Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor — do not substitute. This dough will be moister than most standard pie doughs and will require more flour to roll out (up to 1/4 cup). In step 6, it is imperative that the cooked strawberry mixture measures 2 cups; any more, and the filling will be loose. If your fresh berries aren’t fully ripe, you may want to add extra sugar to taste in step 7.
- For the Pie Crust:
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
- 2 tablespoons vodka, cold
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- For the Filling:
- 2 pounds frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- Pinch table salt
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thin
- For the Topping:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
FOR THE CRUST:
Process 3/4 cups flour, salt and sugar together in a food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add the butter and shortening and process until a homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (the dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute the dough evenly around the processor blade. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty the mixture into a medium bowl.
Sprinkle vodka and water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on the dough until the dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the oven rack and heat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on a generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to a 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll the dough loosely around the rolling pin and unroll into a pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, ease the dough into plate by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the plate bottom with the other hand. Leave the overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute dough or press fork tines against dough to flatten it against the rim of pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pie pan from the refrigerator, line the crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Cool on wire rack.
FOR THE FILLING:
Cook frozen berries in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until the berries begin to release juice, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until thick and jamlike, about 25 minutes (mixture should measure 2 cups).
Combine the lemon juice, water and gelatin in a small bowl. Let stand until gelatin is softened and mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir the gelatin mixture, sugar and salt into the cooked berry mixture and return to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Fold fresh berries into the filling. Spread evenly in the pie shell and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
FOR THE TOPPING:
With an electric hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, add cream and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Serve the pie with the topping on the side.
Recipe reprinted by permission of America's Test Kitchen. All rights reserved.
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