What’s Better Than Strawberry Ice Cream? Fresh Strawberry Pie!
I love the summer, I don’t mind the heat….I would much rather sweat profusely than have to wear multiple layers and bundle up every time I go outside. Not to mention waiting for the car to warm up while I’m scraping off the layer of ice that accumulated overnight….all to head into the office for the day.
Plus, the summer months bring an abundance of amazing fruit and vegetables that don’t hang around for long. They are always the best of the year, juicy and thirst quenching. I think of strawberries and peaches all winter long dreaming about their natural sweetness and juicy flesh. I see these in the grocery store in the winter and know that I would be sorely disappointed if I took them home.
And so I wait…..and wait…..and wait…..for strawberry season.
Last weekend, I headed to Lancaster County, PA (Amish Country) where the roadside stands were bursting with fresh strawberries, rhubarb, spring onions, lettuce and many more mouth-watering, fresh from the garden goodies! I picked up four quarts of gorgeous strawberries that were literally picked minutes before I paid. In fact, they only had one quart at the stand but the woman ran out to the field to get more for me since her husband was already picking them. How’s that for service!!!
The strawberries were solely intended for a fresh strawberry pie. And what a pie I made! Flaky, buttery crust with a thin layer of slightly sweetened cream cheese and piled high with farm fresh strawberries. My husband has been out-of-town so I took the pie to the office the next day and was a pie pusher…..I only wanted a slice and needed to evict the pie from my home or I’d eat the whole thing myself. It’s bad enough I was eating the leftover cream cheese mixture with a spoon after dipping it into the remnants of the glaze while watching America’s Got Talent. (Whatcha Gonna Do? Whatcha Gonna Do?) I don’t feel guilty about it at all.
Like I mentioned, you will not need the whole batch of cream cheese for one pie. In fact, you could probably stretch it for two pies if you are very stingy with it. It’s meant to add another layer of flavor in addition to keeping the crust from getting soggy. I recommend piling on as much as you can and eating the remainder with a spoon. This is the best method for ensuring nothing goes to waste.
The pie dough will make enough for two pies. You can make two pies immediately or freeze the “disk” for another time. I’ll be making another pie for the holiday weekend…..and hopefully not eating it myself.
You must make this pie….you absolutely must!
Fresh Strawberry Pie
For the Pie Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
1/4 cup ice water
For the Cream Cheese Layer:
8 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar
For the Strawberry Filling:
4 pints (approx. 3 pounds) fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried and hulled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons Knox Gelatin or Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes
Pinch of salt
Juice from half a large lemon
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, then add the butter . Toss to coat the butter with flour. Using a pastry blender (or your hands) work the butter into the flour until the pieces of butter are no larger than a pea. Drizzle with ice water and mix the dough with a fork until it holds together when pinched with your fingers. Kneed the dough until it is completely smooth and the butter is incorporated.
Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a 1 inch thick disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours (if you intend to use it later than that you can freeze and thaw in the refrigerator.)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Remove the dough and let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes. Lightly flour the work surface and dust the top of the disk with flour. Roll out to a 13-14 inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Roll the dough around the rolling-pin lightly and transfer to a 9-10 inch pie plate easing the dough into the corners and up the sides. Trim overhang to 1/2 and inch of the lip of the plate and flute the dough around the circumference of the plate. Refrigerate for approximately 15 minutes or until firm.
Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator and use a fork to prick the bottom of the dough, line the crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove foil and weights and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until thoroughly combined. Spread a thin layer on the bottom and sides of the crust. Chill for 10 minutes.
Pick approximately 6 ounces of unattractive or underripe berries. In a food processor, process the berries until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Whisk the sugar, flour (cornstarch), gelatin, salt and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Mix in the berry puree. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula and bring to a boil. Continue boiling while scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent scorching for 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and bring to room temperature.
Pick over the remaining berries and halve the extra-large berries if necessary. Add the berries to the bowl with the glaze and fold gently with a rubber spatula until evenly coated. Spoon the berries into the pie shell being sure to turn any cut sides that are facing up on the top to face down. Rearrange the berries to fill any holes. Refrigerate the pie for approximately two hours.
(Then hide in a closet with the pie and a fork….you’re not going to want to share this with anyone!)