Every holiday in Mimi's Kitchen has its own culinary tradition. Halloween is anything apple or pumpkin with autumn spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Thanksgiving is pièce de ré·sis·tance of pie season beginning with pecan and ending with pumpkin. Christmas is cookie season. Easter? Easter is strawberry season. Big, red, sweet strawberries signal that spring is coming and the sun will shine again.
The strawberry pie most often baked for Friends of the Kitchen came from a Farm Journals Cookbook published in 1959. It never fails to delight and cannot be improved upon. The pie begins with a baked pie shell. Sprinkle some toasted sliced almonds on the shell and then cover with vanilla pastry cream. Finally cover the top of the pie with as many strawberries as you can and pour a strawberry gel over the top.
One word of advice is to bake the shell, toast the almonds, and make the pastry cream (step 1) the day before you want to serve this red mound of yummy. You can complete the pie in short order Easter morning. It is not the simplest pie but it is a showstopper and well worth the effort.
Strawberry Satin Pie
Baked 9" pie shell*
¾ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Creamy Satin Filling
3 cups fresh strawberries
*If you do not have a favorite pie pastry then check out my Pastry! Pastry! Pastry! page for recipe options and baking instructions.
To toast almond preheat oven to 350°. Spread almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 3-5 minutes or until almonds become very aromatic and reach the desired color. Keep a close eye on the almonds as they are toasting since they can go from not nearly dome to burned in a short time. Remove toasted almonds from the oven and pour them onto a plate so they can cool in a single layer. When the almonds are cool cover the bottom of the baked pie shell.
Creamy Satin Filling
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium sized heat proof bowl lightly beat 1 egg. Set aside.
In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water whisk together sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt. Gradually pour in milk, whisking until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and bubbling. Take the pan off the heat for a moment.
Slowly add a little more than a ½ cup of hot mixture to the egg, whisking vigorously and constantly. This will prevent the egg from cooking up into unwelcome scrambled egg in your Creamy Satin Filling (pastry cream).
Return the pan to the heat as you whisk the egg mixture back into the double boiler. Cook only until bubbly again and then take off heat. Scrape the pastry cream into a strainer set over a large mixing bowl. Use a spatula to push and stir the cooling mixture into the bowl. This will strain out any lumps or tiny bits of cooked egg. Let mixture cool for 30 minutes then cover with plastic wrap by laying the plastic directly onto the pastry cream. This will prevent the pastry cream from forming an unwelcome skin as it cools in the refrigerator. Chill thoroughly. The mixture will be very thick. This may be chilled for 2-3 hours or overnight.
When pastry cream is completely chilled whip the cream until soft peaks form and set aside.
Beat the chilled pastry cream with a handheld mixer until smooth then fold in the whipped cream and vanilla. Spoon pastry cream into the baked pie shell.
1 cup halved strawberries
1 cup water
½ cup cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Slice the strawberries in half from top to bottom. Set the prettiest berries aside to be used in the center of the pie.
Place 1 cup of the least attractive berries in a saucepan to be used in the Shiny Glaze. Gently crush the berries and add 1 cup water. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until water comes to a simmer and strawberries are softened. Strain into a small mixing bowl through a sieve; gently push the berries back and forth with a spatula until all of the juice has strained through.
Combine sugar and cornstarch in the saucepan and then slowly pour berry juice over the mixture while whisking. Cook over medium-low heat stirring constantly until thick and clear. Cool for 10 minutes.
Arrange cut berries on the filling beginning with the outer edge.
Spoon the Shiny Glaze over the strawberries arranged on the pie. Return the pie to the refrigerator until serving time.
Whew! It takes a long time to make Strawberry Satin Pie but it worth the effort. It is a showstopper that is certain to please your family and friends.