I have been in the mood to make pie, and this fresh strawberry pie was my third this weekend.
The first was a rhubarb custard pie, from a recipe of my friend Helen’s mother. I have such fond memories of sitting at Helen’s house in Ohio eating that pie, and as a birthday present for me this year, she shared the recipe. I’m eager to make it again, at which point I may be able to post it.
The second was a semi-reciped-semi-improvised pie with a filling of raspberry, nectarines, and plums. It did not turn out quite as well as I might have hoped, mostly because the crust got burned early in the baking process.
And finally, this afternoon I made this fresh strawberry pie with a graham cracker crust. I’m planning to bring it to my brother’s house for a dinner party tonight, which I am excited about because my brother is a very good cook.
The offer to bring pie was made while slightly drunk, while the pie itself was made while slightly hungover (inexplicably) — but it was ultimately pretty simple to make, and now it exists and I’ll get to eat it, so win-win.
Recipe for the graham-cracker pie crust (from Joy of Cooking):
Crush up 9 graham crackers (I did this by banging the bag containing the 9 graham crackers with a rolling pin for a while until they were mostly crumbled, then opening and emptying the bag and mushing it with my hands) and mix in 6 Tbsp. melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Put the mixture in a pie pan and try to convince it to cover both the bottom of the pan and the sides. I did this with the help of a water glass to get an even surface. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.
Recipe for the pie (also from Joy of Cooking*):
Wash and hull about 6 cups of strawberries: 2 cups should be basically intact attractive smallish strawberries for the top layer; 2 cups should be in thick slices for the bottom layer; and 2 cups (the most mediocre) should be pureed in a food processor. Then, in a medium saucepan, stir together 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 1/8 tsp salt. Once the cornstarch is well-dispersed in the sugar, add 1/2 cup water, the pureed berries, 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (the 2 Tbsp you didn’t use for the crust!). Put the mixture on the stove over medium high heat and cook for a minute — it will thicken up substantially.
Now the fun part: layer the thick sliced strawberries over the crust. Pour a bunch of the hot berry mixture over them to make a uniform layer. Then make a second layer with your most attractive strawberries, and add more hot berry mixture as desired. (I just put it over part of the top layer, but you could add another complete coat.)
Recipe for yogurt topping:
Mix together 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract; and 1/4 tsp almond extract. Serve with slice of pie.
One nice outcome of all this pie-making was left-over ingredients — I had a bunch of pastry dough leftover from the rhubarb pie. So I rolled out the pastry dough, cut some circles, put those circles into muffin tin openings, and cooked them until they browned. Then I pulled them out, filled them with leftover strawberry mixture, and topped with strawberries. They wound up being rather unpolished and messy in appearance (rustic!) but I am excited to eat them.
* My friend Yin dreamed of producing a book called Joy of Eating which would be pictures of him eating every recipe in Joy of Cooking. I hope one day he achieves that dream…