Showing posts with label tart crust. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tart crust. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mysteries of Pittsburgh: How to Make Fresh Strawberry Pie, an Eat’n Park copycat by Cleo Coyle

I first posted my copycat recipe for Fresh Glazed Strawberry Pie back in 2009. For a short time, the link lived on my website, and then I bumped it for newer posts. With strawberry season upon us, I thought it was about time I shared this baby again. But first, a few words about its Pittsburgh origins...

I have plenty of favorite diners here in Queens, New York, but my heart belongs to Eat'n Park, a beloved regional diner chain located where I grew up, outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The place began during the days of the 1950’s car hops when everyone thought it was real keen to park and eat right in their hot rods.

Eat'n Park doesn’t serve you in your "ride" anymore. They're now a family restaurant and coffee shop chain serving a great American menu and the most amazing fresh glazed strawberry pie that I ever had.

I actually dropped a note to Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, suggesting he check it out. 

BTW - If you're a fan of Guy's show, and you’re wondering if he's ever visited any of your favorite diners or dives, click here and scroll down. The site lists all of the diners and dives (by state) that Guy has featured on his TV show thus far.

Back to that pie... 

My husband, Marc, and I grew up on Eat'n Park's food, and for years we pined for their strawberry pie because nobody even tries to do it the same way here in New York. Consequently, three summers ago, I decided to step up and attempt a copycat recipe. My multiple experiments were, well . . . interesting. Witness the beauty below.

Pretty to look at but about as tasty as waxed fruit. I’d used too much unflavored gelatin, which gave it great firmness but after a few hours rendered it as rubbery as an inner tube.

Next I reduced the gelatin way down—and got soup. Then I added cornstarch for thickening and the raw, chalky taste made my husband want to gag. Back to the drawing board . . . and finally, eureka! A combo of flavored gelatin, unflavored gelatin, flour, sugar, water, and strawberry jam created one of the best glazed strawberry pies we ever tasted.

Is it a worthy copycat Eat'n Park pie recipe? We think so. Now when warm weather begs for a delicious 
chilled fruit pie with sweet whipped cream, I whip up this recipe, take a bite, and suddenly I'm back in Someplace Special.

(And if you're from
Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, grew up on Chipped Ham Sandwiches, and can actually pronounce the names of the Three Rivers, then the phrase "Someplace Special" won't be a mystery to you. :))

Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Cleo Coyle’s 
Fresh Glazed Strawberry Pie


To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Servings: Makes one 9-inch pie      


2 pounds (about 2 quarts) fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (for thickening)
2 tablespoons strawberry gelatin (for flavor & jelling)
2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (to speed & fortify jelling)
3 tablespoons strawberry jam or jelly (for glazing flavor - do not use diet 
   or fruit juice sweetened)
1-1/4 cup water
1 pre-baked pie shell*

*Note on pie shell: Use my favorite Sweet Pie Crust recipe. (You'll find it attached to the PDF of my Strawberry Pie recipe here.) Or use your own favorite pie or tart crust recipe. In a pinch, frozen or store-bought pie crusts will work. Just be sure to bake them first.

Step 1—Prepare strawberries: Because berries retain water, do not
wash until ready to use. Dry completely, gently squeezing each berry with
a paper towel. Remove stems and cut in half. If berries are large,
cut into quarters. Place cut berries in a bowl and set aside.

Step 2—Combine dry ingredients: In a separate, dry bowl combine
sugar, flour, strawberry and unflavored gelatins. With a dry fork whisk
these ingredients together. Use fork prongs to press out lumps in flour.
(Make sure bowl and fork are truly dry. Stray drops will clump up your

Step 3—Make glaze: In a nonstick saucepan, stir together water and
strawberry jam (or jelly) and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir in dry
ingredients a little at a time until completely dissolved. Bring to a second
boil and simmer and stir for 8 full minutes (do not remove early). Use your
spoon or spatula to press out any visible clumps from your dry ingredients.
As glaze cooks, it will thicken and darken. Bubbles will become large and
make quiet popping sounds. After 8 minutes, remove from heat.

