used to consume it and used it in their cosmetics, since it has a pleasant smell. This species was cultivated in European gardens around the XIVth Century.

The musk strawberry is known for its small fruits that have a unique musk flavor, which connoisseurs consider superior to the regular strawberry. It has been cultivated since the XVIth Century. The first known cultivar of the Fragaria genus belongs to this species as is the Chapiron, which was named in 1576.

The green strawberry has been cultivated very little as its fruits are not as well liked, this is because their acidity is higher than the abovementioned strawberries. However, it is often picked for personal consumption.

Towards the end of the XVIth century, the explorer Jacques Cartier brought strawberry plants from Virginia (Fragaria virginiana Mill. Susbp. Virginiana) from Canada to France. The species garnered enough interest due to its fragrant fruits to be cultivated for sale especially in Great Britain and the United States. Even to this day, there is a small but loyally followed industrial production in Great Britain. It is the first strawberry to ripen.

In 1714, the officer of marine engineering Amédée François Frézier brought back from Chili five seedlings of White Chile surreptitiously, these are strawberry plants that have large fruits that had been cultivated over there for a long time by the American Indians (Fragaria chiloensis subsp. Chiloensis forma chiloensis Staudt). It turned out that these strawberry plants were uniquely male and they never bore any fruit. A few decades later, after importing fertile plants, the culture of White Chiles was attempted in Great Britain (in 1824 three varieties are described) but they were unable to resist the cold weather. In the English climate it is rarely possible to get the plant to bear fruit, and even when it does, it is difficult to get it to ripen properly.

Around 1740, the botanist Antoine Duschene noticed that beautiful fruits were obtained when a White Chile strawberry plant was cultivated near a Virginia strawberry plant. This spontaneous cross-breeding, which occurred in Bretagne, England and Holland, is the basis for the new hybrid that combines the flavor of the Fragaria virginiana and the size of the Fragaria Chiloensis, and that has a pineapple flavor which is the basis for its botanical name: Fragaria ananassa Duch. Most of the varieties of strawberry plants that bear large fruits that we cultivate today now come from this hybrid.

It is in England that several varieties from this cross-breeding will first be created, and that an industrial culture will be developed. England will then dominate the European strawberry market for a long time, in competition with Plougastel in France.

In 1740, the city of Plougastel (at the border of Brest), which already produced wild strawberries, became the first place to produce this new species, referred to as the "Plougastel Strawberry”. This culture went on to become the specialty of the township, which would produce about a quarter of the French strawberry output at the beginning of the 20th Century.

A slightly smaller variety will be developed in the South of France based on a cross-breeding with Mediterranean dwarf strawberries that require less water, the “gariguette”. This variety of strawberries is that which is sold the most in France, emerging from research undertaken at the National Institute of Agronomical Research. It was developed by Georgette Risser, an engineer at the Inra, in 1976, in the Montfavet laboratory. Around 1940, California became the first producer of strawberries worldwide. In Belgium, the Wépion region experienced a similar boom around the middle of the 20 th Century. Its production developed most actively during the Interwar Period, and reached a peak from 1950 to 1960. The reputation of the Wépion strawberries was so good that these strawberries were commercialized in Les Halles in Paris, and later at the Rungis market which succeeded them. At the beginning of the 1970s, the production declined and it only started to pick up steam again at the end of the 1990s. The industry became more professionalized and the Wépion market became a platform for commercializing a fruit that is picked when it is ripe, and sold in short channels.

1. GANACHE RAISED WITH PISTACHI0: (To be made the night before or 4 hours ahead):

  • 180 g of liquid cream
  • 80 g of Valrhona chocolate ‘couverture ivoire’
  • 15g of pistachio paste

2. THE SHORTBREAD:

  • 100 g of cold salted butter
  • 50 g of icing sugar
  • 115 g of flower type 55

3. THE ALMOND CREAM:

  • 75 g of brown sugar
  • 75 g of almond powder
  • 75 g of soft butter lightly melted
  • 75 g of eggs
  • 25 g of liquid whole cream

4. THE PREPARATION OF THE BISCUIT:

  • 150 g of semi-sweet strawberry jam
  • 20 g of shelled pistachios, whole
  • 1 Tablespoon of water
  • 650 g of strawberries

PREPARATION:

1. THE GANACHE RAISED WITH PISTACHIO: (To be made the night before or 4 hours ahead):

  • In a container, put the little chocolate bits and the pistachio paste together. In a small pan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and the pistachio and mix with a spatula. Maybe add a dash of pistachio green powdered food-coloring ! The green will then be a bit more defined. The texture will not be smooth, so you will need to homogenize it with a hand-held mixer.

2. THE SHORTBREAD:

  • Preheat the oven to 320° F in a fan-assisted oven.
  • Mix all of the ingredients with your hands and give them a sandy texture. You should end up with a mixture that looks like sand and that is homogeneous. Roll out the dough until it’s 5mm thick, and put it between two sheets of parchment paper. You must absolutely bake the shortbread on a sheet that is covered with parchment paper! Place the dough into the baking pan of your choice. Don’t forget that the baking will be done on parchment paper.
  • Bake for only 10 minutes (this is just a pre-cooking).

3. THE ALMOND CREAM:

  • Mix the almond powder, the brown sugar, the butter and the cream. Then add the eggs, but at this stage, one must not incorporate any air, so it is best to use a spatula, but by no means a whip. Otherwise, the cream will expand during the cooking.
  • Pour the cream onto the hot shortbread. It will become liquid and spread perfectly. Raise the oven to 338°F, and bake for 20 minutes.
  • With the help of a knife, delicately unstick the shortbread from the baking pan and extract it. Allow the shortbread to cool on a grill.

4. THE PREPARATION OF THE BISCUIT:

  • Put the jam in a small pan, with one tablespoon of water and bring to a boil for 30 seconds, pull it off the stove, and combine everything with a hand-held mixer.
  • With a brush, generously cover the cookie with jam without forgetting the borders. If you have a sheet of cardboard slip it gently under the shortbread. Chop the pistachios with your robot batch processor or equivalent. Pull the biscuit up with one hand (thanks to the cardboard!) and with the other cover the sides with the chopped pistachios.
  • Cut the base of the strawberries with a small knife. Arrange them so that they all have more or less the same height, and put them on the shortbread. Baste it with jam.
  • After at least 4 hours of being in the fridge, the pistachio ganache is ready to be beaten. For this you will absolutely need a whip. You can either use the ‘whip’ accessory on your electric beater (that is what I do) or you will have to whip it by hand.
    You can also whip the cream in the tub of your electric beater, but in this case it would be better to use this tub from the start and put the cream in it so that it will have rested there in a cool temperature, and can rise easily. It is better if the container that you will use to beat the ganache is nice and cold as well.
  • Pour the ganache into a bag fitted with a fluted tip 10mm wide and keep cool, except if you plan to eat the pie right away. In this case you may prepare it, the cream already has the needed consistency.

I will leave you with this little sentence from Mr Sylvain Tresson, geographer, journalist and French writer, and wish you all a very good appetite. Till very soon.

“A Cloud: A sky pastry that is somewhere between downy and molten.

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Last modified on 11/06/2018

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