Fresh Strawberry Pie

So here is another recipe handed down from Catherine the Great.  No, not the Empress of Russia, but my maternal grandmother--one of my first cooking influences, and for whom I am named.

I make this pie at least once a year.  I can't keep myself from it as soon as I see quarts of local strawberries showing up on the tables at the farmers' markets.  It is simple as pie (pun intended).  A great buttery crust, plump, fresh, raw strawberries, and a quick jammy glaze.  Fruit and high quality carbs:  two tastes that should always go together.  It is reminiscent of toast and jam, strawberry short cake, or dare I say...pop tart?

Since the ingredients are so sparse, the quality of the products you use is paramount.  Make a wonderful, flaky, homemade pie crust, use a golden farm-fresh egg and great butter, and above all, use amazing strawberries at the height of their season.  It just won't be that great otherwise.  Also, because the strawberry flavor can vary a lot from sour to sweet, start slowly with the sugar and the lemon juice in the glaze, and adjust as necessary depending on the flavor of the strawberries you are using.

This is outstanding on its own, even cold and soggy for breakfast the next morning.  But you can certainly doll it up with some whipped cream, creme anglaise, or vanilla ice cream.  If you happen to have Ingrid Michaelson's The Hat playing in the background as you are making it, I found it to be a more than suitable underscoring.


1 nine inch pie crust

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar, perhaps less if the fruit is exceptionally sweet
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon lemon juice, perhaps more if the fruit is exceptionally sweet

Heat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Blind Bake the Pie Crust:
Roll out pie crust and transfer to a nine inch pie plate or tart ring.  "Dock the crust" by gently poking shallow holes all over the floor of the crust with a fork.  Alternatively, instead of docking, place a layer of parchment paper on the inside of the chilled crust and fill the floor of the crust, on top of the parchment, with pie weights or dried beans.  These two methods prevent the crust from buckling up while baking in the absence of a filling in the crust to hold it down.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Carefully remove the parchment and pie weights if using, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and cooked through.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Finely dice one cup of the washed strawberries, and set aside.  Leave the remaining strawberries whole.

In a sauce pan simmer the cup of diced strawberries with 3/4 cup of water, gently, for 3-4 minutes.  Add cornstarch and sugar, and carefully whisk to dissolve.  Simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture turns from cloudy to more clear.  Add lemon juice to taste and remove from heat.  Allow to cool slightly.

Spread a small amount of the strawberry glaze over the floor of the pie crust.  Refrigerate for five minutes to set.  Arrange whole strawberries, tips up, to cover the entire pie.  You may have to cut a few in half to make a tight fit.  Pour remaining glaze over fresh berries.  Refrigerate, and serve within a few hours.

Note:  Pie crust may be made up to two days in advance, and kept in an airtight container, after it has cooled completely.  It will be extremely fragile however.  Glaze can be made two days in advance, kept refrigerated, and reheated slightly to make it more pourable.

One response to “Fresh Strawberry Pie”

  1. Penny Wolf says:

    You can do the same with peaches and it is divine!

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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