Strawberry season is upon us and what a wonderful time it is. Growing up in Southern California, where the growing conditions for berries are ideal, I was spoiled with plump and sweet strawberries throughout spring and summer. The local u-pick is not far from home and its always worth more than one trip per season. As soon as you step out of the car, you can smell the ripe-for-picking berries basking in the hot sun. It's dreamy!
The hardest part about picking strawberries is that they're so unbelievably delicious; part of you wants to enjoy them fresh because they're perfect, but the other part of you wants to bake something for the special occasion of having impeccable fruit at your disposal. It's really a battle in your mind, heart and stomach.
Here's my solution: Strawberry Pie. No longer do we need to fret over the question of baking or consuming as is. Fresh berries, a flavor enhancing component, and a baked pie crust. Not without the company of a fluffy and slightly sweet cream topping. It's all your hearts desires of the season in one pie slice.
I use a traditional pie crust to appropriately compliment the freshness of the berries and the healthiest version of whipped cream, coconut cream with honey. Balance is key in this one. The jam I use is sweetened only with fruit instead of refined sugar. Although, sometimes I use honey. Graham cracker crust (or gluten-free graham cracker crust) is another great alternative for this recipe. I like to pile the strawberries high. It's a sight for sore eyes.
Photo property of Malorie Harris.
Strawberry Season Pie
Yields 1 Pie.
For the crust:
- 1-1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 Cup ice water
- 1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and cubed
For the filling:
- 3/4 Cups strawberry jam, no sugar added
- 2 Tablespoons water
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
- 2 lbs. of strawberries, or 1-2 cups more if desired
For the topping:
- 1 can coconut cream
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- It is important to make the coconut cream first, to allow time to set in the refrigerator, as it becomes firmer as it chills. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the coconut cream until very soft peaks form. This will take approximately 5 minutes. Then, beat in the honey and vanilla. The cream will seem too thin at this point. Store in an airtight container or mason jar in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. The cream will be more stiff and easy to dollop when its done.
- While the coconut cream is chilling, heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch pie pan and place it on a sheet pan. To make the dough, add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir with a fork to combine. Then, cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or with your fingertips. Do this until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add the ice water and form until the dough becomes a loose ball. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes or more. Then, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, to make a 12-13" circle. Turn it frequently and add flour as needed to prevent sticking.
- Gently roll the dough around your rolling pin and transfer it to your prepared pie pan. Press the dough evenly on the bottom and into the sides. Trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears, and fold under. Then, crimp with your fingers or press with a fork, whichever design you prefer. I've been in a fork mood lately. I like my pies rustic looking.
- Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom on the crust and on the sides. This helps prevent bubbles in the crust as it bakes.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with 1 Tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash on the edges of the pie crust, to create a golden sheen as it bakes.
- Place the unbaked pie crust in your freezer for at least thirty minutes, or until well chilled and firm. Then, bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the bottom is cooked through and the edges are golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- While the crust is cooling, make the filling. In a bowl, whisk together the water and gelatin. Then, in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the jam and the gelatin mixture. Do not boil but bring to a simmer and let it cook for just 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden or rubber spoon. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and zest. Set aside to cool completely.
- Once the jam mixture and pie crusts are completely cooled, add the strawberries to the jam mixture and toss to coat. Then, pour into the pie crust, piling as high as you'd like.
- Serve the pie at room temperature or chilled with a dollop of cream. The pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for only 2-3 days.
- To simplify this recipe, use a pre-made pie crust.
- Any fruit jam will work. Although strawberry enhances the pie, I have used peach jam and received just as many compliments. A rhubarb jam would be delicious as well.