“Strawberry Fields Forever” isn’t the blusiest of tunes, though the Beatles certainly owe a debt to the blues tradition. But please indulge me . . .
These early summer days are perfect strawberry weather, and for me strawberries always evoke those moments when time stands still and life seems unbearably sweet. There were more of them in the sixties than there have been lately, and music was always a part of them. How appropriate that the John Lennon memorial in Central Park is Strawberry Fields.
I’ve been making this pie since I was in high school. One of my friends taught me how, and when I make it I still pull out the postcard she sent me in 1965 when I wrote to her from college asking her to remind me of the details.
The beautiful thing about this pie is that the strawberries don’t end up being cooked, so they taste as sweet and fresh as if you were picking them yourself and eating them as you went along.
Prepare the crust well in advance so it’s cool by the time you add the filling.
1-1/4 cup sifted flour
1/3 + 1 heaping tablespoon shortening
1/2 teaspoon + 1 pinch salt
1/6 cup cold water + extra
Sift the dry ingredients together, then cut the shortening in using two knives scissors style. The shortening shouldn’t be completely blended or the crust will be tough. You want bits of shortening, no larger than lentils, to remain because they melt as the crust bakes and make the crust flaky.
Next, sprinkle the water over the flour, salt, shortening mixture and use a fork to toss and blend. Use more water if necessary, but only a little bit at a time. The dough should be moist enough to adhere together in a ball, but not sticky. Form the dough into a flat patty, using plenty of flour on your hands, then roll it out. Use plenty of flour on your rolling surface and rolling pin too. Turn the dough frequently as you roll it out, and sprinkle with more flour, so it doesn’t stick to the rolling surface.
When you’ve shaped it roughly into a circle large enough for your pie pan, fold it into quarters and gently transfer it to the pan, unfolding it and smoothing it to fit. Trim the edges, if necessary, so you have only an extra half inch all around. Now tuck the overhanging crust under. To make a fancy edge like in the picture, place the index and middle finger of one hand on the edge pointing out and with half an inch between them. Use the thumb of the other hand to push a little ridge into the dough, working your way all around the edge of the pie doing the same thing.
Prick the bottom and sides of the crust and bake it at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until it turns a nice golden color.
1 box strawberry jello
1 ¾ cups cold water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
16 oz. fresh strawberries = 1 pint
Wash the strawberries, remove the stems, and slice the berries. If they are really huge, as strawberries tend to be these days, cut them in half lengthwise before you slice them.
Bring the jello, water, cornstarch, and vanilla to a boil, then take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, you can refrigerate it, but don’t let it set up. Add the strawberries and pour the jello-berry mixture into the cooled pie shell.
Chill the pie till the jello is firm—two hours is usually enough.
Serve the pie topped with sweetened whipped cream.
Next month: Coconut Cream Pie