Saturday, April 9, 2016

Cream of Strawberry Pie: You're welcome!

We at A Book of Cookrye would like to present a backup recipe! When we made the pudding boiled in a T-shirt, we thought it unwise to have guests over and serve them such a thing and have nothing with a better guarantee of deliciousness. And so, we found this!
The [Los Angeles] Times Cook Book, no. 2, ca. 1905

Scans like that make one appreciate digital scanners over microfiche, don't they?
I must admit that out of personal prejudice, I was wary of making a recipe from a Los Angeles book. I mean, that's the town that gave us Michael Bay and traffic jams. Is it wise to eat like they do? Would I feel a sudden urge to turn my hair blonde and get my teeth whitened?

Cream of Strawberry Pie
1 pie crust (regular or puff paste) in a deep pan, unbaked
1 c cream
½ tsp vanilla
1 c powdered sugar, divided
1 box strawberries

Take the scrap dough from making the pie crust and roll it out not quite as thin as usual- about ½" or so. Cut into six strips a little less than half as long as the pie is wide. Bake them and the pie crust until done.
Wash and hull the strawberries, then crush them. Mix in ½ c powdered sugar, cover tightly, and set aside.
Beat the cream until it starts to thicken, then add the remaining powdered sugar. Whip until thick, then add the vanilla and strawberries. Mix and pour into the cooled crust (heat will deflate the cream- if the crust is still warm, put the cream in the refrigerator and let it wait). Lay the baked strips on top. If you leave it in the refrigerator for an hour or so, the crust will absorb the juices. If you prefer a crisp crust, put the cream in right before you serve.

Note: If you're not keeping to strict period-correctness standards, this is delicious frozen. Slice it up before putting it in the freezer (even though it won't make much visible difference), otherwise you'll be hacking through frozen pie crust. Also, be sure to crush the strawberries very well- any big pieces will turn into ice rocks.

The Los Angeles Times, The Times Cook Book, no. 2, ca. 1905 (contributor: Mrs. J Hamilton)

The original recipe says "A most delicious pie and easily and quickly prepared." Given that early-1900's cooks had much lower standards for an easy recipe, would we in the next millennium still think it was either quick or easy? (Side note: the only reason I can spell millennium on the first attempt is because I had to do a paper on modern intellectual property law and the DMCA came up a lot in the last third of it.)
One box of strawberries!

So far, the recipe's claim that it was easy was correct. Look at our spectacularly un-torn pie crust!

No, really look at it.

I'm beginning to think my biggest mistake in pie crusts all this time was using shortening. For reasons I cannot define, the ones I make from butter never end up being patch jobs. Look at it! It didn't fall apart, not even when I attempted to decoratively notch it!

However, before I let myself get too proud of my pie abilities, I should point out that I didn't anchor it over the pan, causing it to collapse while baking.
Once it's filled with strawberries and cream, hopefully no one will care.

I like how the recipe makes use of the scraps you were going to throw away. Since we weren't too obsessed with perfectly-shaped pie ornamentation, we just cut up what fell off the pie pan from trimming the crust.

Since it's not so cold out that we wanted the extra heat, we baked the crust strips and the pie crust at the same time. However, we discovered that not only did the strips bake faster, but the ones that weren't directly under the pie pan (which were in the back of the oven where we wouldn't notice them) were a bit well-done by the time the rest were baked.

Enough crust. Let's move on to putting the strawberries and the cream into the cream of strawberry pie!
I hope this is how we were supposed to crush them.

Having taken the liberty of eating some of them, I felt kind of bad turning these strawberries into a pulp. They were really good. Like, the kind you would just put in a bowl and serve out because they don't need any help.

In-season strawberries are a cheap rarity. There are so many of them for maybe three weeks that the grocery can barely give them away fast enough, then suddenly they're gone. Since recipes like this don't cover up the bitter and bland taste of out-of-season ones, this would only be "a most delicious pie" (original recipe's words) for a short time of the year.

I wasn't sure why the recipe said to cover the strawberry pulp until gnats started orbiting the bowl.

And now, the super decadent part of this recipe! This isn't just whipped cream, this is vanilla whipped cream!
That brown splotch makes it classy.

You know this pie's going to be good when you get to say "And now we add the fresh strawberries to the vanilla whipped cream."

As a minor detour, the strawberry juice that stuck to the waxed paper that had covered it was utterly delicious.

All right, let's have a look at the beautiful filling of fresh strawberries and vanilla whipped cream ready to go into the pie pan!
For something with no artificial coloring, this looks really unnatural.

And now, the pie was ready to go into the crust! Which... doesn't look quite as bad as we thought it would when we watched it bake. Heck, most of those little folded-down triangles managed to puff out a little.

What was the point of putting it in a pie? Sure, there was absolutely nothing in this that could possibly make it taste bad, but it was just whipped goop.  On the hopes that spending time in the refrigerator like the recipe says would somehow cause it to set, we covered it and let it get cold.

Would you like to see how nice and easily-sliced it turned after chilling for an hour or two?
"I think you should cut it with a spoon."

It's a pretty shade of pink and all, but this pie does not look good on a plate. The sad heap of pink goopiness looks like those cheap from-a-box pudding mixes that may or may not contain actual fruit.

However, as we repeatedly told ourselves as we made it, there's absolutely nothing in this pie that can possibly make it taste bad. Even describing the recipe makes it sound divoon: "You put fresh strawberries into vanilla whipped cream." And indeed, it was really good. It tastes like a not-fake version of strawberry yogurt. And, as the recipe claims, it really was quick and easy. But, there's one thing we have in the 21st century that makes this pie perfect: a freezer.
Heck yes.


  1. Julia Child was from California (indeed her accent is an old Pasadena CA accent) and she never bleacher her hair or whitened her teeth...

    1. Maybe I've just read too many novels featuring characters disenchanted with Los Angeles.

  2. This is basically strawberry fool in a pie crust, so your instinct to serve it without the pie crust wasn't a bad one! That said, my roommate prefers his fool with crackers (or...whatever you call SkinnyPop's mini popcorn cakes, if they're not crackers, they're still DELICIOUS), so maybe a future iteration of this would work well as a sort of accompaniment to your cheesecake dip. Make the strawberry filling, make the pie crust, but slice the whole pie crust into little strips, bake as crackers, and dip. :)

    1. That actually sounds really good! I can see it served in a nice glass bowl which would be easier than attempting to hand out pie "slices" that aren't.