Recipe: Fresh Strawberry Pie

I grew up eating fresh strawberry pie. Everyone who knew me knew that it was my favorite. It’s one of those early 20th century American dishes that, if you think hard enough, will transport you to another time (long before anyone could imagine clear “strawberry” gel now often used to make this pie). This recipe is adapted from the Pennsylvania Railroad dining car cooking and service instruction manual from the 1940s, which I found in an antique shop in Wayne County, and is also a great time travel machine. We’ve tested and tweaked this recipe a bunch of times, so feel free to keep this lovely card and make it often. Let me know when you do!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Makes 1 9-inch pie

  • 1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 4-8 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  • 2½ to 3 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried, and hulled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons cornstarch

To make the dough, blend the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the ice water (just enough to hold the dough together) and blend well.

Form the dough into a ball and knead it lightly with the heel of your hand on a work surface for a few seconds to distribute the fats evenly. Shape the dough into a ball, flatten into a ½-inch disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the dough has rested, lightly flour a work surface and roll out dough into a round large round, enough to fit into a 9-inch pie pan with a 1-inch overhang. Gently transfer the rolled out crust to the pan, careful not to stretch the dough. Trim edges until there is an even overhang around the pie. Fold the overhang under itself and crimp as desired. Line pie with a piece of foil, lightly draping the foil over the crimped edges. Use pie weights (dried rice or beans also work) to weigh it down.

Bake crust for 40 to 50 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and carefully lift out foil and weights. Place on a wire rack and let cool.

To make the filling, puree ½ pint of strawberries with sugar and cornstarch until smooth. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the puree and heat until bubbling. Allow the berry puree to bubble for 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Removed from heat and cool for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. When cooled completely, pour about 1 to 1½ cups of puree over berries (just enough to light coat) in a large bowl. Arrange the strawberry mixture in an even layer in the cooled pie crust and chill. Top with a generous amount of whipped cream before serving.