It’s strawberry pickin’ season! There is nothing more delicious than a sun-ripened sweet strawberry just plucked from the vine. I’ve been picking twice now, treating my family and friends to perfectly ripe, juicy red berries, served up with cream or yogurt, in smoothies, on pancakes, and in pies.
The recipe for Strawberry Cream Pie is a variation of an old Maine formula I found in vintage cookbooks by Marjorie Standish and Vangie Knowlton. It’s really a beautiful pie; a lady that would have graced the counter pie case of the general store; or been the belle of the ball at the local church supper. Not only does this lovely glace creation look sensational, it tastes heavenly. (Must be why grandmothers always brought it to church.) Flaky pastry; lightly vanilla scented cream; perfectly ripe, gorgeous red strawberries shining with a fruit glace top; topped with slightly sweetened whipped cream.
The key to the delicious, sensual, melt-in-your-mouth taste of this pie is the fresh, juicy, bursting with flavor, of the fruit, in this case, the strawberries.
BUT …if you can’t pick your own strawberries, still do try this pie. The “Fruit” Cream Pie can be prepared with any fresh, native, perfectly ripe, Maine fruit from your local farm stand, coop food store or market. To ease the budget, I often use a combination of frozen fruit (for the cooked topping) and splurge on the fresh fruit. (My favorite combination is frozen wild blueberries and fresh red raspberries.) It’s the freshness of the fruit on top that really makes this pie shine.
This is the case where a store-bought pie shell is quite acceptable. For gluten-free cooking, I bet a gluten-free cookie crumb crust held together with melted butter would be good, or a baked, almond flour – shortbread crust.
Cream cheese is most often the cheese layer. If you’re feeling quite indulgent, fresh Maine cheeses like plain chevre or farmstead cow cheese really enhance the flavor complexity, particularly in the summer, when the animals are gazing on grass. (Same holds true for the whipping cream.)
This is the perfect, show-stopper pie for entertaining, cookouts, and family gatherings. Prepare in the morning and chill. Later, watch your delicious creation gobbled up by all your delighted family and friends.
STRAWBERRY CREAM PIE
- 1 9-inch baked pie shell
- 1- quart fresh strawberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 ounces soft cheese (cream cheese, goat cheese, farm cheese) at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or sugar
- Hull and wash the strawberries. Pick the berries over carefully, setting aside the prettiest ones for the pie shell.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the soft cheese and vanilla extract. Spread in the bottom of the baked pie shell.
- Arrange half the fresh berries in the baked pie shell, cutting them in half if needed.
- Combine the remaining berries with 1-cup sugar in a medium saucepan.
- Mash the berries and place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Whisk together the cornstarch and water.
- Gradually stir the cornstarch mixture into the boiling strawberries. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until thickened and the color has changed from opaque to clear red. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Pour the mixture over the berries in the pie shell. Chill for several hours.
- In a small bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Sweeten the whipped cream with a bit of maple syrup or sugar. Spread the whipped cream over the chilled pie.