Recipe or Method? The answer is YES.
Fresh fruit pies are some of the most delicious desserts on the planet. They’re also really nice to look at, as long as you look FAST because they’re gone in no time.
Today, I’m making strawberry pies, but this method works for many different types of fruit.
The secret of fresh fruit pies is that the fruit isn’t cooked, so it retains its vivid colors and firm shape.
Our favorite fresh fruit pies are strawberry, peach, blueberry, and blackberry…and frequently a combination of both peach and one of the types of berries. Usually, our first fresh fruit pies of the season are strawberry pies and often, it’s just in time for my oldest son’s birthday.
It really helps to start early in the day because it’s important that the pie have time to “set up” in the fridge before you serve it.
Crust: Here’s my true confession. Those crusts in the box are wonderful. Perfect. I don’t ever make pie crust from scratch because I hate the counter clean-up afterwards. Yes, I’m a pie crust cheater; we all have our character flaws.
So….I put the crust in a pie plate, use a fork to poke hundreds of holes into it, and then bake it at 375 degrees until it’s golden brown. The fork holes are really important; the crust has a tendency to shrink and slide down the sides of the pie plate while it’s in the oven. The fork pokes make it all stay nicely in place.
And a word about pans. It’s possible to make pies in metal pans. It might even be preferable to make pies in aluminum pie plates if you want to bring the pie somewhere and not deal with a pan to take home after. In general, however, heavy ceramic or glass pyrex pie plates are the BEST.
If you’re making peach pie, blanch the peaches and remove the skin. (Blanching fruit involves putting it into a pan of boiling water for 20 seconds and then transferring it into a bowl of cold water. This loosens the skin and makes it very easy to peel.) Cut the peaches into slices. For berries, clean any leaves or bugs out of them. Wash strawberries gently and let drain. Slice extra large strawberries into bite-sized pieces.
Making the glace’: for each pie you’re making, take a cup of fruit (I always use the ugliest, least ripe, or otherwise less desireable pieces to make the glace’) and add it to a cup of water in a saucepan. Cook over a medium burner, mashing with a potato masher, until the fruit is soft and nearly pureed. Add a 1/2 c. sugar per pie and simmer for about ten minutes.
Stir 3 T. cornstarch (per pie) into 2/3 c. of cold water (per pie). Bring the fruit, sugar, and water mixture to a boil and slowly stir in the cornstarch/water mixture. Cook until clear and thickened. Remove from burner. Do not overcook the cornstarch because it will eventually break down and become thin again if it’s cooked too long.
The Magic Ingredient: Fresh fruit pies leap from delicious to AMAZING when you add a magic ingredient. Cream together 4 ounces of cream cheese and 1/4 c. powdered sugar. Spread this mixture in the bottom of the baked pie shell. If the cream cheese is really stiff, I sometimes microwave it for 30 seconds to soften it. It’s important not to tear up the pie shell when you spread it.
Pour the cooling glace’ over the sliced fruit and mix together. Fill the pie shell with this and refrigerate. One thing that I love to do when I’m using peaches is to leave a well in the center of the pie and heap blueberries or blackberries in the center. This makes the pie absolutely gorgeous.
You can make this fruit pie with any kind of fruit. In general, you want one cup of fruit per pie in the glace’ mix. Keep in mind that the fruit never cooks, so this won’t work well with a fruit like apples. I have, on occasion, layered bananas on the bottom of peach or strawberry pies.
If the pie doesn’t set up completely, it will still taste delicious, but it won’t look as pleasing on the plate.
This pie is also excellent for breakfast. And with the Magic Ingredient, it’s not much different than having a bagel and cream cheese with a piece of fruit. (cough, cough.)