Introduction: American Pie
Here's a red, white and blue pie with Stars and Stripes to help you celebrate the Fourth of July. It's made with fresh strawberries and blueberries -- a real summer treat!
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Step 1: Prepare the Filling
Start with about two cups each of fresh strawberries and blueberries. Wash and slice the strawberries. Wash the blueberries and pick off any stems you find. To each bowl of fruit add one half to three quarters of a cup of sugar. This is a matter of taste, but it also depends on how ripe (sweet) the fruit is. Add the smaller amount, wait a few minutes for the sugar to start drawing the juice out of the fruit and then taste it to see if it needs more. Next add to each bowl a tablespoon of corn starch, the juice of a quarter of a lemon, and a tablespoon of melted butter. (The butter will interact with the cornstarch to thicken the berry juice during baking-- just like flour thickens a roux.)
Step 2: Filling the Pie Shell
Make a double recipe of pie crust dough.* Divide the dough in half and roll out one portion into a circle that is slightly larger than your pie dish. I use an extra large cutting board (reserved just for baking), a dough scraper and plenty of flour to prevent sticking. If you don't have a giant cutting board, you can use a clean cotton or linen towel to roll the dough out on.
Place the circle of dough into the pan, pressing it in place and then trim any excess from the edges of the pan. I use a deep, ceramic pie plate because I like lots of filling and the ceramic keeps the crust from getting soggy. Add the filling to the dish, alternating between sections of strawberries and sections of blueberries.
* There are lots of recipes and instructions for pie dough. I like this one:
Sift together two cups of flour, a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar. Add, in small pieces, a 1/3 cup of butter (for great taste) and 1/3 cup of shortening (for great texture). Use a pastry cutter to mix the fat and the flour together until all the lumps are pea-sized. Add up to 1/3 cup of cold water, a teaspoon at a time, gently squeezing the mixture (never kneading!) until it holds together in a ball. Chill for half an hour.
Step 3: Decorating the Top of the Pie
Roll out the second half of the pie dough into an oblong shape. Use a ruler and a paring knife to cut the oblong into 10 long strips, about 1/2 inch wide. Weave 5 of them across the top of the pie to make a five pointed star. Add the other 5 strips next to the first five.
Use the remaining scraps of dough to make five little stars. To make a star, first cut a pentagon, then cut out a little notch from each side of the pentagon. They don't have to be perfect -- they look fine if they're a little crooked.
As a final flourish, take a fork and use the tines to mash down the edge of the pie crust all around the edge of the dish.
Step 4: Bake and Enjoy!
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 45-50 minutes, until done. Wait for the pie to cool. Then serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
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