Wow. Today is my 2nd blogiversary, and I cannot believe that it's already been two years. It all started with this post about snickerdoodles. You'll have to excuse my picture, but at least the recipe is good. Snickerdoodles will always be a classic =)
Blogging is definitely an interesting experience as you get your first comments and start to get your first followers. I've come to really enjoy the company of the blogging community and because of this blog and many of you, I've tackled many new things in the kitchen over the last couple years including making meringue, bread dough, homemade caramels, and even the pie crust for this celebratory strawberry pie.
In choosing the recipe for my 2nd blogiversary, I wanted to make something a little bit more special than my typical range of desserts. We had a surplus of strawberries around because someone here may have gone to the market straight (hungry) from the gym, and when the new issue of Cook's Illustrated showed up last week, it was fate. Pie is not a typical occurrence in our house, so strawberry pie it was. Bonus points because it would allow me to give pie crust another shot. This was my 3rd attempt at pie crust with my 3rd recipe, and I think I finally have one that I agree with enough to give it a second try. The crust in the final pie was the perfect combination between flaky and falling apart. Despite that, my experience wasn't perfect, but I think my struggles were more user inexperience than anything with the recipe.
Speaking of the recipe, I really wish I could share a slice of this with all of you! The combination of the berry puree with the fresh berries burst with flavor that just screams summer. While we really enjoyed the crust and filling, I wasn't quite sold on the simplicity whipped cream topping. It needed a little bit more flavor, and next time, I would definitely add some vanilla extract to give it a boost. So if you're craving some strawberries, head to the kitchen and try this out. Buy some strawberries if you need to. After buying a flat, I have some recipes coming in the next week for you!
Fresh Strawberry Pie
From Cook's Illustrated May/June 2011
1-1/4 cups (6.25 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
2 Tbsp. vodka, cold
2 Tbsp. water, cold
4 pints (about 3 lbs) fresh strawberries, gently rinsed and dried, hulled
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1-1/2 tsp. Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes (pink box)
generous pinch table salt
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (my addition)
Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar together in a food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into a medium bowl.
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, easy dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into pie bottom with other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond the lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with the edge of the pie plate. Flute dough or press tines of a fork against dough to flatten against the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights, dry rice or beans, or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, rotate pie plate and bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. Let cool to room temperature.
For the filling, select 6 ounces mishapen, underripe, or otherwise unattractive berries, halving those that are large; you should have about 1-1/2 cups. In a food processor, process berries to smooth puree, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed. You should have about 3/4 cup puree.
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Stir in berry puree, making sure to scrape corners of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, and bring to a full boil. Boil, scraping bottom and sides of pan to prevent scorching, for 2 minutes to ensure that cornstarch is fully cooked. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, pick over remaining berries and measure out 2 pounds of the most attractive ones; halve only extra-large berries. Add berries to bowl with glaze and fold gently with rubber spatula until berries are evenly coated. Scoop berries into pie shell, piling into mound. If any cut sides face up on top, turn them to face down. If necessary, rearrange berries so that holes are filled and the mound looks attractive. Refrigerate pie until chilled, about 2 hours. Serve within 5 hours of chilling.
For the whipped cream, just before serving, beat cream and sugar with electric mixer on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Add vanilla if desired. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 additional seconds. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume and forms soft peaks, 30 to 60 seconds more. (I had to beat mine longer than these times). Cut pie into wedges, and serve with whipped cream.
Yield: 9-inch pie, serves 8 to 10