My father likes to tell the story of how he was mercilessly teased by his family after one day walking into the kitchen to see his favourite dessert cooling on the counter, and exclaiming, rather more loudly than necessary “Oh boy, strawberry pie!” He says they could tease him and tease him all they wanted, but it didn’t matter. It was worth it for that pie.
I wish I could share my grandmother’s recipe with you, but I can’t. She passed away when I was a baby and her recipes passed with her. I can, however, share my recreation of it, based on my father’s memory.
It’s like no other strawberry pie I have ever seen, tasted, or read a recipe for. It is a cooked strawberry pie: think strawberry-rhubarb without the rhubarb, packed top to bottom with the sweetest, ripest, juiciest strawberries you can find. And I will warn you here and now that the quality of the strawberries you use matters.
My children love it almost as much as my father does. I made one last night after they went to bed. My oldest ate three pieces for breakfast. It’s that good.
Oh Boy, Strawberry Pie
For the crust:
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 6 oz (12 T.) cold butter, cut into small chunks
- 2 oz (4 T.) leaf lard (if you can get it, otherwise use all butter), cut into small chunks
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/3 to 1/2 c. ice water
- Blend the flour with the salt. Toss in the butter and lard and, working quickly, blend it into the flour. I do this by grabbing clumps between my thumb and fingertips and smearing them together.
- Blend until the fats are mostly, but not completely mixed into the flour. There should still be small lumps scattered through. Pour the water over the mixture – using the lesser amount if you live in a humid climate and the larger amount if you live in a dry one.
- Using your hands again, blend the ingredients just until the dough comes together into a ball. Divide it in two, wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate it for 1/2 an hour while you prepare the filling.
For the strawberry filling:
- 6 cups of sliced strawberries (frozen or fresh)
- 1/2 cup flour (yes, this is a lot for a pie, but strawberries are a very juicy fruit. You will need it)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Combine all three ingredients and let them sit for 15 minutes to draw the juice out of the strawberries and hydrate the flour and sugar. This will let you blend them in more evenly.
To assemble the pie:
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Roll out the bottom crust and lay it in the pie plate.
- Fill the plate with the strawberry mixture, spreading it out evenly.
- Roll out the top crust and fit it over the pie, trimming and crimping as necessary.
- Cut about a dozen vents in the top crust. This is crucial to let the steam escape and reduce the chances of you winding up with strawberry pie baked onto the bottom of your oven. (Still, I always lay a sheet of aluminum foil underneath it on the bottom rack just in case)
- Place the pie in the oven and bake for 60 to 80 minutes. It is done when the crust is nicely golden and the strawberry juices are boiling furiously (not just a little bit, wait for full on fury) in the vents of the top crust.
- Let the pie cool until just barely warm before cutting. It’s delicious as is, and even more delicious topped with vanilla ice cream.