This recipe takes a considerable amount of down time waiting for the pie dough to chill (twice) and for the glaze to set up around the berries. If you can, try to make this dessert in the morning of the day you want to serve it for dinner. Chilled overnight, it will still be good, but it is always best the same day.
1 large glass of ice water
Make your single pie crust by mixing together in a medium-large mixing bowl:
1 & 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
a few pinches of salt
1 tablespoon of white sugar
a dash of cinnamon
Once these dry ingredients are incorporated, add:
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cubed in 1/2 inch pieces and chilled for 5 minutes in the freezer.
Cut the butter into the flour using two knives or a pastry blender, or by rubbing the butter into the flour with your fingers. If you use your hands, be careful that the dough never gets too warm, as it will turn out tough. Once the mixture is near the consistency of coarse meal, add:
1-2 tablespoons of the ice water, a little at a time, until you have a dough that stays together, but is not sticky or wet. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap in cling film, then flatten into a disc. I think that the goal is to still be able to see some of the streaks of butter in the dough, so don’t fret too much about under mixing – just don’t over mix. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.
Once it is completely chilled, take the dough out and place on a lightly floured surface, press it out a bit with your fingers, and then start rolling it into as even a circle as you can. If this is your first time with pie crust, don’t get too discouraged – it takes a lot of attempts to make a good crust, but even an imperfect version will be appreciated by your friends (and if they don’t appreciate it, don’t invite them for dinner ever again). Once you have a circle that is about two inches larger than your 9-10″ pie plate (or tart pan, as I used for this recipe), make sure that there is flour on both surfaces of the dough and fold it it half, then in half again; this will make the transfer from your rolling surface to the baking dish much easier. Place the dough wedge into your pie plate and unfold, pressing the pastry as tightly into the pan as you can. Trim the edge with a sharp knife, or use the excess to make a pinched fluted edge (a la my grandma). Once the dough is in the pan, place it back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. The old rule here is, “make it cold, bake it hot.”
Preheat the oven to 400 while the dough chills. Once the 30 minutes is up, take the crust out of the fridge and poke the bottom of it all over with a fork – this will keep the dough from puffing up too much. Additionally, when you bake a crust without a filling, as here, it is “blind-baking,” and you should always weigh it down to make sure that the crust doesn’t take up the space where your filling will be. This is very easy to do – just place a sheet of aluminium foil in the crust, then add enough dried beans to cover the bottom of the foil in the pan. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes – then check to see how the crust is coming along. Depending on your oven, you might need a few extra minutes to get the crust to brown and set properly. It should be well on its way to golden brown, but not at all fully brown. Once you get to this point, remove the crust and brush with a well-beaten mixture of:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of milk
Place the crust back in the oven after brushing with the egg wash and bake for 1-2 minutes more, or until the wash is golden and shiny. As I said before, this step is very helpful in keeping the crust flaky and not soggy.
Filling the pie is simple. Once you have cooled the crust, fill the it with as many strawberries as you can fit with the points of the berries facing up (it should take less than a quart to do this, but I always buy more, in case there are some mushy berries). Use the softer, over-ripe berries to make the glaze to go in the crevices between the fruit, which comprises:
7-9 strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons St. Germain liqueur (optional)
Bring to a simmer over medium heat – you may need to add more water, depending on how juicy your berries are. Once the fruit starts to breakdown (after about 5 minutes), transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to make a puree. Return to heat and make a slurry of:
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Dash of Creme de Cassis (optional)
Once your fruit puree is back to the boiling point, add the cornstarch slurry and stir contantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Cook for about 30 seconds or so and then immediately remove from the heat. You want to cool the glaze to room temperature before you add it to the pie crust, so you can place it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes (stirring occasionally) to speed up the process. Once it is cool, spoon the glaze over the berries and tap it on the counter a few times to get it to settle into all the spaces. Cool the pie for at least an hour before serving plain, or with freshly whipped cream. Happy Birthday!