June heralds summer and strawberry season. And so chilled strawberry pies—cradled in flaky shells, loaded with just-picked berries, and topped with freshly whipped cream—were a staple at my family's summer house on Lake Erie.
With the crusts browning inside our antique Bengal oven, we’d break down a portion of the berries—with a splash of water and a slurry of corn starch to thicken—on the stove top. Because the pie was passed down from my grandmother, we never really used a recipe (luckily, it's a very forgiving dessert), but I've added some tart rhubarb I picked up at my farmers market—along with strawberries—for my latest edition below.
The filling is cooked on the stove and poured into a pre-baked pie shell. I used pâte sucrée, French-style tart dough, instead of flaky pie dough to give the crust some structure once taken out of the pan. I think the lightly sweet cookie-like crust nicely balances the super tart filling, and makes for an elegant, early summer dessert.
Sweet Tart Dough (Pâte Sucrée):
½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
¼ teaspoon vanilla
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes on medium speed). Add flour and mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down sides of the bowl, and then add egg yolk and vanilla, mixing on low until dough comes together. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch round tart pan (I used a 13 ¾ x 4 ¼ inch rectangular pan in the photo) with a removable bottom. Once dough is chilled, let soften at room temperature for a few minutes, and then roll out to desired thickness (about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick). If dough sticks, dust with a little bit of flour (if dough breaks a little, that's okay; you can patch it up inside the pan). Prick small holes in the dough with a fork or docker and place into the tart pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Once chilled, bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
3 cups fresh rhubarb, roughly chopped
3 pints fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (divided)
¾ cup sugar
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons water (divided)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Whipped cream, sweetened
Combine rhubarb, 1 pint of strawberries, sugar, and cup of water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring often. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make a slurry by whisking the two remaining tablespoons of water with the cornstarch. Once strawberry-rhubarb mixture has come to a boil, add the cornstarch slurry and continue cooking, skimming any foam. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Adjust sweetness (by adding more sugar to taste, if necessary). Cool slightly.
Arrange remaining two pints of the strawberries (or as many as needed) facedown inside cooled tart shell. Pour strawberry-rhubarb mixture into tart shell and over the strawberries until the filling reaches the edge of the crust (do not over fill). Allow to cool at room temperature and then put in the refrigerator to completely set. When ready to serve, slice and top with sweetened whipped cream.
Note: if using a 13 ¾ x 4 ¼ inch rectangular pan. You might have some extra filling left over. According to one of my testers, it's delicious on ice cream, too.