Wednesday, May 19, 2010

California Cutie Pie


I really just could not wait to share this recipe with you. Can you blame me? Even right now as I am writing this, my heart is pitter-pattering just thinking about this lovely, juicy, sunny strawberry pie.

So, its really no secret that I have been obsessed with fresh, in-season berries. I just can't get enough of them; when I see them at the farmer's market, their beautiful, bright faces just seem to whisper, "Take me home with you..." And of course I am a more than happy to oblige them. If if wasn't for the fact that berries are packed with antioxidants, this might be an unhealthy obsession. Lucky for me, I can even bake strawberries into a pie and call it healthy. 
I decided to make this pie as a submission for a contest put on by Ms. Humble from Not So Humble Pie. I LOVE her blog, and it is definitely close to the top of my list of favorites. She has a wonderful voice when she speaks about her baked goods, and every single one of her dessert creations seems like the food equivalent of a runway model with a mellow soul: gorgeous enough to be straight off the page of a magazine, but not so pretentious that it is unapproachable. Everything Ms. Humble shares always makes my mouth water, my tummy rumble, and all those sweet tastebuds on my tongue scream for attention. And it certainly doesn't hurt that she was a scientist in a former life.
 

I am not really sure how popular Strawberry Pie is out on the west coast, but growing up in the Midwest we had strawberry pie all the time.  It is really popular in a lot of homestyle diners, and is always heaping with strawberries and served with a big dollop of whipped cream.  I wanted to replicate that here, but with more of a California feel to it. 



So to make this a California strawberry pie, I used local strawberries and I also included some mandarin segments in the filling.  As I mentioned, strawberries are in season here, and I always get mine from the local farmers market.  The strawberries they sell are outstanding, and they are picked in Carlsbad, which is just about 15 minutes north of where I live.  Also around this time of year, you can also buy bags of these adorable little California mandarins.  They are so tiny, that they would just fit in the center of your cupped hand (maybe a little bigger than a golf ball).  On the bag they always call them "California Cuties," and it seems appropriate; everything is cuter in mini-size.  Like the strawberries, these mandarins are sooo sweet and juicy, so it is a perfect pairing for this pie.


   

Making this pie was also a good chance for me to try my hand at "blind baking" a crust.  I have made loads of pies before, but it occurred to me that all of them were filled and then baked.  I have to be honest, it took me two tries until I got this crust right, and of course that meant I did my second trial well into the wee hours of the morning.  We have to be dedicated right?  Now I am one step closer to being a pro at crust-baking.


To make the glaze, I juiced additional mandarins and extracted juice from the strawberries, although in this recipe you could really use any fruit juice.  

The result?  Well beyond my expectations.  I think the subtle sprinkling of the citrus segments really gave an extra bright flavor and heightened the taste of the sweet, juicy strawberries.  And these strawberries were soooo good that eating this freshly made pie was like taking a bite out of a blue-sky, warm summer day.  Plus, it is ridiculously good-looking: the essence of summer in a beautiful package. 

Make it now, make it later, just pleaseeeee make it.  It will brighten any day, and make you happy.  




California Cutie Pie
All-butter pastry dough: 

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour 
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
1/4 tsp salt 
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (optional) 
3-5 tablespoons ice water

Filling and Glaze:
At least 4 cups strawberries, hulled (one large flat, I think it has 3 pints)
5 clementine oranges (or 6 if you want to use one for topping)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup total fruit juice (juice from clementines, plus additional juice from concentrate or other source)

For pastry dough, blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or pulse in a food processor (easiest) until most of mixture resembles coarse sand with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Add lemon peel and pulse a few more times. Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and or pulse until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, ½ tablespoon at a time, pulsing until incorporated, then test again. Dough will eventually be pliable but not too sticky. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and work with hands for a minute or two to evenly distribute butter. Press dough into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap at least 1 hour or overnight.

When ready to bake the crust, preheat oven to 425°F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a roughly 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate, fold edge overhangs for top of crust, and pierce crust all over with a fork. Cover entire crust and sides with large piece of aluminum foil, pressing down into curvature of pie center and sides; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake pie crust 20 minutes, then remove foil and pie weights; crust will be lightly golden. Bake for an additional 5-8 minutes until crust is browned and fully baked. Remove from oven, immediately brush with a thin layer of egg white, and cool on a rack. 

Meanwhile, make glaze and prepare the filling. For about 3/4 of the strawberries, cut into 1/4 inch slices and place in a medium bowl. For the other 1/4 (try to choose berries that are roughly the same size), slice in half lengthwise, and set aside. Segment the five clementines, cutting over a small bowl to catch all the juices, and put the segments in the medium bowl with the strawberries. To make the glaze, combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and mix, then add water, juice from clementines, and juice concentrate (or strawberry juice). Warm over medium heat until mixture starts to boil and thicken, and then boil for one additional minute; remove from heat and allow to cool completely.  

