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Strawberry Citrus Pie


Before Peach Melba in the summer, there's Strawberry Rhubarb in the spring, and before Strawberry Rhubarb there's Strawberry Citrus (because rhubarb hasn't hit the shelves in Boulder quite yet). I could neatly line up my all-time favorite pies in order of season, if you'd like, but I have a feeling you'll get the hang of it once I keep up with this blog. Nevertheless, spring is for rhubarb; but until those stalks of what I once thought were odd-colored celery show up for the taking, we have Strawberry Citrus to hold us over.

About the filling: It's magical. Ripe, sweet strawberries mingle with orange zest and fresh orange juice, and the result is a lovely sugary, tart pie with hefty slices of strawberry. There are no spices here, only salt, but I imagine a half teaspoon of nutmeg and cinnamon might do nicely.

About the crust: Oh yeah, the crust. I haven't blogged about my struggles with pie crust in the past (which I probably should), and occasionally I'll still run into a stubborn disc of dough and nearly lose my mind while rolling it out. This one caused no problems in the initial dough stages, not even in the rolling out phase -- instead, I completely failed in trying to decorate the top crust by cutting out small letters and placing the cut-out atop the pie. (What made matters worse was the fact that I was asked to make this pie by a co-worker who planned to bring it to a new client pitch, so the letters were kind of the whole point of making the pie.) Once I flopped the dough on top of the filling, the letters turned from a perfectly punny sentence to some piece of abstract art made from flour and water. (It was not fit for a pitch.) I decided to scrap the letter idea -- but only after I made an effort to fix the sentence and crimp the edges, literally and figuratively sealing the pie's fate. At that point I had no choice but to roll out another flimsy scrap of dough and patch it over the letters. Luckily for everyone, the pie turned out beautifully rustic. Lesson learned: Don't attempt a dainty design for a particularly lumpy pie. It's not going to work.

CONCLUSION: A lattice or a simple vented crust would do just fine here.

Ingredients:

All-butter pie crust, chilled

3 lbs strawberries, halved

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 tbsp. orange zest

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 egg, lightly beaten

Powdered sugar or turbinado sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil and set aside.

Take your chilled dough disc from the fridge and roll into an 11" circle. Carefully roll onto your rolling pin and unroll into 9" pie dish. Transfer to fridge to chill while you make the filling.

In a large bowl, combine strawberries, sugars, vanilla extract, cornstarch, salt, orange juice and orange zest and mix until combined. Spoon filling into pie dish and put back in the fridge while you unroll the top crust.

Take your second chilled dough disc from the fridge and roll into an 10" circle. Cut into strips for a lattice, if you like, or unroll onto filling and cut steam vents. Fold top crust under bottom crust, tuck into pie dish, and crimp edges decoratively.

Lightly whisk egg with cream and use a pastry brush to add egg wash all over the top crust. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar before baking, or sprinkle with powdered sugar after the pie bakes and cools.

Place the pie on your cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, and bake the pie for 55 - 60 minutes, until the filling is bubbling in the center and the crust is a deep golden brown. I know 425 seems really hot for an hour, but the pie bakes up beautifully and the filling is just done. If you think the crust is baking too quickly, turn down the heat to 375 after 20 - 25 minutes and line the crust with foil.


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