Just so you know, for the future — if the strawberries at the farmer’s market look fantastic, buy them. Even if you don’t have a plan to use them. Because later you might decide that you do, in fact, have a plan. Then, in a fantastically tragic fashion, you’ll long for those gorgeous farmer’s market strawberries. Suddenly the hard, sad little strawberries at the grocery store (delicious as they might be) just won’t be good enough. You’ll have to have them fresh from the vine. But it’s hot and humid and you don’t particularly want to pick them yourself.
So what’s a girl to do but drive from county to county in search of fresh farm strawberries on a late Sunday afternoon when they’re mostly sold out? Nothing, I tell you… there was no other option.
Nonetheless, I think even Mark would agree that the journey was worth the reward… you know, now that he can look back and laugh.
For the Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup or less ice water
For the Filling:
4 pints (about 3 pounds) fresh strawberries, gently rinsed and dried, hulled
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ teaspoons Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes (the pink box)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the Topping:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
Add ice water drop by drop while machine is running (or you are mixing)— just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not mix longer than 30 seconds.
Roll dough out on a piece of plastic wrap. Press down slightly. Chill for at least one hour.
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough loosely around a rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with 1 hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
Trim overhang to ½ inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute dough or press tines of fork against dough to flatten against rim of pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Remove pie plate from refrigerator and use a fork to prick the bottom of the dough. Line the crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weight, rotate plate, and bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes, until crust is golden brown and crisp. Let cool to room temperature.
Make the Filling:
Select 6 ounces misshapen, underripe, or otherwise unattractive berries, halving those that are large; you should have about 1½ cups. In a food processor, process the berries to a smooth puree, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in the berry puree, making sure to scrape the corners of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, and bring to a full boil. Boil, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent scorching, for 2 minutes to ensure that the cornstarch is fully cooked (mixture will appear frothy when it first reaches a boil, then will darken and thicken with further cooking). Transfer to a large bowl and stir in lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, pick over the remaining berries and measure out 2 pounds of the most attractive ones; halve only extra-large berries. Add the berries to the bowl with the glaze and fold gently with a rubber spatula until the berries are evenly coated. Scoop the berries into the pie shell, piling into a mound. If any cut sides face up on top, turn them face down. If necessary, rearrange the berries so that holes are filled and the mound looks attractive. Refrigerate pie until chilled, about 2 hours. Serve within 5 hours of chilling.
Make the Topping:
Using an electric mixer, whip marscarpone with cream and sugar until thick like firmly whipped cream. Add vanilla. Cover and chill until needed, up to 2 days. (Remove from fridge and bring to room temperature just before serving, optional).