Stephanie Young is an innovation leader at Hallmark and a baker who spends her free time making the lives of everyone around her more delicious. This pie expert has some tips for us today!
Crust is everything. I love pie crust. Since I was a kid, I have been known to lick pie pans to get the last crumb…that’s just the kind of girl I am.
The first pie I made as a grown-up cook was a chocolate mousse pie. It wasn’t perfect. The mousse was runny. The crust was crumbly. But baking that one pie awakened in me a deep, true love for making pies and—more importantly—my own pie crust.
After my happy mousse experience, I cooked up a pie every week. As our waist-lines expanded, I started to give them away to people I knew for any reason at all.
Without even thinking about it, I used my crust to decorate the tops of the pies too. I made pie dough cookies especially for each person getting a pie. I even added them to pies that didn’t call for a top crust.
Why? My pie was an act of love from me to the person receiving it. Adding cookie-cutter bird shapes for an expectant mother or cutting the word M-O-M out of dough for a Mother’s Day pie was so worth it. The way their faces lit up when they saw their design matched the way my heart felt when I was making it.
The most amazing thing is that putting love into your food takes no extra time or supplies. Whether the food you’re making comes from a box, from scratch, or from your grandma’s recipe—love is love. All it takes is thoughtfulness, or piefulness, in my case.
So the next time you’re cooking up a treat for someone, think about why you’re cooking it for them and tuck that love inside. I promise they’ll taste it in the crumbs.
Stephanie’s Mother’s Day Strawberry Pie Recipe
Pie dough for one 9-in. double-crust pie (If frozen, thaw according to packaging, but keep your thawed dough in the refrigerator while creating the filling. If you want to make it from scratch, try this crust from Stephanie’s Ginger Pumpkin Pie or this Cream Cheese Pie Crust.)
1 cup sugar
4 heaping Tbsp. flour for filling
1/2 cup water
4 cups of sliced strawberries
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. milk for brushing
Extra flour for work surface
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a large saucepan, combine the sliced strawberries, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir until berries are coated with sugary goodness.
- Add the water then squeeze the lemon juice all over the berries. (Watch out for lemon seeds!)
- Stir it all up again and turn the burner on low. Stir often until the berry mixture barely bubbles. Don’t let it boil!
- When the mixture has thickened to a syrupy consistency, remove from the heat and set aside.
- Sprinkle flour on a clean counter or work surface. Roll out enough dough for the bottom piecrust and place it in the pan.
- Roll out the rest of the dough for the top crust decoration. Use your cookie cutters to make 12-15 cookies to decorate the top—cut your own letters or designs if you like! Set those aside.
- Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and add the filling.
- Cut the unsalted butter into four chunks, placing the chunks in different sections of the pie.
- Decorate the top of the pie with your crust cookies. Think about where to place them before setting them on the filling. Have fun stacking them, or overlapping them.
- Once the pie is decorated, brush a little milk onto each cookie.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles.
- Cool before serving.
Pie Dough Pro Tips
Pie crust is notoriously finicky. Here are some tips for better pie-crust making.
- Make sure all refrigerated ingredients (like butter, shortening, and cream) are well-chilled before use.
- Watch your measurements! Avoid total dough failure by paying close attention to your tablespoons and cups.
- Use your fingers to mix shortening or butter into the dough. You will get a better feel for if it’s truly incorporated into the flour.
- Don’t add all your liquid at once. Add a little, blend it into the flour and then add a little more. Baby steps with your liquids will help you avoid tough or soggy dough.
- All pie dough is happier if it’s cold. While your making your filling, stick the dough in the freezer to give it a good chill!