Yesterday was Pi day, and there’s really no reason to need an excuse to make a pie, but I took the excuse and ran with it. Spring is creeping in on us. Warmer days and cool breezes in the evening and there’s this smell in the air that smells like Easter and wet grass and being a kid again, all rolled into one, deep inhale. I love the longer days and the way the sunlight stretches across the grass until nearly 8 p.m. On the days when it isn’t blowing 50 mph in this town, and it’s not yet 100+ degrees, it’s nearly sinful to stay inside and miss it. These perfect days are fleeting.
I had 5 lbs of strawberries on my counter top yesterday and decided to use part of them for a pie. I knew exactly the two books to consult: Sweety Pies and Bouchon. Bouchon has the perfect, and I mean PERFECT pie crust recipe. It’s actually the crust recipe for a deep dish quiche, but I use it for pies and it’s perfect. It rolls out and stays together so well, you can pick the entire thing up once it’s rolled out and move it like a towel. It’s flaky and tastes like butter, because that’s all the fat that’s used! I have gone down the road of lard crusts and half butter/half crisco, and none have held up as well as this recipe. So, if you’re struggling with your pie crust at this juncture in your life, struggle no more. As always, Keller, or in this case, his pastry chef, has done the dirty work for us.
For the filling, I consulted the amazing and funny book, Sweety Pies: An Uncommon Collection of Womanish Observations. Every recipe has a story and a unique woman behind it. I strongly recommend buying this book. Every pie I’ve tried from it has been wonderful and the stories are hilarious and make you wish you were a Southern woman with a fiercely defended pie recipe to make all your other Southern friends jealous. To be honest, though, the crust recipes included don’t hold up for me (cracked, crumbled, cried-I’m sure it was my fault), so that is why I use the crust from Bouchon. Because I hate failing with a recipe that’s supposed to be a comfort.
This pie is more like a cobbler. The recipe even says to just put the crust on top. But I’m a crust-gal and it’s my favorite part, especially if it’s a good crust. The crust recipe makes just enough for a deep dish pie plate plus a little extra. I used the little extra to cut out hearts for the top. You’d probably have enough to do a lattice top, or even a thin shell for the top, especially if you didn’t use such a deep pan. The filling is quite syrupy, so I’d suggest serving it in bowls with vanilla ice cream.
For the crust:
2 cups AP flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp kosher salt
8 ounces chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ pieces
1/4 cup ice water
Place 1 cup of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low and add the butter a small handful at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is completely blended with the flour. Reduce the speed, add the remaining flour, and mix just to combine. Add the water and mix until incorporated. The dough will come around the paddle and should feel smooth, not sticky, to the touch.
Remove the dough from the mixer and check to be certain that there are no visible pieces of butter remaining. Pat the dough into a 7-8″ disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to a day.
For the filling:
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup AP flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
6 cups hulled and halved, fresh strawberries
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out your pie crust to about a 12″ circle. Fit into the pie plate and trim off the excess and roll up into a ball and let rest.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and cloves and mix thoroughly. Add the strawberries and toss gently until well combined. Let stand for 15 minutes, then toss again and spoon into a 9″ deep dish pie plate. Dot the filling with the butter. Roll out the excess of your dough and cut into hearts and arrange on top of the filling. I folded the edges of my crust over because the filling didn’t come up all the way to the surface of my dish, and connected the edges a bit with the tips of the hearts. Do what you like – be creative! Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you like!
Place the pie on the center rack of the oven and bake until the pastry is golden – 30-45 minutes. I tented my pie with foil so that the bottom of my crust would be cooked through but the top wouldn’t burn, and I probably left the pie in there for a total of one hour, the last 20 minutes with it tented.
Let cool completely and serve in bowls with scoops of vanilla ice cream. Use the juice from the pie as a syrup on your ice cream. Be happy.
That lovely, crunchy sugar is from King Arthur Flour. I love that company and all the fun things you can get for your baking adventures!