You would not believe how many strawberries I’ve eaten lately in my quest for the BEST fresh strawberry pie.
One attempt involved mashing, blending, straining and cooking fresh strawberries. Forget it!! After all that work, I didn’t like the cooked, bland flavor or the dull appearance. So I went back to my original recipe calling for sugar, cornstarch and strawberry-flavored gelatin. Tasty, but too firm and slightly rubbery.
Then I thought about my Aunt Marg. She made and served me a strawberry pie during a visit to her house in Speedway, Indiana (my home state). Although I was in high school, I still remember it. (This is the same aunt who won second place in a baking contest with her recipe for Hickory Nut Cake.)
She now lives in a retirement village, hundreds of miles away. But a quick e-mail produced the recipe. Don’t you think it’s impressive that well into her eighties, my aunt looks at and uses her computer often enough to reply to my e-mail within a couple hours? Not sure I could even FIND a recipe that fast.
Turns out Aunt Marg’s strawberry glaze recipe was exactly what I wanted.
Yes, it contains Jello. But the use of corn syrup instead of sugar makes the difference. The glaze is translucent, glossy, colorful, light, thick and sweet–the perfect foil for beautiful and tasty spring strawberries.
A regular flaky pie crust is more than acceptable. A cookie-type crust, although richer, is more memorable. I have adapted a recipe from Joy the Baker, a fabulous baker and blogger worth checking out. Her crust is a cross between a regular pie crust and a sweet tart crust. No rolling required. Besides the taste, I love the way it doesn’t stick to the pie pan when you get ready to serve it.
Speaking of the crust, be sure to let it cool before adding strawberries and filling. Although my aunt didn’t mention it in her recipe, I remember when she served her pie, she didn’t assemble it until we were ready to eat so the crust would be perfectly crisp and flaky. She broke off large pieces of the crust and laid them on individual serving plates, piling the glazed strawberries on top. Maybe not very photogenic but exceedingly edible!
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons powdered strawberry jello
- ¾ cup corn syrup
- Few drops of red food coloring, if desired
- Pre-baked 9-inch pie crust
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup frozen butter, grated (This process is much easier if you start with a whole stick so you have something to hang on to.)
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons cold milk
- Combine water, cornstarch, Jello and corn syrup in that order. Stir or whisk until dissolved. Cook until mixture boils and thickens.
- (I prefer to cook the filling in my microwave using a 2 qt-glass batter bowl. Takes 4-7 minutes on High, stirring 2-3 times.)
- Add food coloring and flavorings if using. Set aside to cool.
- Arrange 1 quart cleaned and dried strawberries in pretty pattern in pre-baked and cooled pie crust. If fruit is very large, cut in halves or quarters. I try to buy smaller berries so I don't have to cut them. They seem to last longer. Pour glaze over strawberries, taking care to cover every berry.
- Alternately, pour glaze over strawberries in large bowl. Gently mix. Pour strawberries/glaze mixture into pie crust. Although not as pretty as arranging individual strawberries, I like the way the gel holds the berries together better.
- Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Best eaten the day it's made. Serve with whipped cream.
- Whisk together first four ingredients in medium bowl.
- Add grated frozen butter and cream cheese to dry ingredients and combine with your fingers. Texture should be coarse with pieces of varying sizes like oatmeal and fine bread crumbs combined.
- Mix vegetable oil and cold milk. Pour into flour and butter mixture all at once. Use fork to mix until all flour/butter particles have been kissed by moisture. Mixture should be shaggy.
- Dump into a clean pie plate and pat out crust with your fingers as smooth as possible taking care to evenly cover pie plate and sides. It probably won't be perfect but as long as you have no holes and no terribly thick places, it will be fine. Place crust in the freezer while you preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place rolled and twisted parchment paper on top of pie crust (see picture on this post) or use beans or rice to weigh down the crust. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove weights or paper and continue to bake another 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Watch closely in last 2-3 minutes. It can go from gloriously golden to badly browned faster than you can answer the doorbell. Set aside to cool. Assemble pie according to directions in step 4 in the Glaze directions.
If you like pies, here are some more ideas: