Balsamic Berry Pie with Peonies for Josh

This balsamic berry pie is a whole-grain, gluten-free ode to one of my favorite flowers: the delicately fleeting and fragrant peony.

Balsamic Berry Pie with a whole-grain Peony-Inspired Crust //

The Food: Balsamic Berry Pie with a Gluten-Free Buckwheat Crust

Thanks to the genius “Fraisage” method carefully outlined in the cookbook, Alternative Baker, this whole-grain, gluten-free balsamic berry pie is wholesome while still remaining flaky, and indulgent. The recipe instructions may look intimidating, but there’s a lot of downtime between rolling and chilling the dough, so it’s more so a matter of time management than labor.

I created the peony-inspired crust freehand using a paring knife. You can draw freely, use a cookie-cutter, or simply top the pie with an entire crust.

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Flour Pie Crust //

The Food: Gluten-Free Whole Grains

It’s time to do more with buckwheat than pancakes! This balsamic berry pie includes buckwheat and gluten-free oat flours.

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Flour Pie Crust //

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Flour Pie Crust with Balsamic Berries //

The Personal: Pie, Synchronicity & Self-Love

After a rather difficult few weeks, I realized I needed to return to the work and practice of self-love. My practice takes the form of journaling, conversations with support systems, reading books on the topic, listening to podcasts from experts in the healing space, as well as therapy rooted in self-love.

I’ve simultaneously been inspired by pie, by combining my love of drawing and baking in freeform pie crusts. I’ve found freedom in the fraisage method of folding butter into whole grains. I’ve found mindfulness in carving pie crust into delicate, fleeting flowers. And of course, there’s no reward quite like flaky pie crust, warm summer berries, and a scoop of ice cream.

Peony Pie //

So when I read this passage in Najwah Zebian’s book, Welcome Home, the synchronicity of it all struck me. I’m a believer in synchronicity, in the connectedness of life and moments. I believe these overlaps and details are meant to speak to us, to prod us on our path toward healing.

“…once we stop evaluating the worth of our love by who receives it, or whether it’s received at all, or the type of reaction we get as a result of giving it, that’s when we can see the worth of our love on our own. In our own [metaphorical] home. Not through the lens that someone else, in their own home, is judging it with.

If you made a pie and took it to your neighbor’s home, and they said to you, ‘Thank you, but we actually don’t eat dessert,’ would you sit at their doorstep waiting for them to change their mind and eat in in order for you to feel like the pie had value? The only time you’d actually linger in front of that neighbor’s door is when you have no home to return to. But when you do have your own home, you’ll be able to go back to it and eat the pie yourself. Or serve it to someone else who actually likes pies.

Don’t equate your worth with whether the pie is eaten or who eats it.

Balsamic Berry Pie //

… If you truly and genuinely accept yourself, then that includes the love within you. And if you accept that love, then you don’t define its value by who takes it or what they give you in return for it. And you wouldn’t feel so desperate to give it just to feel it has value. Doing that means you’re defining your value only by what you do, not by who you are.

Balsamic Berry Pie //

Before you give love to
someone in any form, ask
yourself, Is my intention
to truly love this person?
Or is it to receive
validation that my love is 
worth it?
– Najwa Zebian

Balsamic Berry Pie //

Balsamic Berry Pie //

Pie Art // www.

Pie Art // www.

Pie Art // www.

Pie Art // www.

Pie Art // www.

Balsamic Berry Pie with Peonies for Josh

This pie was in fact for someone else, a sweet conclusion for a birthday celebration. There was an intention to spread love, to celebrate the beauty that Josh adds to this world, to celebrate the fact that he exists and is an important part of my life.

Birthday Dinner //

To Josh,

May this year bring as much beauty as your garden, as much bright, pure playful energy as your dancing, and unforeseen adventures. May there be surprises, comfort, and growth. May we find more ways to dive deep and support each other. May we find more excuses to appreciate flowers and share pies. 



