When I was a kid, I liked to dip fresh strawberries into a little bit of sugar before I ate them. When they were still damp from being washed, the sugar clung perfectly to the berries and having a little bit of sugar made not-quite-perfect berries taste amazing. I didn’t use a lot, just enough to kiss the berries. I would eat the strawberries that looked the sweetest and darkest without sugar. This fresh strawberry pie reminds me of eating those sugar-sprinkled berries, made with fresh strawberries that are lightly glazed with a sugar-kissed strawberry sauce that holds everything together.
This is a recipe that I first made several years ago after finding it on the back of a box of cornstarch. I like it because it doesn’t use gelatin, which I tend to think takes away from the flavor and texture of the strawberries, but is frequently used in no-bake strawberry pies. The strawberries are layered into a pie crust – I like graham and shortbread, but any 9-inch crust will work – and topped with a sauce made from strawberry puree and sugar. The glossy red of the pie looks great and it tastes very fresh. The topping tastes great and doesn’t have a gelatiny feel to it, although it does a wonderful job of holding the berries in place and making the pie easy to slice.
You can’t use frozen berries for this pie, since they just don’t have the same texture as fresh. That said, you can actually use frozen berries to make the topping portion of the recipe and use fresh for the bulk of the pie. It goes without saying that you should use the best tasting fresh berries you can find for this pie, since they’re mostly unadorned. Wash and dry them well before using. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to pick up some extra strawberries when you’re at the market, because if they’re ripe and sweet enough to put into the pie, I guarantee you’re going to want to snack on some while you work!
Fresh Strawberry Pie
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (store bought or from scratch)
2 pints fresh strawberries (2 lbs)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
Wash and dry the strawberries, then remove the hulls (green leafy tops).
Take 1 1/2 cups of the berries and puree them in a food processor to make approximately 1 cup puree.
Combine puree with sugar, cornstarch and water in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for about 1 minute, then remove from heat, add in the vanilla extract and whisk the mixture steadily (doesn’t need to be fast, just to prevent the sauce from sticking to the pan) while it cools down for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the berries in half (unless they are small and you can leave them whole) and arrange them in the pie crust. When the strawberry sauce has been cooled for 5 minutes, pour it over the sliced berries, trying to cover them as evenly as possible.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until ready to serve. This pie is best eaten the day it is sliced.