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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Strawberry Birthday Pie



For me, a spring birthday is best celebrated with strawberry pie. This is a longtime family favorite, but the crust is a relatively recent innovation. It's a "pat in the pan" recipe, but I have added the touch of cornstarch to make it especially tender. With oil instead of butter (or lard!), it might even be considered at least slightly less unhealthy.

Glazed Strawberry Pie

Crust
1 1/4 c flour
2 T cornstarch
1 1/2 t sugar
1/3 c oil
3 T milk
dash salt

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Stir in the oil and milk and combine until just blended--finish the mixing with your fingers, making a bowl and keeping the "agitation" of the dough to a minimum.

3. Pat the dough into a 9 inch pie pan , bringing it up on the sides and crimping as usual. Use a fork to pierce the crust in several areas to keep the crust from bubbling up.

4. Bake at 400 degrees about 12 minutes, until golden and dry looking. The oil will not brown as much as crusts made with butter, so be careful not to burn.


Strawberry Filling

1/2 c apple, peeled and finely diced
3/4 c chopped strawberries
1 c water
3/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 T lemon juice (can use bottled juice like ReaLemon)

3 to 4 c sliced or coarsely chopped strawberries

1. Cook the apple, 3/4 cup of chopped strawberries, and water until the fruit is very soft. (I use the microwave, for about 5 to 6 minutes, but this can also be done on top of the stove.) Put in a processor or blender and blend until smooth. (You may also use just a fork to mash the fruit as much as possible.)

2. Stir the sugar and cornstarch together well and then gradually add to the hot fruit mixture. Return to the microwave and cook about 3 to 4 minutes on medium power, until the mixture bubbles and is translucent. Stir several times while it heats. When the glaze is well-cooked, remove from the microwave and stir in the lemon juice.



3. Meanwhile, put the remaining strawberries in the prepared shell. As soon as the glaze mixture is well cooked, pour it over the berries. Stir slightly to be sure that the glaze coats all the berries. Chill before serving.

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Note in the photos that this is not the neon bright red color of the purchased glazes. If you want to duplicate that color, a few drops of red food color could be added to the glaze along with the lemon juice.

And why the apple in the glaze? Primarily, this is to stretch the fruity flavor in the glaze, so that I can preserve most of the strawberries for the "fresh" part of the filling. This allows making a pie with a pound of strawberries. If you wish to use only strawberries, cook about a cup and a half of strawberries with the water.

And what about appearances? Sometimes, there are lovely pictures of strawberry pies with the berries either whole or in large slices. While that may look a little prettier, cutting the berries in smaller pieces allows the glaze to more fully mix with the berries for a more even flavor, my own preference. If you want to go for the appearance, go for it! (You can also, instead, save a few really perfect looking strawberries and arrange them on top of the finished pie as a garnish.)

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