Strawberry Cream Pie

This pie is an upgrade of classic strawberries and cream. It was simple and minimally sweet. The creamy pudding filling was flavored with vanilla bean- yum. I had originally planned to make it with our freshly picked berries but ultimately made it with store-bought berries. (I ran out!) The honey drizzle was essential to the presentation and to add a little sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I made the crust and filling in advance and chilled each component separately until serving to ensure that the crust wouldn’t soften once assembled. I must note that the crust remained crisp the next day when we ate the leftover pie. I also used a ceramic deep dish pie pan. Next time, I would sweeten the filling a little bit more, noted below. I would also add salt to enhance the vanilla flavor.

This would be a wonderful dessert to serve on July 4th because the components can be made in advance. Nice.

Yield: One 9-inch pie

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

For the Filling:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided (adjust sweetness to your taste)
  • 1/3 cup (5 T) cornstarch
  • generous pinch of coarse salt, or to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled (or enough to cover the top of the pie)
  • 2 tablespoons wildflower honey

To Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425º F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl or in a food processor, combine the flour and salt.
  3. Add the butter and toss to coat. Cut the butter into the flour with your hands, or pulse in the food processor until the butter resembles the size of peas.
  4. Add the water and mix to combine. The dough should come together easily but not be wet or sticky.
  5. Wrap the dough and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s 1/8-inch thick. (I rolled it out between lightly floured parchment paper.)
  7. Transfer it to a pie plate, and trim the edges so there is only 1/2 inch of overhang all around. (I did not have this luxurious amount of excess crust because I used a ceramic deep dish pie plate.)
  8. Chill the dough inside the pie plate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  9. Fold the excess dough under at the edges, pressing gently to “seal” the dough to the pie plate. Finish the edges as desired.
  10. Poke the base of the crust a few times with a fork. If the dough seems warm, chill it again.
  11. Line the crust with parchment paper and pie weights, and bake until the crust is golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.
  12. Remove the parchment and pie weights and continue baking until the crust is fully baked, 5 to 10 minutes more. (I continued to cook the crust for an additional 8 minutes.)
  13. Cool completely. (After the crust had completely cooled, I covered it with plastic wrap and kept it at room temperature overnight. I chilled it the next day before assembling the dessert.)

To Make the Filling & Finish the Pie:

  1. Mix the milk, cream, vanilla bean, and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar together in a medium sauce pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. (I used 1/4 cup granulated sugar this time but would use up to 1/2 cup next time.)
  2. While the milk warms up, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs in a medium heat-safe bowl.
  3. When the milk comes to a simmer, gradually pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to combine.
  4. Return the mixture to the pot and cook until the mixture is thick and comes to the “first boil” (one large bubble rising from the center of the pot, not many small bubbles around the edges).
  5. Whisk in the butter and pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Taste and adjust salt, if necessary. (I made the filling a day in advance and placed it in a glass bowl and refrigerated it overnight.)
  6. Cover the surface of the pudding directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 3 hours. (I chilled the pie crust for at least 3 hours prior to assembling and serving the pie as well.)
  7. To finish the pie, top the pie with the hulled strawberries.
  8. Warm the honey in the microwave or over medium heat, and when it’s runny, brush it over the strawberries.
  9. Serve the pie chilled. (not too chilled- let it warm up slightly so that the flavors shine through!)

Ina Garten’s Easy French Apple Tart

I already have a couple easy fall apple desserts that I make every year- French apple cake and apple pie bars. I had to add this one onto the list this year. I love fruit desserts! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten, via epicurious.com. I used the puff pastry shortcut, reduced the amount of jam in the glaze, and modified the baking method.

The apple juices, sugar, and butter collect on the edges of the tart (and become quite dark!) but can be trimmed prior to serving. We ate it with vanilla ice cream which was completely unnecessary but delicious.

For the Pastry:

(Alternatively, use one sheet of store-bought puff pastry- I used Trader Joe’s)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup ice water

For the Apples:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples or a combination of apples (I used 1 1/2 Granny Smith, 1 1/2 Honey Crisp, and 1 Juici apple)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water

For the Puff Pastry Crust:

  1. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for 2 hours at room temperature.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; remove from the pan.
  3. On the parchment, roll the thawed crust into a 10×14-inch rectangle. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges.
  4. Place dough (on parchment) on the rimmed baking sheet and keep in the refrigerator to chill while the apples are prepared.

