chef Roxana Jullapat holds her vintage strawberry pie.
time of year, I really like to make things that donít
require a lot of oven time. Thereís so much great fruit
around, you donít need to do much to show it off,"
says pastry chef Roxana Jullapat. Sheís just arrived at
the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen, a box of strawberries
tucked under her arm. The tender berries, from Harryís
Berries at the Santa Monica farmers market, are a vibrant
shade of red; their fragrance fills the kitchen.
a perfect, easy pie dough. Ready when you need it," she
says, gathering a few simple ingredients to make the dough
ó flour, salt and sugar ó and combining them in a large
bowl. Salt adds flavor, she explains; sugar adds tenderness
but also color as the crust bakes.
most crucial thing is the butter. Keep it cold,"
Jullapat stresses as she walks over to the refrigerator to
retrieve a couple of sticks. She cuts the butter into small
cubes, then tosses them into the bowl, coating each piece.
"This helps to keep the pieces from sticking together
as theyíre worked."
breaks the butter into the mixture using her fingertips.
Where many recipes call for cutting the butter down to
pea-sized pieces, Jullapat likes a mixture of sizes, though
nothing too big. "Your pie dough should never be
uniform. There should be an unevenness to it. Donít
overwork it." She then forms a well in the center of
the mixture, to which she adds a little ice water, using
open hands to mix the dough until a handful clumps together.
the dough ó this step is important ó at least 30 minutes
and up to a couple of days. Or freeze it for up to two
weeks. This way "you can keep ahead on your pie
dough," Jullapat says, smiling. "See the marbling
and striping?" Jullapat asks after the dough is
chilled. "This indicates the butter was not overworked
into the dough. You want to see this."
few rolls, Jullapat moves the dough slightly, checking to
make sure it doesnít stick. Once itís thin enough,
Jullapat cuts the dough, using an inverted pie tin as a
guide and cutting about 1 inch around the outer rim. To fit
the dough in the tin, she rolls the circle over the rolling
pin, then unwraps it over the pan, trims the excess and
crimps the edges. "See how quickly Iím working? The
dough gets soft so quickly." Sheíll chill the dough
again for an hour before baking the crust.
most important thing Iím going to do today: blind
baking," explains Jullapat, greasing the dough and
lining it with a parchment circle before weighting the shell
with dried beans. She bakes the shell until it is golden and
such great strawberries, simply stem and halve them."
She uses some of the berries to make a quick jam, which she
tosses with the berries in a large bowl. The gelatin in the
jam will hold the berries together.
gently packs the berries by the handful into the shell.
"Make sure every nook and cranny is filled."
Jullapat smiles as she slices into the pie. "So, thatís
it! Itís the easiest, quickest pie of the summer."
hour, plus chilling time. Serves 8
teaspoon kosher salt
tablespoon granulated sugar
(2 sticks) cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
cup ice water, more if needed
a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the
butter cubes and toss them in the flour to coat. Using your
fingertips, progressively separate the butter into smaller
pieces while tossing them back into the dry ingredients
until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Make a well in the center and drizzle over 4 tablespoons of
water. If too dry, add additional water, a tablespoon at a
time. Combine and shape into a ball. Flatten into a disk,
wrap with plastic film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to shape the pie shell, flour a working surface
generously and roll the dough with a rolling pin until itís
very thin ó about 1/4 inch thick. Cut a dough circle large
enough to fit into a 9-inch pie pan ó donít forget to
account for an extra half inch of dough to crimp a
decorative edge. Lightly coat the pie tin with nonstick
spray and lay the dough circle inside the tin. Gather the
excess dough around the edges and crimp as desired.
Refrigerate the pie shell for at least one hour or up to two
an oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to
350 degrees. To pre-bake the pie shell, coat it lightly with
nonstick spray, line the bottom with a circle of parchment
paper and fill it with dried beans or rice to weigh down the
dough and prevent it from puffing while in the oven. Bake
for 30 minutes, carefully lift the parchment circle to
remove the beans and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes
or until itís a deep golden brown. Take out of the oven
and set aside to cool completely.
tablespoons port wine, creme de cassis or framboise
teaspoons gelatin powder
While the pie shell is baking, start working on the
strawberry sauce. Puree 2 cups of the strawberries in a
blender until completely liquefied. Add the port, gelatin
powder, salt and cornstarch, and blend for another minute.
sugar in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot and add about
1/2 cup of water just to moisten the sugar. Split the
vanilla bean lengthwise with a pairing knife, scrape out the
pulp with the back of the knife, and put the pulp and the
pod into the pot. Cook over high heat without stirring until
the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and
let it reduce until it resembles a thick syrup. Add the
strawberry puree and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes
while stirring constantly; the mixture will be thick.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool to room
Gently toss the rest of the strawberries with the cooled
strawberry mixture until theyíre all evenly covered. Add
the strawberry filling in the prepared shell so it makes a
mound in the middle, packing it lightly with your hand so
the strawberries stick together. Refrigerate until ready to