Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Classic Strawberry Cream Pie

Happy Pi Day (and Einstein's birthday)! What better way to pay homage to the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter than baking a round dessert that just happens to be a homophone of π ??

I LOVE classic DESSERT cookbooks; made before a time when Jell-O and Cool-Whip and shortcuts infiltrated dessert recipes, these dishes were pretty much always made entirely from scratch, and the flavors speak for themselves. 

Note: I DO NOT love classic MEAL cookbooks, as there are some pretty funky dishes in them - click HERE to see what I'm talking about. NO BUENO.

One of my absolute favorite dessert cookbooks is my Better Homes & Gardens Dessert Cook Book, printed in 1960 and long out-of-print. I scored my copy at the thrift store for 59 cents. And, in true 1960s form, the descriptions are hip and cheeky, and the "color" photographs all have that gross vintage hue/tint to them that makes the meals look entirely inedible and unappetizing.

That being said, the second I saw their strawberry cream pie on page 77, I KNEW I had to make it. I scored some great looking strawberries at the local farmer's market, and that was all I needed to get my butt in the kitchen and make a pie. 

Classic Strawberry Cream Pie

Cream Filling: 
½ cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 cups milk
1 egg, room temperature & lightly beaten
½ cup heavy cream, whipped
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 9" BAKED pastry shell (I used a frozen deep-dish pie crust)
1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds, toasted (I left these out since I didn't have any)
2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
Red food coloring (I left this out; it's totally weird and unnecessary)

Prepare the Cream Filling: Mix together sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt. Gradually stir in milk.

Stirring constantly, bring to a boil; reduce heat and stir until thickened. Stir ¼ mixture into egg to temper; return to remaining hot custard.

Increase heat and bring just to a boil, stirring constantly. Cool, then chill.

Beat well; fold in whipped cream and vanilla.

Prepare Pie: Fill the baked and cooled pie shell with the slivered almonds (which I omitted). Top with the chilled cream filling.

Halve 2 cups of the strawberries and pile atop the filling, cut-side down.

Crush the remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries; add water. Cook for 2 minutes, press through a sieve. Combine the sugar and cornstarch, then gradually stir in the sieved strawberry juice.

 Cook and stir until thickened and no longer cloudy. Tint with food coloring if desired (I didn't). Cool glaze slightly, then pour over halved strawberries. Chill until ready to serve.


  1. I love the Gallery of Regrettable Food, and I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who is fascinated by vintage cookbooks and their disturbing, super-saturated, color photography.

  2. LBC, isn't the Gallery great?? I secretly DO love seeing the gross photography in old cookbooks while junking/thrifting - I WOULD buy some of the books strictly for laughs if I didn't already have a bookshelf bursting at the seams with cookbooks!!