This year’s strawberry season has been so good and so long. Ample sunshine and an uncharacteristically warm spring made the berries ripen earlier than usual and brought about very good crops, even in areas that aren’t normally considered ‘strawberry-friendly’.
To get hands-on experience of the harvest, we went to a self-pick farm about an hour drive from our suburban home in the north of Slovakia. These pick-your-own strawberry farms, as they’re called in English, are getting very popular with Slovaks.
During the peak season in May and June, most of the farms are open from early morning till late evening 7 days a week. There’s no entrance fee, you can eat as much as you want in the fields, and you only pay for what you take away. No wonder it’s a favourite pastime activity for families.
From our Saturday trip to the farm, we brought home two crates of sweet crimson red berries, which filled our kitchen with irresistible fragrance while I was making them into jam, frozen strawberry mash, and a simple yet flavourful pie.
For the recipe below I used a shallow pizza dish of 31cm in diametre, but the amounts of ingredients will work for a standard pie plate as well, which is smaller but deeper.
Delicate Strawberry Pie
- 350 g pastry flour
- 150 g cold shortening or margarine
- 70 g cold butter
- 5 tablespoons cold water
- a pinch of salt
- 500 g strawberries
- sugar to taste
- Put the flour and the salt in a medium bowl. Add the shortening/margarine and butter cut into cubes. Work together until crumbly.
- Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, and knead gently until the mixture comes together.
- Cover with a dishtowel and put in the fridge for an hour.
- Meanwhile, remove the stalks from the strawberries and wash them. Drain on a sieve or a colander, and cut the berries in halves if you like.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and transfer onto a floured surface. Dust your hands and the dough with flour and flatten it into a disc. Roll the dough out into a circle about 2 cm larger than your pie dish.
- To transfer the dough into the dish, dust it lightly and fold in half. Gently place the dough into the dish, unfold and straighten. Don’t worry if the dough cracks or tears, just press it gently back together with your fingers. Fill up with the strawberries and sugar to taste.
- Trim off the overhanging edges with a knife and work them together. Roll out again and cut into strips of different lengths according to how you want to arrange them on the pie top.
- Put in the oven and bake at 180ºC for about 20 minutes, or until the pie crust turns golden brown. Let cool down, dust with sugar if you prefer, and cut to serve.
With strawberries hand-picked at their freshest, this delicate pie brings delightful flavours and a pleasant aroma to your Sunday breakfast table. It also makes for a refreshing summer dessert.