I went strawberry picking on Friday and had a bounty in the fridge. Unlike last year, when I worried about the fruit going bad in the fridge, it’s only been a few days and I already no longer have any left. By Sunday, the strawberries had disappeared into stomachs, mousse, and this pie. Really mostly this pie. Because of it, I need to go picking again. That’s not a bad thing, though.
This strawberry pie is actually pretty similar to the summer berry pie that I love to make around 4th of July. For this one, you make a sort of jam with strawberries that you then toss more strawberries into, and then you dump it all into a graham cracker crust. No baking (except the crust) and really minimal effort. It’s one of the best ways that I can think of to highlight the spring fruit– it’s not too sweet and retains a lot of the essence of fresh strawberries since they’re the main ingredient. Plus, it comes together in the time it takes to pick all the strawberries.
A bit on strawberry picking, too– if you’re going to make this pie, I highly suggest picking your own a day or two before preparing it. Not only are the strawberries that you pick exponentially more flavorful than the grocery store variety, they are prettier, fresher, and much less expensive. I paid about $7.50 for over 4 pounds of strawberries– it was $1.75 per pound, and it only took about 20 minutes to pick all of them. And the farm was only 10 minutes from my apartment, so the closest berry-picking location for you may not be as far away as you think. Plus, local berries are always smaller and much more adorable than the giants from California. Sometimes I think they’re too pretty to eat. That hasn’t stopped anyone from snacking on them, though.
So basically after reading this, your weekend plans will be to wake up, go to the closest strawberry farm that lets you pick your own, and whip up this pie. If you fear your berries are going to go bad before you use all of them, go ahead and clean them, chop them, and mix them with some sugar. Stick all of that in a Ziploc bag, and freeze it. Then you can enjoy local, fresh, delectable strawberries year round, and you can look forward to doing it all over again next spring. Strawberry-based desserts are a rite of the season, and this pie is a fantastic way to kick it off.
from The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook
Note: The original graham cracker crust for this recipe isn’t cooked. I didn’t particularly like it. It was okay, but the graham cracker crust for the summer berry pie is much better.
The strawberry sauce will change from a pinkish color to bright red when it is boiling.
Graham Cracker Crust:
9 whole graham crackers, broken into small (1-inch-ish) pieces
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1. Process graham cracker pieces in a food processor/chopper to fine crumbs, about 30 seconds.
2. Sprinkle melted butter and sugar over graham cracker crumbs and pulse to incorporate, about 5 pulses.
3. Heat oven to 325 F. Sprinkle crumbs into a 9 or 9 ½ inch pie pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press down the crumbs in an even layer, starting at the center and working out. At the edges, gently press the crumbs up the sides of the pan.
4. Bake crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool, about 1 hour.
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
pinch of table salt
7 ½ cups (about 3 pounds) strawberries, quartered if large, kept whole if very small
1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch and pinch of salt in a medium saucepan, and then whisk in 1/3 cup cold water. Measure 3 cups of strawberries into the pan and mash, using a whisk, potato masher, pastry cutter or fork.
2. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly and further mashing the berries with a whisk. Boil the mixture for a full minute, continuing to whisk constantly. Transfer the mixture to another bowl and let cool to room temperature.
3. Once the strawberry sauce has cooled, gently stir in the remaining 4 ½ cups of strawberries. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and refrigerate for at least two hours. Serve with whipped cream.