when my mom was a little girl she often visited hess's department store with her mom and her aunt. my mom has such fond memories of so many of the store's details, including the big revolving doors, the elegant chandelier in the lobby, and the beautiful women dressed as live floor models. however, one of her favorite memories of hess's was eating in the store's restaurant, called the patio.
the patio was legendary for its great food and its larger-than-life portions, but it was arguably most famous for its homemade strawberry pie. so famous in fact, that liberace himself ordered between 50-100 of these pies each year at christmas as gifts for his friends! i guess liberace had good taste, because my my mom's favorite dessert at the patio was their strawberry pie. the slices of pie were so big that my mom would often split a sandwich with her aunt for lunch just so that she would have enough room left to eat a slice of the pie.
my mom said that she remembers the patio's strawberry pie as being several inches high. it turns out that my mom isn't exaggerating, because a PBS special about hess's department store claims that the pie was in fact 8 inches high and weighed a whopping 10 pounds!
on one of their visits to the store, my mom and her aunt and asked a waitress if they could buy a whole pie to take home. the waitress sold them the whole pie, still in the glass pie plate, and asked them if they could kindly return the pie plate when they were finished. (talk about an era gone by!)
her memories of the patio inspired my mom to make her own strawberry pie for dessert this weekend. after we went to the flower and garden show on sunday, we went back to my parents' house for dinner and dessert.
of course my mom scaled back her recipe significantly. it was heavy for sure, but my mom's version certainly did not weigh 10 pounds (for which our waist lines were very grateful)!
my mom took me to the patio a few times when i was a baby, but unfortunately i don't remember anything about it. luckily, my mom was able to recreate this amazing recipe at home.
this pie is absolutely delicious. it's filled with whole fresh strawberries, and it's nothing short of impressive. just when you think it can't get any better, the pie is topped off with fresh whipped cream. even if you never had a chance to visit the patio yourself, this strawberry pie will make you dream of childhood memories and times gone by.
mom's strawberry pie
prep time: 10-15 minutes
chilling time: 30 minutes
cooking time: 5 minutes
baking time: 30-35 minutes
yields: one 9-inch pie
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons cold salted butter
3-4 tablespoons ice water
2 lbs. plus 6 oz. fresh strawberries (divided)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 envelope (0.5 oz.) knox unflavored gelatin
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
to make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. cut the butter into cubes and add it to the flour mixture. pulse the food processor until the butter is incorporated into the flour. while the food processor is running, gradually add the cold water until a ball of dough forms. remove the dough from the food processor and roll it out to a large circle. place the dough in a pie plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
after 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and remove the crust from the refrigerator. using a fork, poke several holes in the bottom of the crust. line the crust with aluminum foil, and weigh the foil down with baking beads. bake for 15 minutes. after 15 minutes, remove the beads and the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until brown. remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
to make the filling, cut the stems off 6 oz. of the strawberries. puree the strawberries in a food processor. in a sauce pan, combine the pureed strawberries with the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and gelatin. cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. remove from the heat and allow the gel to cool. once cool, stir in the lemon juice.
cut the stems of the remaining 2 lbs. of the strawberries and place them in a large bowl. gently toss the strawberries with the cooled gel, until the strawberries are evenly coated. pour the coated strawberries into the cooled pie crust. refrigerate until ready to serve. serve cold, topped with fresh whipped cream.