Strawberry pie

About a year ago I found Deb’s recipe for strawberry-rhubarb pie and couldn’t wait to make it.  I had never ventured into the world of pie making before, so I was a bit apprehensive.  Since then Deb has posted a new and improved recipe, using an all butter crust, using lemon instead of cinnamon and using tapioca instead of cornstarch.  Bravo, Deb, because this is the best pie I’ve ever had!

With the weather getting a bit more springy and an invitation to have dinner with some of our lovely friends, I thought…what better dessert to bring than strawberry pie!  It’s not time for the rhubarb yet, and to be honest I can do without it, so I just upped the amount of strawberries, and voila:
Now it takes many steps and hours to get from ingredients to this, so bear with me, this is a long post!

Step 1: All butter pie dough
this is enough for 1 double batch (top & bottom) of pie crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold

Gather all of your ingredients.  Fill a liquid measuring cup with about 1 cup of water and toss in some ice cubes and set aside.  In a large bowl whisk together the four, sugar and salt.  Dice your very cold butter into approximately 1/2 inch pieces.  Cut in half length-wise, then in half length-wise again, and then cut into little squares.  Use a sharp paring knife and do this as quickly as possible so they butter does not get warm.  If it does, or if you are paranoid that is did, just toss the little cubes in a small bowl and put back in the fridge for a bit.  **You want the butter cold because it’s what makes the crust so flaky and buttery, which is a good thing.

Toss the butter cubes in with your flour mixture and use a pastry blender to work your ingredients.  If you don’t have a pastry blender, you could use a large fork (don’t use your hands, it will warm up the butter too fast) but I highly recommend getting a pastry blender like this one, which is only $10.  It’s a good tool to have.  Now back to the pie dough…work the mixture thoroughly until the butter looks like the size of tiny peas.  This will take around 2 minutes or so, don’t overwork the dough, this makes less flakey.

Now pour your ice-cold water into a 1/2 measuring cup.  Slowly drizzle the water into your mixture, use a spatula to gather the dough together.  The 1/2 cup will probably not be enough, you will most likely need another 1/4 of a cup of the water, but add it in only 1 tablespoon at a time, because you don’t want it too sticky.  So you are working in the water with the spatula, and once you see the dough clumping together, abandon the water and spatula and just get your hands in there.  Gather all the dough into one mound, gently kneading it.
dough mixing tutorial Once you have your dough in a mound, divide it into 2 equal parts, wrap in Saran wrap or something of the like and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably over night.  I suggest making the dough the day before you make the pie.
Ok, so now let’s fast forward to the following day: time roll out the dough and make the pie filling.

Step 2: Rolling out your dough:
The two keys to successfully rolling out pie dough is keeping it nice and cold and using lots of flour so nothing sticks or rips.  I just flour a large part of my countertop for rolling, mainly because I don’t have the large size Silpat roll that I want yet.

Take one of the portions of dough from the fridge, unwrap, and flour both sides.  Place on floured surface.  You will also want to flour your rolling pin, especially if its silicone like mine.  Press down lightly with the rolling pin and work from the center outwards.  Every 5 rolls or so, lift the dough and rotate a quarter turn, so all the sides are even.  When you lift and turn, make sure your surface is floured well.  When you feel any resistance on the pin, add more flour.  So now your pie is rolled out to about a 12 inch circle and is an even thickness.  Deb likes to trim hers using a pie pan as a guide and a knife.  This is a great idea, I however don’t usually take the time to do this, and I like a more rustic look, at least that’s how I validate skipping this step.

So to transfer my crust to my pie dish, I make sure nothing is sticky (and if there is, yes, you guessed it, I add more flour) and then I fold the crust in half, then in half again.  Then I pick up my triangle and place it in the dish and unfold.  Then I press gently into the pan, making sure is close to being centered.  Like this:
Set aside while you make your pie filling.

Step 3: Strawberry filling
3 pound box of strawberries, hulled and sliced if large or halved if small
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water (this is for the glaze)

Preheat oven to 400.  Stir together the strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca.  Pour into the bottom pie crust, then top with the pieces of butter.

Roll out your second half of pie dough, following the same steps as above.  Fold in the same fashion and place on top of your strawberries, as centered as possible.  Crimp your crust in any way you like…again, mine is rustic here, not too polished or fancy.  Then cut either slits or a design in the top.  Whip up your egg yolk and water, and brush all over the top surface of the pie.
Place the pie dish on a cookie sheet (for the spillage, which will indefinitely happen) and bake for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, rotate the pan in your oven and reduce the heat to 350.  Bake for another 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top and the filling is bubbling.  Now here is the really difficult part…you have to let the pie cool completely before eating it, otherwise the filling does not gel and it is very messy.  The full cooling process takes at least 6 hours.  Friday night we cut it after about 3 or 4 and it was a mess but oh so good!  We topped it with Joe’s homemade whipped cream (1 cup whipping cream, 2 tablespoons each of vanilla and powdered sugar – beat voraciously until your arm feels as if it might fall off, or just use an electric beater until fluffy, whichever floats your boat) and vanilla ice cream.  It was a the perfect end to a delicious dinner, great wine, and wonderful company – thanks to our lovely host and hostess, Joe & Amanda!

*also, thanks to the hubby for playing paparazzi and snapping photos for the tutorials!

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