Summer on a Spoon: How to Make Strawberry Pie
Strawberries make delicious pie fillings, especially when served with fresh whipped cream on top!
A strawberry pie is actually one of the easiest fruit pies to make, provided you keep a few key pointers in mind.
About the Dough
You can make strawberry pie with a single or double crust -- as an open-faced pie or a covered pie.
There is a super easy option here -- pre-made pie crust purchased at a store, such as Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. Quick, delish and ready when you are. But if you're not going that route, you'll presumably be making it yourself. Making pie crust is an art and a science that takes time to master, so don't be frustrated if you don't get it right away.
One of the keys is to keep the dough cold when working it. Why? One of the primary ingredients in pie crust dough is butter or margarine, and in order to work this into a disk wide and flat enough to fit into a pie pan, it can't melt down and get too soft and sticky. So, it’s best to refrigerate it before shaping it, then refrigerate it again until you’re ready to add the filling.
Variations on the standard pie crust made with all-purpose flour are those made with crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers. Those crusts work well for custard or pudding pies, as well as some fruit pie recipes, like strawberry cream.
About the Sugar
Don't make the mistake of thinking that the strawberries are sweet enough and don't need any sugar added. Sugar serves an important purpose even for the sweetest strawberries, helping to soften and balance out the inherent tartness in the fruit. It also helps those strawberries get nice and juicy to make the tastiest pie!
About the Seeds
One of the problems with using fruits like strawberries in cooking is that they have lots of little seeds. Leaving those seeds in the cooked pie glaze for the filling will make it come out with a gritty, crunchy texture — a mouthful of seeds in every bite. To avoid this, cook and mash the strawberries, then strain them through a sieve. Then you can thicken this freshly strained strawberry juice with a bit of cornstarch and add sugar and the remaining ingredients called for in your recipe.
Of course, strawberry pie glaze is available ready-made at the store if you need a quick and easy option! Check the produce section near the strawberries during strawberry season, or in the baking aisle during other seasons of the year. Pour this mixture over a single layer of fresh whole strawberries in the crust. The glaze will serve to bind your fresh strawberries together and add a beautiful finished look to your pie.
About the Color
Presentation is half the battle, and in the case of strawberry pie, this means the filling should be a deep, rich red. The problem is, that fire engine red of raw strawberries disappears when you cook them. To retain that coloring as much as possible, add a little lemon juice to the glaze mix.
The biggest question about baking a strawberry pie is whether to bake the pie crust alone and add the strawberry filling afterward, or to bake the two together. The answer is that it depends on whether you want to serve a warm or cold pie.
For a warm fruit pie, bake in the strawberry mixture with the crust, while for a cold fruit pie bake the crust first and then, after the crust cools, add the cooled strawberry filling mixture and chill the whole pie in the fridge until serving. Typically, I make a cold strawberry pie, as it is the freshest tasting and keeps those luscious berries ruby red and vine fresh.
Warm or cold, single or double crust, a strawberry pie is a sweet way to celebrate the bounty of summer, any time of year.