Monday, March 23, 2015

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Spring is in full swing here - with some days so blazing hot it feels like summer.  Thanks to that, my allergies are also on full throttle with all the blooming plants everywhere.  Though we are still getting the occasional chilly day here and there, the weather otherwise has been going to the mid 70s and up, bringing with it the first batches of beautiful ripe strawberries for the season.

Even though there are at least 6 other vendors selling strawberries at different stands throughout the farmers market we go to, one vendor consistently has the longest line for their berries - often to the annoyance of their neighbors since the line blocks their stalls.

Since we bought quite a few strawberries, I wanted to try my hand at a fresh strawberry pie - especially since I failed to make a pie last week for Pi Day.  I grew up eating mostly Chinese and Japanese food, but my mom would occasionally buy American food as a treat for us - usually in the form of Western-style desserts or fast food and frozen food when she didn't feel like cooking.   My hands down favorite was when it was strawberry season and she would buy a fresh strawberry pie on sale for $5 from the Marie Callender's restaurant near our house.  Piled high with strawberries that glistened like jewels, and topped with whipped cream, those pies never lasted more than a day in our house.

I tried a few times in my early 20s to bake pies...but they always ended up completely and utterly DISGUSTING.  Uncooked gummy dough.  Dull and tasteless fruit.  Tons of wasted ingredients.  It was enough to turn me off trying to bake pies from scratch for nearly 10 years!

I finally got up the courage to try again after coming across this recipe for a sourdough pâte brisée from the Bojon Gourmet while chatting with a friend and wondering if there was such a thing as a sourdough pie crust.  Who knew? :)  Being older and wiser (and with a bit more means than a recent college grad), I now had proper baking tools at my disposal, including an investment into a nice ceramic pie plate from Emile Henry for this new attempt at pie-making.  It also helped to watch YouTube videos on how to fraisage dough. (^_−)☆ 

Much to my surprise, the blueberry-apple pie I made using the recipe from the Bojon Gourmet was an edible success!  As was my attempt at a banoffee pie a few weeks later!  All of which led to today's attempt to do a fresh strawberry pie and recreate my childhood tastebud memories. The result?  My tastebuds (and tummy) were pretty darn happy. (⌒▽⌒)

Recipe: Fresh Strawberry Pie 

Pie Crust: 

You can use any of your favorite flaky pie crust recipe - I used the sourdough pâte brisée recipe from Bojon Gourmet because I, again, had a lot of starter in my fridge (since this is a single-crust pie, I just froze the second disc of dough for later use).

One of my biggest problems in the past has always been rolling out the dough and then transferring it to the pie plate successfully.  And voilà!  Google search and this Epicurious video to the rescue!  I also use a pastry scraper to help nudge/lift the dough onto the rolling pin when my dough sticks to the board after rolling it out.

After you roll out and transfer the crust, cover it with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (or beans or rice) and blind bake the crust until it is golden brown and completely cooked.  Use the directions for your own pie crust - for me, I like to brush the edges and sides not touching the weights with heavy cream or whole milk, and preheated the oven to 500 degrees, then turning it down to 425 after putting the pie in the oven and baked for about 20 minutes.  When I removed the parchment and weights (I used rice), the bottom was still a bit raw.  I personally didn't care if the crust puffed up a bit so I brushed the bottom with some heavy cream after removing the parchment and rice and put it back in uncovered, for another 10 minutes at 350 degrees to finish.  After it's done baking, let it cool completely.

Pie Filling:

- 3-4 pints/baskets of ripe fresh strawberries (about 6-7 cups), washed and hulled
- 3/4 cup sugar (more if your strawberries are on the tart side)
- 3 tb corn starch
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream + 1 1/2 tb powdered sugar

While the pie crust is baking, make the filling.  Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and water in a small pot and stir until everything is dissolved and lump free.  Chop and mash about 1 cup worth of strawberries and add it to the pot.  Cook over low/medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens.  Remove from heat and let it cool for at least 30 minutes.

Arrange remaining strawberries onto the cooled pie crust - I chopped some of the larger ones but kept the smaller berries whole.  Pile it high!  Pour the cooled strawberry sauce all over the fresh strawberries and chill in the fridge for a few hours to set.

When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar - you can use a hand whisk or a mixer with a whisk attachment.  My favorite quick way when I'm whipping a smaller amount like this is to use my immersion blender as it takes only 10-15 seconds.  Spoon a dollop with each slice and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Looks awesome!! Strawberry pies were my favorite growing up too!