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Nailed it or Failed it: Strawberry slab pie is good, but misses cut

Since we were having two potlucks at church on the same day, I decided to make mashed potatoes and a dessert for the Sunday evening get-together.

The mashed potatoes are very simple. Wash, peel and cut potatoes into chunks. Boil enough potatoes for 12 people.

Drain the potatoes then mash. Add 8 ounces of softened cream cheese and 8 ounces of sour cream and mix. Place in dish or slow cooker. Heat when you are ready to serve.

Please note you do not add milk and butter to these potatoes, but I do put a few pats of butter on top before re-heating. That’s the wonder of these mashed potatoes: they are meant to re-heat so they do well made ahead.

While looking through my dessert folder and finding last week’s recipe for big soft ginger cookies, I also found a recipe for strawberry slab pie.

I’ve seen photos of slab pies and they always look so good. I clip the recipes and file them away for another day. Sunday was going to be that day.

About mid-day Saturday, I removed a package of cream cheese from the refrigerator so it could soften. After I was finished with the dishes I was taking to the first potluck on Sunday, I got to work preparing this dish.

I removed the pie crust from the refrigerator to soften. Now, I always make my own crust because it’s just so much better. But to be true to this recipe, I decided to use the store-bought pie crusts from the dairy case so I could truly say if this recipe was a “Nailed it” or a “Failed it.”

After the crust softened, I floured a spot on my clean counter, laid one pie crust on top of the other and started rolling it out to 17 x 12 inches. Yes, I used my kitchen ruler to measure.

When I had it the right size, I gently lifted it into my 15x10x1-inch pan, pricked it all over with a fork and placed it in the preheated oven.

I let it bake for 15 minutes then placed it on a rack to cool.

Several hours later, I washed and sliced the strawberries, then measured out 1-1/2 cups and began to mash them. I tried using a whisk and a fork as suggested in the recipe, but neither were doing a good job.

I ended up using my food chopper on a grooved cutting board. I didn’t want to lose any juice for two reasons: it needed to go into the slab pie mixture and I didn’t want a sticky mess all over the counter and possibly the floor.

Next, I zested one whole lemon, which equaled the tablespoon of peel I needed. Then I juiced the lemon for the 1 tablespoon of juice I would need.

I placed a large saucepan on the stove, added the sugar and corn starch (mixing well), then added the water, lemon juice and one cup of mashed strawberries and juice.

I mixed well then turned the burner on medium. I heated the mixture, stirring constantly, until it boiled. I kept stirring and counted 60 seconds.

I turned off the stove, removed the pan from the burner and poured the hot mixture into another bowl to cool.

While I was waiting for the mixture to cool, I added the lemon peel into the cream cheese and spread it on the baked crust.

When I was done, I licked the spatula and, yuck, I wasn’t crazy about that mixture — but I don’t like cream cheese by itself either, so I was hoping the strawberry part was going to be really good, or this just might be a failure.

After about 10 minutes, I added the sliced strawberries to the cooked strawberry mixture, stirred well, then spread over the cream cheese mixture.

The slab pie was pretty, I just hoped it tasted good.

I put the dish in the refrigerator and was ready to start cooking supper.

When it was time to return to church Sunday afternoon, I cut the slab pie into pieces.

I carefully removed a slice to take a photo. When I was done taking a picture, I carefully slid the piece back into the dish and off to church we went.

Brad and I were not first in line for the potluck so I headed to the dessert table first.

I served myself the piece of pie I’d taken a picture of, holding on to it while going through the buffet line.

After eating my meal, I dug into my slab pie. I thought it was pretty good, but I wasn’t crazy about the crust.

My mom was sitting with us and she tried a piece of the slab pie, along with Brad and our table mates. One table mate, Shanda, said “you know, if it’s good and it’s easy, I’m all in.” So she thinks she’ll be making this dessert sometime this summer. I heard from others that knew I’d made this dessert and everyone was complimentary.

We helped clean up a bit and headed home. On the drive home, Brad and I talked about the strawberry slab pie and we both agreed we liked it, but we like my strawberry pie much better. And for the effort it took, my strawberry pie is easier.

So though I nailed this recipe, I’m not going to keep it. But I am anxious to make another slab pie of some sort. The Peach Truck will be in Winchester June 22. Maybe that will be my chance.

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.

 

Strawberry Slab Pie

— 1 box refrigerated pie crust, softened per box

— 3/4 cup sugar

— 1/4 cup cornstarch

— 1/2 cup water

— 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

— 6 cups fresh sliced strawberries (about 2 pounds)

— 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

— 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

— Sweetened whipped cream, if desired

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove pie crusts from pouches. On lightly floured surface, unroll and stack crusts one on top of the other. Roll to 17×12-inch rectangle.

Fit crusts into 15x10x1-inch pan, pressing firmly into corners and up sides. Fold extra crust under, even with edges of pan. Using a fork, prick all over bottom and sides.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and completely baked. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 2 quart sauce pan, beat sugar, cornstarch, water, and lemon juice.

In a small bowl, mash 1-1/2 cups of the sliced strawberries with bottom of a whisk or fork to make 1 cup finely mashed strawberries, stir into pan.

Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Pour into medium bowl, cool 5 minutes. Stir remaining sliced strawberries into cooked strawberry mixture.

In a small bowl combine cream cheese and lemon peel until well blended. Spread in bottom of cooled baked crust. Spoon strawberry mixture into pan, spread evenly.

Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

Just before servin,g top with sweetened whipped cream, if desired. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie pieces.