Fresh Strawberry Pie
My mom came to visit me this weekend. She brought one of her very best friends (with whom I’ll be staying when I’m at BlogHerFood in Atlanta next month! If you are going, leave a comment so we can get together!). She also brought some freshly picked strawberries that she and Zoe had harvested out of the dirt that very day. A huge, whopping basket of them! They were all beautiful. My mom wanted to feed them to my new pets.
And although I’m sure Lucy and Cinco would have adored them, I had other plans in mind. Like strawberry pie.
When this recipe asked me to pick 6 ounces of malformed or unripened berries to make the strawberry puree for the pie I had loads of trouble (and guilt about choosing such pretty specimens to be pulverized).
I sort of closed my eyes and weighed out 6 ounces and moved on with the recipe. And I’m so glad I did. This is the best strawberry pie I’ve ever had. It has just the right amount of strawberry jelly to hold the pie together. The whole berries let the strawberry itself be the star. I recommend only using freshly picked, organic, beautiful strawberries here. Sub par berries will yield a sub par pie.
Fresh Strawberry Pie (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, May/June 2011)
For the filling:
4 pints (about 3 lbs.) fresh strawberries, gently rinsed and dried, hulled*
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1½ tsp. Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes**
Generous pinch table salt
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 baked 9-inch pie shell
For the whipped cream:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar
*This is 10 more ounces of berries than will be used in the pie, to account for any imperfect strawberries.
**Be sure to use Sure-Jell for low- or no-sugar recipes (pink box) and not regular Sure-Jell (yellow box), otherwise the glaze will not set properly.
To make the filling, select 6 oz. misshapen, underripe or otherwise unattractive berries, halving those that are large, about 1½ cups. In the food processor, process the berries to a smooth puree. You should have about ¾ cup puree.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell and salt. Whisk to combine. Stir in the berry puree. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a full boil. Boil for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan constantly. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, pick over the remaining berries and measure out 1 pound, 12 ounces of the most attractive ones; halve only extra-large berries. Add the berries to the bowl with the glaze and fold gently with a spatula until the berries are evenly coated. Scoop the berries into the pie shell, piling into a mound. If any cut sides face up on the top, turn them face down. Refrigerate the pie until chilled, about 2 hours. Serve within 5 hours of chilling.
Make the whipped cream just before serving. Whip the cream and sugar on medium speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed and continue beating until medium peaks form. Cut the pie into wedges and serve with whipped cream.