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Strawberry pie

(Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe)
June 9, 2010

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Makes one 9-inch pie

This pie has always been one of my mother’s staples for dinner parties and family celebrations. It’s easy (but your guests won’t guess), and as delicious as it is beautiful. If you need a reason to celebrate, it’s the arrival of fresh local strawberries.

CRUST

1 cup flour
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening or cold lard
1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup cold water, or more if necessary
Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1. In a bowl, combine flour and shortening or lard. With a pastry blender or 2 blunt knives, work the dough until it forms crumbs. In a bowl stir together vinegar and 1/4 cup water. With a fork, work the liquids into the flour mixture until it forms a dough. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Shape it into a ball, then flatten it into a disk. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a 9-inch pie plate.

4. On a floured counter, roll the dough to an 11-inch round. Use the rolling pin to lift it up and ease it into the plate. Tuck under the overhang and crimp the edges. Prick the crust all over with a fork. Line the pastry with foil and fill with rice or beans.

5. Bake for 13 minutes. Remove the foil and rice or beans. Return to the oven for 7 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Cool completely.

FILLING

3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream, beaten to soft peaks with 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Spread the cream cheese in a thin layer on the bottom of the pie shell. Arrange half the strawberries in the cream cheese, pointed ends up.

2. In a shallow bowl with a fork, mash the remaining strawberries until all the juice is extracted. If necessary, add water to make 1 1/2 cups of juice.

3. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the juice to a boil. Gradually whisk in the sugar and cornstarch. Lower the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to boil. Boil for 1 minute; cool. Pour the syrup over the berries. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Andrea Pyenson. Adapted from Midge Effenson