To Make the Pastry Crust:

  1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
  2. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas.
  3. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together.
  4. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  6. Roll the dough slightly larger than 10×14 inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. (I would roll it out on the parchment paper.)
  7. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while the apples are prepared.

To Prepare the Apples and Finish the Tart: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller.
  3. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick slices. (I used a mandoline.)
  4. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.)
  5. Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup sugar and dot with the butter.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and continue to bake 15 to 30 minutes more, until the pastry is browned, the edges of the apples start to brown, and the apples are tender. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. *Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine!
  8. When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the water or Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. (I used apricot jam and used a whisk to break up large chunks. It could also be strained.)
  9. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sourdough Mozzarella Grandma Pizza Pie

This is a sourdough version of one our favorite pizzas. When we order a pizzeria pizza, it is almost always a Grandma pie. The sauce makes it extra delicious.

This pillowy crust is absolutely perfect for a Grandma pie. I have made it several times now, and have used the crust for classic homemade pies as well. I was able to shape the dough into either form extremely easily just using my fingertips.

The crust recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I incorporated white whole wheat flour and modified the technique and baking temperature. The sauce is from Bon Appetit, contributed by Alfia Muzio, and is included in my Classic Grandma Pie post. According to the original recipe, this crust is also delicious with bold toppings and well-aged cheeses.

I included some active dry yeast in the crust, but plan to try it without, using fed sourdough starter instead of unfed, now that my sourdough starter is really active. The crust can also be made with sourdough discard.

I have made the dough two hours prior to baking the pizza, but the dough can be made a day in advance and put in the refrigerator to rise overnight. I also doubled the recipe on a few occasions to try various toppings (and to have leftovers!).

Yield: One Grandma Pie (half sheet pan) or Two 12-inch round Thin-Crust Pies

(Double the recipe to make Two Grandma Pies or Three 14-inch round Classic Pies)

For the Pizza Crust & Toppings:

  1. Stir any liquid on top of your refrigerated starter back into it before measuring 1 cup (241g) into a large mixing bowl. Note: This is a good opportunity to feed the remainder of your starter, if necessary.
  2. Add the warm water, flours, salt, and yeast. Mix to combine, then knead for about 7 minutes in a mixer with the dough hook, until the dough wraps itself around the hook and cleans the side of the bowl.
  3. Place the dough in a greased container, cover and let rise until almost doubled in bulk. Depending on the vitality of your starter, this will take between 2 and 4 hours. For a faster rise, place the dough in a warm spot, or double the yeast. (I placed my dough in a warming drawer and it doubled in about 2 hours.)
  4. Towards the end of the rise time, preheat your oven to 500°F. (I heat a baking stone in the bottom of the oven.)
  5. For a thicker, large pizza- a Grandma Pie, oil an 18″ x 13″ half-sheet pan. Place the dough in the selected pan and press it out to the edges, again giving it a 15-minute rest before continuing if it starts to snap back. (For two thin-crust pizzas, divide the dough in half, and shape each into a flattened disk. Drizzle two 12″ round pizza pans with olive oil, and brush to coat the bottom. (I used a pizza peel and pizza stone to make classic pizzas instead.) Place the dough in the pans, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes. After this rest, gently press the dough toward the edges of the pans. If it starts to shrink back, cover and let rest for 15 minutes before continuing.)
  6. Cover the pan(s) and let the dough rise until it’s as thick as you like. (It will rise quite a bit in 30 minutes. I just let it rest while preparing the toppings.)
  7. While the dough is rising, make the sauce. (see recipe below)
  8. Once dough has risen on baking sheet, top with mozzarella, and dot pie with tomato sauce; sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes, if desired. Add any additional toppings, if desired.
  9. Bake the Grandma Pie until golden brown and crisp on bottom and sides, 15–30 minutes. (Bake traditional pies for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned.)

Note: Store leftover pizza covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

For the Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce:

  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained (I used San Marzano)
  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic cloves
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Pulse tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, oil, and basil in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth (some texture is okay).
  2. Season with salt and pepper.

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