Pie 101–Fresh Strawberry Pie for Memorial Day


2 places left in the SUMMER SOUPS-NO COOKING! Cooking Class at Mountain High (formerly Shouse)  on Thursday, June 18, 2015:  5-8pm.  Come learn how to be cool in the kitchen!  Click above on CURRENT CLASSES for sign-up info. Can’t wait to cook with you.

Without going into nasty details, I’ve been sick on and off for over a month.  I’d just get over one misery only to encounter another. One I’m sure I brought on all by myself, another arrived via Dave and work (everyone’s had this), and the last was maybe bit of a rerun of it all because why in the world would I want a week in which I was well? 

Life goes on though, right? Vacations, holidays, and even illnesses come and go; kids move, dogs need walks, classes are taught and trainings cooked for.  It rains, hails, sleets, and nearly snows for a Colorado Memorial Day weekend.  On a really good day, a load of laundry gets done and a meal is made; folks kiss and make up. God is good and pies are baked. This week, I was so far behind that I thought I was making pies for something I was supposed to be making pies for a week ago.  (I put the wrong date on the calendar in my snotty fog.)  They didn’t go to waste, however, as a potluck was going on at church and while I couldn’t attend, the pies went in my place.

Somehow people elsewhere are picnicking and camping; I know they are.  I’m home in my cozy kitchen with the heat, oven, and Netflix going full blast. And it’s beautifully strawberry time other places, if not in Colorado, where today is finally the day we are supposedly past the possibility of frost.  If we’re brave, we can plant something that could be ripe before frost comes again in late August or early September. (I like cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets.) Luckily there’s Fed Ex fruit for things like Marion Cunningham’s Fresh Strawberry Pie. Happy Memorial Day!



I’ve been making this pie for so many years that I can’t number them.  Sometimes a few years go by without a fresh strawberry pie–or maybe I made a cooked strawberry pie–which is a horse of an entirely different color. In Marion’s pie, half the strawberries are briefly cooked with some cornstarch and sugar; they’re then mixed with the rest of the strawberries and turned into a blind-baked pie shell (one that’s baked with nothing in it.)  You can easily make two at a time and give one away.  Why not?

  • 5 cups sliced strawberries, divided in half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 9-inch blind-baked pie shell (see recipe below or buy and pre-bake purchased dough)
  • Whipped cream for garnish

Put half of the berries in a medium saucepan along with the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice. Stir well and cook over low heat until the mixture looks clear or translucent and is thickened. Remove from heat and cool.  Gently stir in the rest of the fresh strawberries and carefully spoon evenly into the baked crust. I like to refrigerate this an hour or so before slicing and serving with a spoonful of whipped cream.

This recipe was published in THE FANNIE FARMER BAKING BOOK, which I think is now out of print.  Buy a used copy if you can find it; it’s a lovely baking book and worth anything you pay for it.

Note: If you don’t know Marion Cunningham’s work, read up by clicking on her name. I needn’t reinvent the biography wheel.  Just know Marion has been a favorite food writer of mine forever; she’s making pancakes now in that perfect kitchen up in the sky.

{printable recipe includes recipe for pie dough below}

9-inch Blind-baked pie shell:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into bits
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F**

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, or in a bowl using a pastry cutter or two knives, mix together the flour and salt and cut the butter in until the butter is the size of small, medium, and large peas.  Slowly pour in the water, stirring, until the dough begins to hang together.

Dump it out onto a floured board or counter and using both hands, pull the dough together into a ball.  Pat out into about a 6-inch round and, using a rolling pin, roll it in the four cardinal directions — north, south, east, and west.  Lift it up, dust the board or counter with flour again, and roll it out north east, south east, south west, etc. forming a rough circle.  Continue until you think you’ve a round piece of dough that’s big enough for your pie; roll and handle as little as possible. Place your 9-inch* pie plate upside down on the rolled dough to see if you’ve made a large enough circle; the dough should be at least an inch bigger than the plate. Put the plate aside. (You can do all this between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap if you like; dampen the board or counter first for the waxed paper.)

Either roll the dough loosely onto the rolling pin and unroll it into the plate or fold it in half or quarters and gently move the dough into the plate, unfolding it without stretching it.

Gently move the dough so it sits evenly in the plate and press it into place so there are no air bubbles between it and the plate. Don’t stretch the dough. Trim the dough so it is even all around the plate and turn the overhanging flap of dough under itself all around to make an upstanding ridge of 1/2-inch. You can make a fluted edge with your fingers or crimp  by using a fork.  (Note: photos below for illustration/help only; they’re from a 2-crust pie, but will hopefully be of use.  See my PIE 101 post.)

Prick the dough gently with a table fork all over except at edges.  **It is perhaps ? best to refrigerate your pie shell for 30-60 minutes now, but God will not strike you dead if you throw it immediately into the oven, which is why I had you preheat it.

Before baking:  Put a doubled piece of aluminum foil (about 12″x12″)into the dough, pressing it down to keep the dough in its shape in the pie pan while it bakes.  Leave the foil in the pan and bake 6 minutes. Remove foil (press down any bubbling places with the sheet of foil or a the back of a dinner fork), and then bake empty until barely light brown and crisp–another 8 minutes or so. A pale shortbread with a few brown edges is my goal; you might like it browner.

Remove from oven and let cool on rack before filling with the strawberry mixture. Pie shell can be baked, cooled, wrapped well, and frozen for 2-3 weeks if you’d like to work ahead.  You’ll be a rich person if you have a fillable baked pie shell in your freezer!

*You have enough dough to make a 10-inch pie if you like.  You’ll want to increase the strawberry filling a bit to fill the larger pie plate.


WINE:  Moscato d’Asti–an Italian sparkling wine with a barely sweetened edge that’s great with any berry dessert.


Be well; bake a new pie!


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