Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer, Summer, Summertime. Time for Strawberry Pie

strawberry pie half white

Summer, summer, summertime
Time to sit back and unwind
(Will Smith)

School is out and it's a sort of a buzz
But back then I didn't really know what it was

But now I see what have of this
The way that people respond to summer madness...

Back in Philly we be out in the park
A place called the plateau is where everybody go...

And with a pen and pad I compose this rhyme
To hit you and get you equipped for the summertime

Do you ever sit and think about summers as a kid?

Summer back in Rhode Island for me was hot, muggy afternoons playing wiffel ball, sunburns at Scarborough Beach, cannonballs into our backyard pool, and nights being eaten alive by mosquitoes while playing miniature golf.

Summer was also my mom's Strawberry Pie. Like an American flag, it was part of the 4th of July every year. As a kid, I LOVED strawberries. When I discovered that my cousin Anthony was allergic to them, I thought it was the saddest thing I had ever heard (of course, I was 6, so Darfur wasn't really on my radar).

To this day, strawberry pie is one of my favorite desserts. Not just because fresh strawberries are slathered with a tangy-sweet apricot sauce, and not just because all of that lusciousness is perched atop a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pie crust.

Nope. It's because strawberry pie still reminds me of sticky summers as a kid. And my mom.

Every year, Mom's strawberry pie marked summertime in our house. It's easy to make and so delicious that kids and adults will squabble over who gets the last piece. Really. It happens every time.

I made mine with a homemade pie crust, but if you're pinched for time, a store-bought crust or graham cracker crust would work too. Eat it as is, or top it with a dollop of whipped cream, some chocolate sauce, or Jeff's favorite, mascarpone cheese. Any way you slice it, it's simply summertime scrumptious.

strawberry pie slice
Strawberry Pie with Mascarpone Cheese

Summertime Strawberry Pie
Makes one 9 inch pie
Print recipe only here.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ stick unsalted butter (very chilled)
1 large or extra large egg
1-2 tablespoons ice water, or as much as needed

1/2 cup finely chopped, ripe strawberries
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (10-ounce) jar apricot preserves (reserve 1-2 tablespoons for spreading on the baked crust)
3 pints of medium sized fresh strawberries (though you may need slightly more or less depending on the size of the berries)

Place rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Use a 9-inch pie plate (preferably glass) coated with cooking spray.

Making the crust with a processor: Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the dough becomes pebbly in texture. Add the egg and pulse repeatedly until the dough begins to stick together. Slowly add the ice water by the tablespoonful, while using a few long pulses. Add more drops of ice water, as necessary, until the dough holds together well and forms a ball. Invert the dough onto a floured work surface. Roll the dough into a circle one inch larger than your pie plate.

Making the crust by hand: In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add chunks of chilled butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles. At this point, add the egg and ice water, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form. Using your hands and working the dough as little as possible, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough holds together. Roll the dough into a circle one inch larger than your pie plate.

Fit the dough snugly inside the plate. Pinching the dough between your index finger and thumb, make a fluted edge around the crust. Prick the crust all over with the top of a fork since the crust will be blind-baked. Refrigerate the pie crust while preparing the filling (you can even refrigerate the crust overnight, which makes a super crispy crust that won't get soggy from the strawberry sauce).

To make the filling, place all filling ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.

Wash and pat dry 3 pints of fresh strawberries and cut off the tops. Cut into quarters and set aside.

For blind-baking the crust, use pie weights or cover the pie with parchment paper and fill with dried beans to prevent the crust from shrinking. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes, or until it is golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven, remove pie weights, and let cool.

Spread 1-2 tablespoons of apricot preserves on the bottom of the pie crust (this helps keeps it crispy). Pile the sliced strawberries inside the crust (3 pints is usually just right, but you may use more or less depending on the size of the berries). Pour the cooled strawberry-apricot sauce over the strawberries until well covered, leaving about 1/2 inch space between the sauce and the fluted edge.

If there is leftover sauce, then save it to spread on your morning toast or toss into a smoothie!

Have you heard? I'm hosting Sugar High Friday this month, and if you hadn't guessed it already, the theme is berries! The deadline is Sunday, August 3rd, and full details can be found here. Thanks to those of you who have already sent in berry-licious desserts!

You might also like:

Fresh Strawberry, Almond, and Coconut Muffins

Fresh Apricot and Cherry Cobbler with Buttermilk Biscuit Crust

Quick Chocolate-Cinnamon Mousse with Cherries

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sponge Pudding

I'm sending my berry red pie to Zorra of Kochtopf who is celebrating Switzerland's National Day. Want to participate? Send Zorra something red, white, or Swiss.

And if you haven't seen it yet, then check out Susan's Pancake Parade Round-Up with lots of delicious sweet and savory pancake recipes.

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