Spring needs to come. In the Northeast, there’s always that time in mid-April where you think: This is it, I’ve had it – it has to start getting warm…Now. After weeks of bundling up, I’m ready for the nice weather to show itself. And the same goes for food. I work in Union Square where the Greenmarket takes place, and nothing is better than watching the farmers transition to spring produce.
Perhaps I was getting a little ahead myself when I decided to bake a strawberry cream pie a few weeks ago. Strawberries were/are still a ways away from coming into season, but what can I say – I was eager to get some color and freshness back into my baking. I really wanted to make a strawberry rhubarb pie, but after scouring the markets I quickly realized that I’d have to wait.
Cut to me Googling “strawberry pie recipes” in Whole Foods, sans rhubarb and in need of a new recipe, and you have the beginning of what turned out to be a really nice dish. The kind of strawberries you can get year-round at the supermarket are never as tasty as those from the farmers market, but their color was still amazing.
The photos here were taken by my dear co-worker and friend, Sarah Jacobs, a very talented food and event photographer. Sarah currently works her day job with me, but she’s been wanting to practice her food photography and build her portfolio. It’s a win-win situation for everyone: I cook/bake, she shoots, and we all eat.
Sarah had some lovely little pink plates and bright pink paper. Also, my nails at the time were neon pink. Pink pink pink.
Even without the rhubarb, the pie looked (and tasted) fresh and delicious. This particular filling is heavy on the cream cheese, which is not always my favorite flavor, but it worked well here combined with the tartness of the strawberries (Remember what I said about supermarket strawberries? More tart than sweet.).
I used a store-bought pie crust. I know, I know, a bit of a cop-out, but you can find really well-made ones, and to be honest, it’s a pain in the neck to roll out pie dough in a tiny New York apartment’s kitchen. I sort of meshed two recipes together: I liked the filling from this recipe, but didn’t want to use store-bought strawberry glaze, so I took that from this recipe. I also personally think Sarah’s photos blow those two recipe’s images out of the water.
Strawberry Cream Pie
- 1 store-bought pie crust (I like the ones at Whole Foods)
- 1 pint strawberries, sliced
- 1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- zest from 1 lemon
- strawberry glaze (recipe below)
- Pierce your pie crust with a fork (literally all over) and place it on a baking sheet. Follow the crust maker’s instructions on baking without filling. After baking, be sure to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, mix together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla and almond extracts together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Beat the whipping cream in another large bowl with an electric mixer just until it begins to thicken. Add the cream cheese mixture (from step 2) and continue beating until thick.
- Pour the cream mixture into your baked pie crust. Chill for an hour (I got away with 40 minutes).
- Thinly slice the strawberries and toss with lemon zest. When the pie has chilled, line the strawberry slices up in whatever pretty design you like. Spoon or brush the strawberry glaze on top. Chill for another 30 minutes to an hour, or just dig right in if you don’t mind a little mess 🙂
- Crush the strawberries in a blender or small food processor.
- Combine crushed strawberries and water in a large saucepan,and cook on medium at a low simmer for 2 minutes.
- Combine sugar and cornstarch, and gradually stir into the berries. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved (you shouldn’t feel any grittiness).
- Cool the glaze to room temperature and reserve for your pie topping.