Step 4—Glaze strawberries: Pour hot glaze over fresh, cut strawberries.
Fold gently to coat evenly and mound into baked and cooled pie shell (or
store bought crust). With clean fingers, arrange the strawberries to make
a pretty presentation by turning the sliced sides down. Chill in refrigerator
for 2–3 hours to set. Because newly glazed berries will stick to plastic wrap,
do not cover until after the pie is well chilled. 

F o o d i e 

P h o t o s

The photos above 
illustrate my favorite 
sweet pie crust recipe.

To get that recipe,
click here.

s now attached to the end
of my 
Strawberry Pie recipe.)

Serve with sweetened
whipped cream and…

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Perfect Sweet Pie Crust, Pâte Sucrée


"God will not look you over for medals,
degrees, or diplomas, but for scars."
~Elbert Hubbard*
*Thanks to Tom Howe
for the quote

To put it another way: Perfection is overrated. There is no "perfect" pie crust. My own crust--the very crust that looks so beautiful in these photos--ended up tearing in places as I transferred it from parchment paper to pan. To make it whole again, I patched it back together. But that's the beauty of pie crust. Easily fixable. A relief when so many other things in life--bones, hearts, feelings--are not so quick to mend.
But I digress...

This Sweet Pie or Tart Crust is my version of the classic French "sweet dough" or pâte sucrée. It is the perfect complement to my Fresh Strawberry Pie, which I wrote about two weeks ago...
In case you missed that post,click here for the Strawberry Pie recipe.
(The recipe will appear in PDF format.
Just save it or print it.)

As for the crust...
Oh, sure, you can purchase a pre-made pie dough in the refrigerator section of your local grocery. You know the kind I mean, right? Red box. Unroll two layers of dough....There are frozen pie shells in the freezer section, too. But there's a big problem with those pre-made crusts: They're not sweet crusts.
Despite its French pastry roots, this sweet crust is extremely easy to make and really delicious--a tender, sweet, buttery, shortbread-cookie-like moment of bliss. So if you need one (a blissful moment, that is), consider it--and these two final points...

THE TRICK TO ROLLING "PERFECT" PIE DOUGH: I don't know why some cookbooks tell you to roll dough out between pieces of wax paper. I did this on their recommendation, cursing my way to the ultimate solution: Parchment Paper. Wax paper only works if you use flour to prevent sticking--and excess flour will toughen your crust. So take my advice and plop your disc of dough onto a sheet of parchment paper, drop another piece of parchment paper on top, and roll the dough out. Then slip the whole thing onto a cookie sheet, place it in the fridge for a few minutes, and the dough will harden up again. Now you can easily peel away the top layer of parchment paper and transfer the dough to a pie pan.

Blind baking used to freak me out. I thought it would be an extra step and a lot of trouble. It's not. It's incredibly easy, especially if you use this trick: buy flat-bottomed coffee filters. Just drop a paper coffee filter onto the dough, spread 1 cup of dried kidney beans on top of the filter to weight it and bake...(see my recipe for final instructions). Just make sure it's a flat-bottomed coffee filter. The cone shaped coffee filters won't work. (For those of you who don't brew or drink coffee, the shape of the paper filter is dictated by the particular drip coffee maker's basket shape. Look for paper coffee filters in the grocery store aisle where coffees and teas are sold.)
You can't believe I actually got a "coffee" connection in there, can you? Well,'s my recipe for "Pâte Sucrée" aka The "Perfect" Sweet Pie Crust...
"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.
In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."
~Julia Child

To get Cleo's recipe for "Pâte Sucrée"
Sweet Pie or Tart Crust
This recipe will appear in PDF format.
You can save it to your computer or print it out.

If you'd like more of my recipes or would like to find out more about the books in my Coffeehouse Mystery series, then click over to my virtual home at

Eat with joy!

~Cleo Coyle
"Where coffee and crime are always brewing...

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