Mediterranean Night //

Mediterranean Night //

Birthday Dinner //

Special thanks to my friend Marlene who always adds so much sparkle to everything she touches, including my mantle. 🙂

Birthday Dinner //

Birthday Dinner //

Birthday Pie //

The Mint ‘n Maple Corner:

It’s just Maple this time around, but she offers another invitation to stop and appreciate the summer blooms.

Maple in the Garden //

Balsamic Berry Pie with a Buckwheat Crust (Whole Grain & Gluten-Free)

This recipe yields enough pie crust for a 9-inch pie with a full top crust, or a 10-12 -inch pie with a decorative top crust. Pie shown is an 11-inch pan.
Course: Dessert
Keyword: gluten-free, whole grain


For the Crust

  • 1 cup (160 g) white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) GF oat flour
  • ¾ cup (90 g) buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) cornstarch
  • ¼ cup (26 g) tapioca starch/flour
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp (30 g) finely ground chia seeds (I grind mine in a Magic Bullet)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 16 Tbsp 2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, chilled
  • 1 cup ice water

For the Filling:

  • 7 cups (1.3 kg) fresh blueberries & strawberries (hulled & chopped)
  • 1/2 cup (77 g) coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup (113 g) honey
  • 1/4 cup (28 g) cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper


  • Egg wash or cream/milk


Make the Dough:

  • In a large bowl, combine the rice, oat, buckwheat flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour, ground chia seed, and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the top. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles gravel, with lots of butter chunks the size of large peas.
  • Drizzle the apple cider vinegar over the flour mixture, then drizzle the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing the dough with a rubber spatula to moisten evenly. Add just enough water for the dough to hold together when you give it a squeeze, and add it directly to the dry floury bits that like to hang out on the bottom of the bowl; you may need up to 8 tablespoons of water, total.

Use the “fraisage method” to form the dough:

  • Dump the dough onto the counter. Grab a handful of dough, place it on the counter, put the heel of your hand on the dough, and push it away from you, scraping it across the surface several inches. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough off the counter and place it back in the bowl. Repeat with the remaining dough. It should only take a minute or two to complete this process.
  • Gather all of the dough, then divide into two equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Wrap each loosely in plastic wrap or a beeswax wrap, and flatten it into a disc shape. Chill the dough until firm, 30-60 minutes.
  • Note: If your dough has chilled for a while and cracks when you go to roll it, let it warm up a bit; this will make it easier to work with.

Roll the Dough:

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball of chilled dough into a rough square that is about 1/4" thick. Fold it in thirds like you're folding a letter, then in thirds again, so the dough is a small, layered rectangle. Gently press to flatten it slightly, and chill for another 30 minutes.

Shape the Dough:

  • Remove one dough ball from the fridge, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a circle. You want the diameter of the circle to be about 2 inches bigger than the diameter of your pie plate. Dust the dough lightly with oat flour flour as needed, rotating and flipping it to prevent it from sticking.
  • Ease the dough into a glass pie plate, fit it into the corners, and trim the overhang. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with the tines of a fork. Chill the crust for 20 minutes, then freeze it for at least 20 minutes, until solid.

Prepare the Filling:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and stir until cornstarch dissolves.

To Assemble:

  • Transfer the filling to the pie, and keep chilled while you design your top crust. Alternatively, you can roll the dough similar to the base, and cover the pie completely. When adhering top crust to the edges, you can use an egg wash, heavy cream or milk to help the dough adhere. Chill the completed pie while the oven preheats.

To Bake:

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake pie on a baking sheet for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F, and continue to bake for 40-50 minutes more, until the crust is golden and the berry filling bubbles in the center. If the crust starts to brown too quickly, cover the pie with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning.
  • Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack; cool 1 hour before serving.


The pie crust in this recipe is adapted slightly from the cookbook, Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin. She is also the blogger behind The Bojon Gourmet

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