Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Homemade Strawberry Pie

In our fast paced lives filled with fast food, it is easy to forget the pleasures of a homemade dish.  We also tend to forget how easy some foods are to make.

Once upon a time, my brother, my sister and I cooked and baked just about every day.  We liked food and we liked trying new recipes.  There were many failures.  No matter what we put on the table, my father ate some of it.  If it was bad, he didn't say anything but after leaving the table he went to the cupboard to retrieve his favorite blue bowl.  He filled it with saltines and milk.  He quietly went to the living room and ate.

Actually, I do remember one time Dad reacted to my cooking.  I made chili and accidentally used paprika instead of chili powder.  That was bad.

Now I have three boys, a husband, and a job.  Cooking and baking every night has lost its appeal.  Pies are the only exception.  I love making pies.  Blueberry, apple, pumpkin, peach, and, of course, strawberry.  Sometimes, I just make the crust and top it with butter & cinnamon sugar.

My grandmother taught me how to make a good pie crust.  It is not a secret recipe or complicated one.  It is actually the one usually printed on a rolling sheet.  The trick is to respect the dough and not overwork it.  Grandma said, "If you need to re-roll it, toss it and make new."  This coming from a frugal woman who only let us use half a napkin left a lasting impression.  I don't toss it.  Instead I make the cinnamon sugar crusts.

I have increased the crust recipe because I like even numbers and lots of crust.  I also have given very detailed directions.  So many people say that pie crusts are difficult.  Not really.  They just take patience and practice.  The results are well worth the effort.  I have never had a strawberry pie in a restaurant or from a store that even came close in taste to my grandmother's recipe.

3 cups flour
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt

Combine these with a pastry blender or fork until it is evenly crumbly.

Slowly add about 8 Tablespoons cold water. Mix with the pastry blender until mixed.  Don't over mix.  The exact amount of water needed can vary depending on humidity.  I usually add 2/3 of it and then slowly add more until it is the right consistency.

Rolling it out takes a little practice.  Flour the sheet and the rolling pin.  Divide the dough in half and pat them into flat patties.  Turn it in the flour. Start rolling.  Flip the dough and change rolling direction frequently.  Roll larger than pan will be.  When ready, carefully roll it on the pin and unroll in the pan.  Cut any excess that touches the table.  Fold over and pinch the edges.

Since this will be baked unfilled, pierce the crust's bottom with a fork in several places.
Bake at 425 degrees (F) for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.

Strawberry Glaze

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup water

Simmer for 5 minutes.

1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch, heaping
Mix well.

Sprinkle the sugar mix into the simmering strawberries and stir.  Do this slowly or lumps will for.  Stir constantly until it boils, thickened and becomes clear.  Let it cool for 15 to 20 minutes before pouring over strawberries.

Fill the crust with strawberries (sliced or whole depending on preferences).  Cover with glaze.  Refrigerate.