Here’s what I really think about strawberry pies. They are one of the best fruit pies, but they don’t deserve the best $10 strawberries that you find at the farmers market during the summertime. Those sweet-as-sugar $10 strawberries are for eating and eating only. They don’t need any extra sugar or any heat applied to them. The strawberries from the grocery store in the clamshells on the other hand (especially if you’re buying them out of season in February), are perfect for pie. The grocery store berries aren’t that sweet but when you add brown and white sugars, a bit of vanilla, and let it cook down inside a pie, the best parts of the berry are brought out of the otherwise bland berry. If you have too many good strawberries from the farmers market that you need to use up, more than you can eat, feel free to use them for pie. You might not need as much sugar as you would with regular strawberries because of the higher sugar content naturally in the berries. I like to taste the filling before I add it to the pie tin to bake. I also added some in nectarines for an extra layer of flavour and for the pie to scream ‘I’m a summer pie, baby!’
Thank you Williams Sonoma Canada for making this summertime pie with me!
Let’s talk about pie dough. I used to think pie dough was intimidating to make. How large should the butter pieces be? How much water is too much water? Why does the water have to be ice cold? A classic pie dough is made of ingredients you probably have already: flour, butter, water, a bit of sugar and salt (and sometimes a wee bit of vinegar). It comes together quickly and easily and I promise once you’ve made pie dough, you will never pie the premade tubes from the store again (there’s usually no butter in those!). There are two important things to keep in mind when working with pie dough — don’t overwork it and keep it cold. I like to roll out my pie dough on a marble surface like this one from Williams Sonoma Canada, which keeps the dough chilled much longer.
My favourite part about making pie is what I get to do with the lattice top. Rarely will I make a plain lattice — oftentimes, you will see a few braids and cut-outs that suggest what’s inside the pie. What I love most about cut-outs is that it hides eliminated the need for a perfectly crimped edge, something I am terrible at making. For this strawberry nectarine pie, I used these Williams Sonoma Summer Berry Pie Punches. They are extremely easy to use and add so much to any pie lattice. When I make a more elaborate pie lattice top, I’ll make 1.5x my normal pie dough recipe, so I have more dough to play with.
Pie dough and pie filling are extremely versatile. Instead of making a full 9-inch pie, you can easily use the same pie dough to make hand pies, which to me are the ideal shareable picnic dessert. You would simple roll out the pie dough as you would if you’re making a full pie, and then use large, round cookie cutters to stamp out the cut-outs. Instead of putting the uncooked fruit filling into hand pies, I like to cook them down over the stove until it reaches a jammy consistency and allow the jam to cool before filling the hand pies. Hand pies can be decorated with berry stamps as well! Hand pies take around 25 – 30 minutes to bake, much less than a full pie!
Strawberry Nectarine Pie
All-Butter Pie Crust
- 300 g (2 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
- 13 g (1 tbsp) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 227 g (1 cup) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water
- 110 g (1/2 cup) ice cubes
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar , or vinegar of choice
- 1 large egg
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) whole milk
Strawberry Nectarine Filling
- 580 g (4 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
- 275 g (2 cups) fresh nectarines, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
- 133 g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar, *see note
- 67 g (1/3 cup) brown sugar, packed
- 56 g (1/3 cup and 2 tbsp) cornstarch
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
All-Butter Pie Crust
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Add the butter. With a pastry cutter or a fork, quickly cut the butter into the flour mixture until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay).
- In a large measuring cup or a small bowl, combine the water, ice, and vinegar. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons (15 ml) of the ice-water mixture over the flour mixture and mix with a spatula until the water is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice-water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) at a time. Using the spatula or your hands, mix until the dough comes together in a ball with some dry, shaggy bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch the dough with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of the ice-water mixture, if necessary, to combine.
- Divide the dough into 2 portions (3 portions if making extra dough for decorative pie lattice). Shape each portion of dough into a flat disk, wrap each disk in plastic, and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour (or overnight), to give the dough time to rest.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Strawberry Nectarine Filling
- In a large bowl, stir together the strawberries, nectarines, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Allow the mixture to rest for at least 15 minutes while you roll out the dough.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk of the dough to create an 10 1⁄2-inch circle. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Roll out the second disk of dough to create an 10-inch circle.
- To prepare the lattice, cut the second rolled-out disk of pie dough into 1⁄2- to 1-inch wide strips, depending on how wide you want the lattice pieces to be. Set these strips aside. To create a braided strip, cut three 1⁄4-inch strips of dough and braid as you would braid hair, pinching all three strips at the top and continuing to overlap the middle strip with the exterior strips.
- Transfer the strawberry-nectarine filling to the pie dish (straining out the juices that have released).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk to create an egg wash. Set the egg wash aside.
- To assemble the lattice, place the longest strip of pie dough down the middle of the filled pie. Place the other strips of pie dough on both sides of the center strip, leaving a ½-inch gap between each strip, until you reach the edge of the pie. To create the woven lattice, lift up every other strip on the pie to the halfway mark. Place a new strip of pie dough perpendicular to the pieces already there. Take the pieces that were lifted up and place them over the new perpendicular piece. Repeat these steps with the pieces of dough that are now under the perpendicular piece. Repeat until you reach the edge of the pie and each piece of dough is in an over-under-over pattern.
- Trim any pie dough hanging over the edges of the pie dish. Using the tines of a fork, press down on the perimeter of the pie, combining the top and bottom crusts at the edges.
- Roll out third disc of pie dough. Using a cookie cutter or stamp of your choice, cut out shapes from the pie dough. With a pastry brush or your fingers, brush a thin layer of the egg wash onto the backside of each cut-out before arranging it on the lattice pie top. Egg wash the top of the pie.
- Place the pie on a large-rimmed baking sheet to catch anyjuices that might bubble over. Bake the pie on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.Reduce the oven’s temperature to 350F and bake the pie for 35 to 45 minutes, oruntil the crust is golden brown and the filling begins to bubble through thelattice or vents. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for about 3 hours.