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06/25/2017

~ Seriously Simple & Sweet: Fresh All Strawberry Pie ~

IMG_0773When it comes to freshly-picked, home-grown strawberries, past eating them out-of-hand, as a strawberry dessert lover, I'm a purest at heart.  Today's recipe is a perfect example.  I'd rather bake a smaller-sized pie that's loaded with lots of strawberries, than add another ingredient to them (because I don't have enough strawberries) to fill a bigger pie dish.  Note:  I have nothing (zero) against the quintessential strawberry-rhubarb pie concoction (we grow rhubarb in our garden too), I just prefer to indulge in a slice of pie containing all of one or all of the other.  Period.

IMG_4770My memories of fresh strawberry pie consist of two distinctly different versions.  The first, which I along with almost every other kid in 1960's America loved, was super-simple and made with strawberry-flavored Jell-O (gelatin).  This was the kind that was typically available in grocery stores during strawberry season (probably because the gelatin extended the pie's shelf life).  The second, which was more scratch made, was thickened with a pantry product called Sure-Jell (powdered pectin).  This was the kind made at home or found in bakeries during strawberry season.  For lack of a better word, the second pie was less gelatinous than the first, but, both pies were good in their own right.  That said, as a discerning adult, the latter is far superior to the first.

IMG_0690Today's pie is a 6 1/2" pie.  

When I bake half-sized pies I bake them in pie dishes that measure 5" across the bottom, 6 1/2" across the top, and, are 1 3/4" deep.  To make a full-sized, standard 9" pie, simply double my pie filling recipe.

Double my pie filling recipe to make a full-sized, standard 9" pie.

IMG_0682To make a half-sized pie pastry shell, you need pie pastry, and, to make 1, 6 1/2" round shell, you need two-thirds the amount you would use to make one, 9" single-crust pie.  Use your favorite recipe or click here to get my recipe for ~ Making Pâte Brisée: Basic Pie or Quiche Pastry ~.  That said, when I'm making a half-sized shell, the perfect size to feed four people, I feel no guilt in using a store-bought crust to save time.  It bakes up golden and no ever complains.

IMG_0683Blind-bake or bake-blind, is the English term for baking a pastry shell before it is filled.  There are two instances when you need to prebake your pie pastry:  #1)  A pastry shell that, once the filling is added, does not return to the oven for further baking, and, #2)  A pastry shell that will get filled with a custard, cream, mousse or fully-cooked/ready-to-eat filling and will return to the oven for further baking. In this application, the degree to which you prebake the pastry (barely brown, lightly brown, golden brown) is determined by the length of time it will take the filled pie to finish baking, meaning:  the longer it takes the pie filling to bake, the lighter in color the prebaked crust should be when it goes into the oven, so, always follow the recipe's instructions. For more specifics, read ~ How to: Blind-Bake a Pastry Shell (Baking Blind) ~.  Today's pie pastry: has been baked in a 425° oven for 8-9 minutes and has been completely cooled on a wire rack.

My Seriously Simple & Sweet Strawberry Pie Filling:

IMG_06981  6 1/2" pie pastry, homemade or store-bought, blind-baked & cooled completely

1 1/2  pounds hulled fresh, whole strawberries

6  tablespoons sugar

1  tablespoon low-sugar Sure-Jell (powdered pectin)

1  tablespoon cornstarch

1  tablespoon lemon juice, fresh or high-quality Organic bottled lemon juice

1  tablespoon pure strawberry extract

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons water

IMG_0701~ Step 1.  Choose 10 of the prettiest, medium-sized hulled strawberries (about 4 ounces). Slice them on half and decoratively arrange them on a 6" dessert plate, or a plate roughly the size of the top of the pie dish.  Set them aside -- these are going to be the top of the pie.  Slice (the remaining) 1 pound, 4 ounces of strawberries to a thickness of 1/4" (about 4 cups sliced strawberries).

Place 2 cups of sliced berries in the work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade (to make the glaze) and set remaining 2 cups sliced berries aside (to make the filling).

IMG_0705 IMG_0708 IMG_0714 IMG_0722~Step 2.  To make the glaze,  to the 2 cups of sliced strawberries in the processor, add the sugar, powdered pectin, cornstarch, lemon juice, strawberry extract and vanilla extract.  Using a series of 10 rapid on-off pulses followed by the motor running for 30 seconds, purée the strawberries. Transfer the mixture to a 1-quart saucier or saucepan.  Over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a boil and continue to boil until glaze has thickened, about 1 full minute.

IMG_0726 IMG_0733 IMG_0734 IMG_0739 IMG_0742 IMG_0749~Step 3.  To make the pie filling, remove the glaze from the heat, transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove 3 tablespoons of glaze from the bowl and place in a small bowl or ramekin. Add the remaining 2 cups of strawberries to the medium bowl of glaze.  Using a large rubber spatula, thoroughly fold the strawberries into the glaze, to evenly coat the strawberries.  Using a tablespoon, stir the 1 1/2 tablespoons water into the 3 tablespoons remaining glaze.

IMG_0745 IMG_0754 IMG_0757~ Step 4.  Using a large spoon or spatula, spoon the pie filling into the prepared pie shell, leveling it so the strawberries remain flat.  Decoratively arrange the reserved strawberry halves over the top.  Using a pastry brush, paint the tops of the strawberry halves with the "watered down" glaze.  Refrigerate the pie, uncovered, until the glaze it set, about 2 hours, or until serving time (4-6 hours).  That said:  

This simply scrumptious pie is best served the day it's made.

IMG_0786Seriously Simple & Sweet:  Fresh All Strawberry Pie:  Recipe yields 1 half-sized pie/4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  strawberry huller (optional); cutting board; chef's knife; food processor; 1-quart saucier or saucepan; large spoon; large rubber spatula; pastry brush

IMG_5400Cook's Note:  There is a certain satisfaction in teaching people how to love food made from a misunderstood ingredient.  Rhubarb, sometimes called "the pie vegetable" is one such ingredient. The green-stalked rhubarb we grow in our garden was transplanted from my dad's garden, which was transplanted from his dad's garden. For those of you who like your rhubarb pie unadulterated, and that includes not too much sugar: ~ Pucker-Up for a Straight-Up Rhubarb Streusel Pie ~.  Give my very special recipe a try!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)

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