Strawberries!

Yay! It’s strawberry time! I just love them and eat as many as possible. Obviously, being the pie lover that I am, I had to have some pie. But which kind should I have? I really, really couldn’t decide, so I did a side-by-side bake-off and made my two faves:

Strawberry Rhubarb

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and Fresh Strawberry Pie

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Look at those bites:

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That was fun to do. I used a single crust and made 6 mini-pies. 3 lattice-crust Strawberry Rhubarb and 3 single crust Fresh Strawberry. I just halved each recipe to make the filling for 3 minis each. And I can’t tell you what I like better. I like them both. I am glad they are both around to be enjoyed.

So different, but each so good in its own way. The tart and sweet Strawberry Rhubarb with the obligatory vanilla ice cream on top. Substantial and earthy. And the sweet, sweet Fresh Strawberry with the huge dollop of whipped cream on top. Light and ethereal.

I had fun reading the comments on the Strawberry Rhubarb. She is so into the rhubarb and the look of magenta celery pie. I admit, it seems weird to put a vegetable looking item in a fruit pie. (I am at a loss for anything else to use it for, so I may try making up a pitcher of Shrubarbs since we are fans of gin.) Anyway, this recipe is easy to follow and came out spectacularly. Here are my cautions:

  • Don’t cut up the strawberries too small because they really break down when baking. Small berries can just be halved, and large quartered.
  • She cautions that it is a runny pie and better eaten the next day. I guess hers needed to firm up more, but mine was firm enough to eat that day. While this isn’t designed to be eaten warm, it should be thoroughly cooled, I think it tasted best the day I made it. Again, pastry just doesn’t weather well sitting around with juice on it. We ate one the next day and it was very good, but I think the “same day pie” tasted best all around.
  • Also, the mini-pie format is superior because a whole pie left cut and revisited the next day is just less appealing. These would do well as hand pies too if you don’t have the small pans. You use the same type of crust and same filling, just make a big round and fold in half and crimp. Go easy, if at all, on the butter in hand pies.
  • Definitely follow her advice and put on a sheet pan. These babies are like every other fruit pie in that they boil over. Not a lot, but they do and you don’t want that on your oven floor. Trust the cook here.

The Fresh Strawberry Pie is my mother-in-law’s, which my husband says he never remembers her making. Oh well, she penned a cookbook back in the 70s and this was on the first page of desserts. I make it several times every year because it sounded good and is good, but didn’t realize I wasn’t making something from his childhood memories. Oh well. I am sure there are other recipes out there for this style, but I feel bound to use this one. Here are some cautions on it:

  • Don’t ever cut the strawberries! If you do, they will bleed into the pie and ruin the filling. Believe me, you will want to wedge more berries into the crust, but if you just put what will fit without cutting, you will have enough. Let the gelee fill in the blanks. It is sublime.
  • Don’t forget the whipped cream. You cannot eat this pie without whipped cream.
  • I think the original recipe is too sweet and so I reduced the sugar for the publishing. It also calls for red food coloring for some unknown reason. I thought the jello powder was for the color and flavor boost, so I am not sure what you would accomplish with food coloring and have never used and omitted to publish as well. (Please forgive, Joyce).
  • It says to cool at least 6 hours. I think it’s ready to eat around 4 hours. It is okay the next day, but you are really pushing it with every hour after the gelee is firmed up. Plus, it’s so pretty, you will have a hard time not eating it all up. But if you are planning to serve for an event, don’t make it too too far in advance…think 12 hours max.

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