Fresh Strawberry Pie

Fresh Strawberry Pie

June in Ohio is all about the fresh strawberries. Berries can be found at local farm markets and at pick your own farms.  Because of heavy rains this year, the berry season is expected to be short. All the more reason to go out and get some now.

When I was a kid there was a local restaurant known for its fresh strawberry pie. It became a favorite of mine back then, and strawberry pie is still a favorite. This pie is always a big hit. It wouldn’t be June if I didn’t make at least one. A nice benefit, over most other pies, is that only the crust has to be baked- that takes just a few minutes- so you don’t need the oven on for very long and the house stays cooler. I used a homemade crust that really works for this particular pie. Directions for blind baking (pre-baking) the crust are included below, along with the recipe for the crust I used.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 (9-inch) pie crust, baked and cooled -recipe follows*
1 qt strawberries (1¼ lbs), hulled
1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
¼ c. water
1 T. butter
4 oz. cream cheese
Whipped cream, optional

Select about 25-30 berries to be placed in pie crust, large side down and set aside. Puree or crush remaining berries. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch with water and stir until smooth. Add to the strawberry mixture and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and gets clear. Simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Set aside. Place cream cheese in a small bowl and mash with about a tablespoonful of the puree. Spread on the crust and arrange the reserved berries on the crust pointy side up. Put the largest berry in the middle and arrange the rest around it decoratively. Spoon the puree over the berries and allow the pie to cool down a little before putting in the fridge. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Note: other berries can also be used including raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, or a combination. This recipe can also be used as a filling for tarts and tartlets.

*What is blind baking?
Some recipes call for pre-baking the crust. Sometimes this is because the filling is either un-baked, like a fresh strawberry pie or very moist, like custard pie. Blind baking is placing foil on an un-baked crust and then weighing it down. Then the crust is baked either a little, or until done depending on what the recipe calls for. The weights, often dry beans or rice keep the crust from getting air bubbles in it when it bakes. >^..^<
How to blind bake (pre-bake) a pie crust
The prepared pie crust should be pricked all over with a fork. Cover the surface with foil and then pie weights. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees. For a crust that is only being partially baked allow 15-20 minutes, but remove before the outer edges get brown. If the crust is to be fully baked remove it after 15-20 minutes. Remove weights and foil and return crust to oven for an additional 20 minutes, but watch carefully so it doesn’t over-brown.

Half and Half Dough**

This is a great crust for liquid fillings like custard type pies and fresh fruit pies.
¼ c. butter, room temp
½ c. shortening, room temp- you can use lard or chilled coconut oil instead
¼ c. sugar
½ t. salt
2½ c. pastry or all purpose flour
1/8 t. baking powder
¼ c. milk
1 t. lemon juice
Cream together the first 4 ingredients until smooth. Mix together the flour and baking powder. Set aside. Combine milk with the juice and set aside. Stir ½ c. of the flour into butter mixture. Stir until smooth. Add a little of the milk, stirring until smooth. Add remaining ingredients alternately until finished. Dough will firm up once chilled. Chill at least 4 hours before using. Makes 2 crusts.

** this recipe makes 2 crusts- which makes me think you should just make 2 pies. If you don’t want to do that- the other half of the dough will freeze well for a few months. Seriously though, just make 2 pies!!!