Baker’s Delight: Strawberry Pie

I love fresh strawberry pie. It makes me think of my mom, as I associate it with her late April birthday. I used local strawberries to make this lightly sweetened pie. I wasn’t in the mood to work on a pie crust, so I just made a coconut crust (shredded coconut and melted butter), but really, I’d recommend going to the trouble of a regular pie crust. Strawberry pie doesn’t keep fabulously well, so you’ll want to eat it within a couple days.

I have this lovely cookbook devoted solely to pies! I found this recipe in there–fresh berries are mixed in with mashed and lightly cooked berries. It’s super easy, delicious, and isn’t the deep red color of this gorgeous?

(from Pie Pie Pie by John Phillip Carroll)
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Prepare  your basic pie crust recipe for a 9-inch pie shell

1 3/4 to 2 pounds fresh strawberries, 6-8 cups, depending on berry size
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Whipped Cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Roll out the dough and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim and flute the edges, then bake the pie shell fully. Cool completely before filling.

Dump the berries into a colander and rinse them. Drain well, shaking to remove excess water, then remove the stems. Pick out about 1 cup of whole berries and reserve for garnish. Cut half of the remaining berries into thick slices (or leave them whole if they are small) and set aside.

Put the remaining whole berries in a medium saucepan and crush them with a potato masher. Add the cornstarch, sugar, and salt and stir until the cornstarch has dissolved completely. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens. Reduce the heat and cook gently for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, then cool for 20-30 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times, until just faintly warm.

Stir in the sliced strawberries. Pour the mixture into the pie shell, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, until the filling is softly set.

Before serving, prepare the whipped cream and spread it over the pie. Garnish with the whole berries.

Cook’s Note: If you want to make this gluten-free, just make a gluten-free pie crust. The pie filling is naturally gluten-free.

Additional Note: The photo above is far from my most stellar effort, but alas it was the best I could get. The coconut crust didn’t cut well, so creating a pie-shaped piece wasn’t all that easy. But, it was tasty!

Summer Recipes: Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

I love making ice cream with my counter-top Cuisinart ice cream maker. This weekend at the farmer’s market I bought lots of freshly picked local strawberries. Not only do we like to eat them, but I wanted to make fresh strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, and strawberry ice cream while the berries are still in season. The two of us can’t possibly eat all that dessert, but it’s so rare that I get to enjoy fresh strawberry desserts!

Today I tackled the ice cream on my list. I used a recipe from the Williams-Sonoma ice cream book. It’s not super sweet, but it’s light, fresh and delicious.

(from Williams-Sonoma Collection: Ice Cream)
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2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and coarsely chopped

In a bowl, combine the cream and milk. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until the sugar begins to dissolve. Stir in the vanilla. Set aside, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to blend, about 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate the mixture until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

In another bowl, using a fork or potato masher, mash half of the chopped strawberries; they should break down into small chunks. Add the remaining coarsely chopped strawberries to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate the strawberries for about 1 hour.

Pour the milk mixture into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When nearly frozen and the consistency of thick whipped cream, add the strawberries. Churn or stir until just blended. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving.