This weekend, we are taking a trip to a state park and having a family picnic. We take this trip almost every summer. Someone always drives up early and picks out the same picnic tables each year. They are near a bathroom, walking distance to the lake and “beach,” and heavily shaded. It is always a really enjoyable day spent with the people we love.
Since strawberry season is in full swing in our area, I decided to make a strawberry pie as my contribution to the picnic. Strawberry pie is one of my favorite types of pie, and even though it takes a little while to make, it is so worth it!
I bought some fresh, local strawberries from a nearby farmers’ market. There is nothing like fresh picked strawberries!
I made the crust in the morning, before I even went to get the strawberries since it needed to bake and cool before I could put the filling in it.
The key to making pie crust from scratch is having very cold ingredients. I measured out 1 ¼ cups flour, a shake or two of salt, and 1 stick (½ cup) butter. I cut the butter up into small cubes and added all three ingredients to a mixing bowl.
I began adding cold water one tablespoon at a time and mixing the dough with a fork. I find it easiest when you begin mixing to squish the butter up against the side of the bowl with a fork. I used 6 tablespoons of cold water, but it can fluctuate between 5-6 tablespoons, depending on the day.
I stopped adding when the dough could be formed into a ball and was not sticky.
Here is where I strayed from the recipe a little bit. I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. I began preheating my oven to 400 degrees when I put the dough in the fridge.
I then took the dough back out of the refrigerator, and rolled it out. I have a marble rolling pin that my mom gave to me. It is very heavy, but it works so well! I sprinkled some flour onto my counter. (I just rolled the dough right on my countertop, but if you have a cutting board that you would like to use, that works just as well. I feel like my space is confined when I use a cutting board.) I sprinkled flour onto the dough, I sprinkled flour onto my hands…I had flour everywhere! But it is important to have enough flour so that your dough does not stick to anything!
Today’s dough actually rolled out really nicely. (Sometimes it does not cooperate, no matter what I do!) When I roll dough, I do one roll forward and one roll backward with the rolling pin and then change directions. I usually pick up the dough and flip it about three times throughout the rolling process. All of this is to prevent sticking.
After the dough was rolled out, I gently folded it over once, and then slid it into the pie plate. I carefully made sure the dough was all the way to the bottom of the pie plate. I did not press on the corners though, because I was afraid it would stick after it was baked.
Since there was a lot of excess dough over the edge of the pie plate, I took a butter knife and trimmed off the extra dough.
I took a fork and poked holes in the crust to prevent it from puffing up. I then took parchment paper and laid it over the crust. I poured rice into the parchment paper to hold the crust down and keep it from rising. I then put the pie plate into the oven for 27 minutes. (The recipe calls for 20-30 minutes.)
Interestingly enough, when I put the pie crust in the oven, I heard this dripping and sizzling. I thought that was strange, so I investigated. The butter was melting, and because some of the crust was out over the edge of the pie plate, it was dripping onto the bottom of my oven! Now, I am not a fan of cleaning ovens, nor catching them on fire, so I simply put a baking sheet underneath the pie plate to catch any butter drips that happened to escape.
While the crust was baking, I cleaned up my mess. Oh, what a mess! I had flour everywhere! When I was younger, I would occasionally bake an apple pie at my parents’ house. My mom would just cringe and leave the room (and sometimes even the house) because she knew how her kitchen would look afterwards. It’s nice to know that things haven’t changed, I guess. I still make a mess, but now it is my husband who is the one who does not want to be around it!
For the last seven minutes of baking, I removed the rice and parchment paper so that the crust got a little golden color to it. Once the crust was finished baking, I simply set it on the counter to cool. Let me just say that my house smelled like ooey gooey buttery goodness!
After I returned from my adventure to the farmers’ market, I began making the filling for the strawberry pie. The filling is rather simple, actually.
I cut the tops off of two cups of strawberries and rinsed them off in a strainer.
For the gelatin-like part, I mashed up 2 cups of fresh strawberries with a fork. I put them in a saucepan, and added 1 cup sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt (I just gave it a couple shakes from the salt shaker). I mixed them altogether, and when they were starting to get warm, I added 3 tablespoons corn starch.
I then brought them to a boil. The mixture is pretty thick, so it kind of sputtered strawberry juice everywhere when it was boiling. While the ingredients were boiling, I stirred them continuously with a wooden spoon. (Just a side note…I would recommend using a whisk.) I know how corn starch can make gravy lumpy, and I did not want that to happen to my strawberry filling!
Once the filling was thicker, yet still able to be poured, I removed it from the heat and let it cool for a little while.
While the filling was cooling (about 30 minutes or so, maybe a bit more) I sliced up two more cups of strawberries to layer on the bottom of the pie crust. I cut the tops off, and left the small berries whole, while I sliced the larger strawberries into halves or quarters.
There are two methods of putting strawberries in the bottom of a pie crust: neatly placing the berries and the “dump and go” method. I used a little bit of both. I placed the first layer of berries nicely on the bottom of the crust, and then dumped whatever was left over the top.
Finally, the pie filling was cool enough to pour over the fresh berries. I slowly poured the jelly mixture all over the pie. I then slid the pie plate back and forth quickly over the counter to level out the filling.
I placed the pie in the refrigerator to cool. I suggest giving it a good 8 hours, possibly even more if time allows it. This gives the strawberry filling mixture time to set properly.
So there you have it! Fresh strawberry pie! Tomorrow morning I am going to make some whipped cream (of course I will write a post about that!) and then it is going to be time to enjoy the fruits of my labor!
Do you have a favorite pie made of fresh fruit? I encourage you to try making a strawberry pie if you haven’t before. Your taste buds will thank you! Feel free to share your results!