Friday, June 26, 2015

Fresh Strawberry Pie

This is another recipe from one of those old Cook's Illustrated magazines I ripped apart. Fresh Strawberry Pie is from the May-June 2011 issue. Personally, I like strawberries best just plain or on top my breakfast yogurt. I've never much cared for strawberry pie even though it was always popular with my friends when we'd eat at King's or Eat'n Park. I always thought, meh, what's the big deal about wet and too sweet, somewhat gloppy berries in a pie crust and topped with whipped cream?
But after the success of our peach and apple pies, I've been wanting to try more pies. The problem is that the 2 of us can't eat an entire pie before it goes bad (or as sadly happened one year to the peach pie, shows signs of mold). Father's Day was the perfect time to make another pie. My parents would help eat it and could take home leftovers. My mom wasn't too excited about this pie. I suggested it to dad and he was on board. SP was on board because he likes fruit desserts and because the crust is the one with vodka and he's been wanting to try the vodka crust. I was willing to try this strawberry pie because it's from Cook's Illustrated and their recipes are usually excellent.
It doesn't take much time to whip up the glaze for the berries. Puree some berries then cook them with cornstarch, sugar, low sugar pectin (it's important to get the the pink box), and salt, then stir in some fresh lemon juice and let it cool. It's important to use these 2 thickeners. CI did a lot of tests with various thickeners alone and in combinations to determine which would make the tastiest pie. After it cools, add the other berries to the glaze and then arrange in the baked pie crust. 
The crust is easy to make in the food processor. The pie crusts we like best use both butter and shortening, like this one. The difference here is that the shortening is chilled. This dough was a little different to work with than the pie crust recipe we usually use from Joy of Cooking. SP said it kept wanting to spring back when he rolled it or stretched it into the pie plate. As soon as we removed the pie weights, the crust shrank down the sides as it finished baking, which was disappointing. He told me later that after making the crust, he went back and listened to an America's Test Kitchen podcast in which it was pointed out that some people don't like this pie dough for this pie because it does have a tendency to shrink and fall down the sides as it bakes. If it was a pie with lattice or a top crust to latch onto, that would help.
It does make a nice flaky, crisp, delicious crust that held up nicely to the "wet" pie filling. Even the next day, the bottom crust wasn't soggy. Of course strawberry pie needs to be topped with whipped cream. For SP, lots of whipped cream:
The strawberries were better than I expected. Not too sweet, not too moist, not bland, no yucky, gummy glaze.
We'd definitely make this again. Next time I'd use our usual pie crust recipe with this strawberry filling.

Recipe here.

1 comment:

  1. I love the ATK vodka crust recipe since the extra moisture (in the form of alcohol, which doesn't promote gluten formation) makes handling and rolling the dough out so much easier. I've actually gone even further than 50/50 vodka / water and used entirely 100 proof vodka as the sole extra (i.e., beyond the bit that's in the butter) moisture in it (and added a bit more yet to compensate for the extra alcohol that evaporates in the blind-baking phase). Instead of shortening I also use coconut oil since that's the closest type of fat I keep on-hand - no artificial crap here. :p Lastly, at some point in one of their shows or clips, they had an additional tip to prevent the shrinking / falling issue which I use, seemingly successfully since the couple times I've made it I had no problem with falling dough - freeze it for around 15 minutes before blind-baking. Apparently that gives it more of a chance to fully set while it's still clinging to the pie plate. :)