Strawberries don't have to work very hard to earn a place as one of our favorite berries of summer. They are the first to arrive, tend to be the most affordable, and really know how to work the spotlight with very little help. So when you're ready to take your fresh munching to the next level, make this slab pie dreamed up by cookbook author Yossy Arefi.
The berries are nestled in a tender buttermilk crust that stretches into a 10x15-inch pan, which means this recipe easily serves 12 to 15 of your hungriest friends. And while it can feel a bit sad to cover this trove of berries, take comfort in the fact that the sugar-crusted pie crust polka-dots let a bit of this strawberry glory still shine through.
Strawberry Slab Pie
For the crust:
5 cups (640 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
2 cups (450 grams) cold, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
6 to 9 ounces (175 to 265 milliliters) cold, well-shaken buttermilk
For the filling:
3 1/2 pounds (1575 grams) strawberries
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (50 grams) cornstarch
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large egg
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Make the crust: Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl.
Working quickly, add the butter to the flour and toss to coat. Using your fingertips or the palms of your hands, press each piece of butter into a flat sheet. Keep tossing the butter in the flour as you go to ensure that each butter piece is coated with flour. The idea is to create flat, thin shards of butter that range from about the size of a dime to about the size of a quarter. If at any time the butter seems warm or soft, briefly refrigerate the whole bowl.
Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the buttermilk over the flour mixture. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to stir the buttermilk into the flour until just combined. If the dough seems dry, add more buttermilk a couple teaspoons at a time. You have added enough buttermilk when you can pick up a handful of the dough and easily squeeze it together without it falling apart.
Gently press the dough together into one piece. Cut the dough into 2 pieces, making one slightly larger than the other. The larger piece will be the base of the pie, the smaller piece will be the top.
Wrap each piece of dough separately in plastic wrap and press it into a rectangle. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Lightly flour a work surface. Roll the larger piece of dough into a rectangle measuring roughly 12 by 17 inches. Transfer it to a 10x15-inch jellyroll pan and gently press the dough into the pan; trim the edges evenly. If necessary, repair any cracks or tears in the dough, then fold the edges under and crimp them into a decorative pattern. Refrigerate while you prepare the other crust and the filling.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the second piece of dough 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick and use a round cookie or biscuit cutter (or multiple-sized cutters) to cut the dough into rounds. Transfer the rounds to the lined baking sheet and refrigerate. Gather the dough scraps and cut one more round of circles. Add these rounds to the baking sheet and discard the remaining dough scraps.
Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 425°F.
Make the filling: Wash, hull, and cut the strawberries into quarters if they are large; halves if they are small.
Mix the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the cut strawberries and lemon juice. Toss gently to combine. Pour the filling into the prepared bottom crust, spread the berries evenly, and press down gently on the berries to pack them tightly into the pan.
Whisk the egg in a small bowl and brush the cut dough rounds with beaten egg. Sprinkle the rounds with the turbinado sugar. Arrange the dough rounds in a single, slightly overlapping layer on top of the strawberries. Brush egg wash on the edges of the bottom dough and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. If the dough is at all soft, transfer the pan to the refrigerator to chill until the dough is firm.
Place the jellyroll pan onto a larger baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil to catch any drips. Bake the pie until the crust is deep golden-brown and the juices are bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. If the edges begin to burn, tent them with foil. Let cool slightly before slicing.
- Optional flavorings: You can add additional flavorings to the filling if you'd like. I like the seeds of 1 vanilla bean; 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh thyme; 2 teaspoons crushed, dried lavender buds; 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger; or 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon rose water.
- Storage: The pie can be kept tightly covered with plastic wrap or foil at room temperature for up to 2 days. After that, it can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 more days.
- Freezing: Freeze the pie uncovered until frozen solid, then wrap in plastic wrap or foil and place back in the freezer for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature for 1 hour and then reheat in a 375°F oven until warm, which should take 20 to 30 minutes.
- Make ahead: The dough can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day ahead.
- Food styling by Yossy Arefi