Strawberry Flavored Disaster
For the past decade, I’ve had a tiny strawberry patch by my house. Most years, I fail to do anything with them, except maybe make some jam, but nothing spectacular. This year, I decided I would try to use them for a freshly baked pie. It seemed so aesthetic and simple.
So, I got to picking. I only picked half the patch before my container I brought out was overflowing.
Deciding that was probably plenty, I went inside and washed them, and set them on paper towels to dry while I looked up a recipe for the pie. Look at all these funky little dudes!
I settled on King Arthur’s No-Bake Fresh Strawberry Pie. Mainly because I already had all the ingredients listed, partially because I use King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour anyway, so might as well use their recipe, right? Also, I don’t have pie weights, as I’ve never made a pie before, and this recipe calls for baking the crust in the microwave rather than the oven, so I figured I could skirt around using pie weights if I used this recipe.
First, it says to put the butter in a microwave safe 9″ pie pan. As soon as I dropped the stick of butter in my pie pan, I realized it mostly certainly was not a microwave safe one. In fact, I realized I don’t have any microwave safe pie pans. So, I figured I could just melt the butter in a bowl and then pour it into the pie pan, then add the dry ingredients on top of it. So I did that! And this is how it looked:
This was so different from how I imagined a pie crust to be. Most pie crusts are made using cold butter and ice water, and are certainly not as squishy as this was. Regardless, I pressed it into the pan the best I could, and discovered that there wasn’t enough dough to go up the sides, like a pie crust should. No matter how thin I made the bottom layer, it wouldn’t go up the sides. I wasn’t sure how to fix that, but then it didn’t even matter because I suddenly remembered that this was supposed to go BACK INTO THE MICROWAVE TO BAKE.
It was still not, nor was it ever, a microwave safe pie pan. So now I had a dough that needed to be cooked, and I could not follow the recipe’s method to cook it, because I just put it right back into the same pan I specifically did not put the butter in. Obviously, I took to Google to try to convert microwave time to oven time, as well as figure out what temperature I should bake it at.
After much thorough research (about one minute and skimming, because I’m wildly impatient), I threw it in the oven at 375 degrees for fifteen minutes. After that time was up, it wasn’t quite done, so I gave it another ten, which was too much, and it came out too dark in some parts.
So, the crust was a total bust in my eyes. I decided to go ahead and try to make the filling anyways, and then maybe retry another pie crust later.
For the filling, it said I needed eight cups of strawberries, which I was fairly sure I had. I cut up all the strawberries, and it ended up only measuring five cups. Then I realized I should have measured the eight cups before cutting them up, because they take up less space when they’re all cut up. So I totally mis-measured. I said fuck it and continued with the filling recipe, which called for sugar, cornstarch, water, and lemon juice. This is what it looked like when I was done with it:
Upon tasting it, the texture and taste were both off, and I wasn’t sure why, until I realized I probably used too much cornstarch, since I was using the amount that correlated with the eight cups of strawberries, rather than accounting for how much I actually had (which was an unknown amount, really, I was just estimating). Also, despite all the cornstarch, which I’m pretty sure was supposed to be the thickener, it was still runny.
Feeling defeated and disappointed, I covered the bowl with foil and put the strawberry mixture in the fridge, and left the non-pie-crust-pie-crust out on the stove, and walked away from it.
Along came my father, who always makes me feel better about my less than perfect baking attempts. He said both things I made tasted good, and whipped up this little concoction:
1. Break off a piece of homemade shortbread baked by @AScalzi98.
2. Surround shortbread with a wall of whipped cream.
3. Fill the inside of the whipped cream wall with homemade strawberry filling also by @AScalzi98.
5. Try not to lick the plate.
6. Fail. pic.twitter.com/6TLxGWCpUo
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) June 1, 2022
The pie crust I attempted really did taste far more like shortbread than a pie crust, and was also not even close to a pie crust texturally. Honestly, I don’t even like pie crust, and I love shortbread, so I guess I’m not too unhappy with how this turned out. I had him make me a serving, too, and it was pretty dang good.
Do you have any pie crust recipes to recommend? Have you ever had a garden fresh strawberry (they’re way better)? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!