Assemble pie. Spread strawberry-clementine mixture evenly in pie crust. Pour 3/4 of the glaze over the filling and smooth. For halved strawberries, dip in remaining glaze and arrange decoratively in a circular pattern on the top. If desired, arrange halved clementines in a border.  

33 comments:

  1. Adorable and sounds delicious! This pie definitely earned it's name.

    I'm also in California and recently wrote a whole theme week on my blog about strawberries. They're so perfectly ripe right now! I wish I'd seen your pie earlier but I'll add it to my list of things to bake. Mastering homemade pie crust is already on there!
    -Stephanie

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  2. Oh this one is gorgeous, I simply adore strawberry anything, and especially tarts and pies like this one! so fresh, sweet, I wish I could have a slice of that pie!

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  3. The colors so pretty! :) Nice post.. I can definitely see a lot of cali sunshine in this pretty pie!

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  4. Oh I love everything about this pie - I have a counter overflowing with California Cuties and a fridge with strawberries - they would be very happy to be transformed into this gorgeous pie!

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  5. I love the color red and strawberries, delicious pie!

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  6. This pie is absolutey beautiful! I'm such a chocoholic when it comes to desserts but I can imagine this with a scoop of vanilla... mmm bliss

    Jessie

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  7. Cutie pie is right! I could eat this all the time. I love fruity desserts!

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  8. The "wee hours of the morning" comment makes me feel better. I always feel a bit bad that we eat dinner at 10 p.m. on the weekends because I'm too busy experimenting (and have zero grasp of how long things actually take to make)!
    PS: The pie looks beautiful :)

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  9. Such a cute cutie pie! The strawberries are gorgeous!

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  10. Beautiful pie and photographs, love all the ingredients and the name!

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  11. What a nice pie. love how you decorated...strawberries and clementine oranges...the pictures are awesome :-)

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  12. You amaze me. That is all.

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  13. Wow! This looks fa-bu-lous! We grew up in California and we LOVE strawberry pie. We get very excited when Marie Calendars begins selling strawberry pie because we know strawberry season is finally here, but your pie looks FAR superior to Marie Calendars. I've never made strawberry pie but I think I must give this a try before strawberry season ends. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Oooh the flowers are a nice touch! I am so excited about strawberry season! I'm gonna have to make a pie :)

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  15. Wow, how lovely. Sounds so good! I am allergic to strawberries, but I am sure this would be amazing with any fresh fruit:)

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  16. This falls under the heading of 'almost to lovely to eat!' - almost. I love strawberry pie and can't wait for the DIY berry picking season to start here. This Cutie Pie is putting me in the mood for summer treats!

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  17. I absolutely love this. This look so pretty.

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  18. I totally empathize with you; I love love berries and can't resist them. but making a good crust, now that is a challenge; looks like you mastered it! What I like is the fact that your pie is just crust and fruit; it makes it lighter and makes me enjoy both contrasting elements so much more.

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  19. What a gorgeous looking pie! Cute would be an understatement for this pie :)

    Too bad strawberries are scarce where I live at the moment otherwise this would be a good recipe to try.

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  20. That is so sunny and adorable!

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  21. This is just beautiful! I love the addition of the oranges, and the lemon peel in the crust.

    As for the yogurt cake--great minds think alike--I make it with raspberries as well! Pretty much any berry, for that matter.

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  22. OMG what an incredible pie!! a perfect presentation with the strawberries and oranges!! I only wish I could taste this masterpiece!

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  23. Terrific celebration of California strawberries. I read that Oxnard just had their strawberry festival.

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  24. Gorgeous dish. I don't know how many times you've made the crust but it looks fantastic. Your photos are great.

    Strawberry season ended here in Florida. I will give this a go when it picks up again.

    Cheers!

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  25. A gorgeous and cute strawberry pie! Can't wait to try it!

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  26. Love this pie... beautiful photo and strawberries and oranges??/ Priceless!!

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  27. This is one stunner of a pie. Your photos and the recipe itself are treasures. This is my first visit to your blog. I found you by chance and had intended only to say hello. I began reading your prior posts and stayed far longer than I had planned. I'll be back to visit as often as I can. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  28. I don't think I've ever had a strawberry pie but your pictures make me want to remedy that fast! Beautiful photos.

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  29. I love the name of this amazing pie! What a beauty!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  30. This pie looks amazing, the strawberries look mouth watering. :-)

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  31. Hello! These look AMAZING - I might have to give it a go with my garden strawberries. :-) [K]

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  32. I need to make this in my new yellow pie dish!

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