Fresh strawberry pie, how do I love thee? Is there REALLY anything better? It just screams summer and I am all about using fresh, local produce when I can. Our local u-pick berry farms are finishing up their season but try the farmers markets. The best berries for this pie are smaller fruits, not the jumbo guys, otherwise you will need to slice many in half to make them fit. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, this not-too-sweet recipe is perfect for a dessert-on-the-patio sort of night. My boys and husband look forward to Strawberry Pie Day at our house each year! Fresh pies deserve fresh whipped cream too. See the end of the recipe for that super easy how-to as well.

4 pints (about 3 lbs) of fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried, hulled

3/4 cup sugar

2 Tbl cornstarch (or substitute 2 1/2 Tbl arrowroot powder)

1 1/2 tsp Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes or Ball Low-Sugar pectin (not the regular pectin otherwise it won’t set properly)

pinch of salt

1 Tbl fresh lemon juice

1 baked pie shell (recipe follows)

Whipped cream (recipe follows)

Baked Pie Crust

1 1/2 c (5 oz) Better Batter Gluten Free Flour

1/4 tsp table salt

6 Tbl cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-in cubes

1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 1/4-in cubes

4-8 Tbl cold water

Pie weights

Whipped Cream

1 cup cold heavy whipping cream

1-2 Tbl sugar

In a food processor combine the flour and salt and pulse together until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until the dough just starts to come together in uneven clumps. You still want to be able to see small chunks of butter and all the flour will be coated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add cold water one tablespoon at a time through the feed tube until the dough becomes tacky, processing in between water additions. The total amount of water you will add will depend on how you measured your flour (use a scale!) and the overall humidity in your kitchen. If you add too much water simply add a little more flour, but as you continue to process the dough, adding flour, it will toughen the dough, so work carefully and quickly. Dump your pie dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a cohesive disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to bake the pie crust, flour your work surface and rolling pin with Better Batter flour. Carefully and quickly roll the pie dough into a 12-inch circle and transfer to a pie pan; mine happen to be deep dish pie pans. Gently fit pie crust into dish and tuck overhanging crust under and flute the edge with your fingers or the tines of a fork. Use a fork to “dock” or make small holes in the bottom of the crust, which will prevent the shell from puffing during the baking process. Put the unbaked pie crust in the freezer for 15-30 minutes to firm up before baking (this is essential in stopping the crust from sliding down the sides of the pie pan). Add a sheet of foil and pie weights (I use dried beans) on top of your crust. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights and rotate crust; bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and cooked through. Cool completely on a wire rack.

While the pie crust is baking, prepare the filling. Of the 3 lbs of strawberries, select approximately 6 oz of berries which are imperfect – ones that are underripe, have parts which needed to be cut off, misshapen, etc. In a mini food chopper, food processor or blender, puree these 6 oz of strawberries as part of the glaze. You should have 3/4 cup of fruit puree when you are done. Add the puree to a medium saucepan and add sugar, cornstarch, pectin, and salt, whisking well to combine. Cook strawberry glaze mixture over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a spatula. The mixture will froth at the beginning and then darken and thicken. Transfer glaze to a large bowl and add lemon juice and stir to combine. Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile pick over remaining berries and add to the glaze, halving larger berries. Fold all berries and glaze gently with a spatula until all fruit is coated. Scoop berries into cooled pie shell, piling into a mound. Rearrange berries to fill in gaps and flip berries cut side down to make an attractive pie. Refrigerate pie at least 2-3 hours. Serve within 5-6 hours of chilling or pie juice may make the crust soggy. It’s been my experience the entire pie doesn’t last long enough for that to happen at my house. Top with homemade whipped cream.

For whipped cream, add cold cream and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on low speed until bubbles form. If you throw it in high speed at the beginning you will be wearing cream and it will be all over your walls, so start slowly! Increase speed, beating until smooth, thick, and soft peaks form, about 30-60 seconds.

Pie serves 8.