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!)

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