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The Search for Santa Barbara Strawberry Pie

In the spring in Santa Barbara, I’d put off riding back up the canyon after school, and pedal the much flatter streets to a bakery on State Street.  I’d never had anything as delicious as their strawberry pie, whole fresh strawberries suspended in a strawberry glaze, topped with whipped cream.

For many years afterwards, Santa Barbara Strawberry Pie remained an elusive, happy memory. I never found a pie like that again. But strawberry season is here, so I tried to recreate this memory.  I used a recipe in the Fanny Farmer baking book (Marion Cunningham edition).

First I made a crust. Making pie dough in the food processor is so easy. That’s coming from someone who made it by hand for years and years. The other thing about making pie crust is that the more you do it, the better you get. That’s coming from someone who taught herself how to make pie dough, and had a tough time figuring it out.  but look at this, I rolled out this dough in a circle in about a minute. Best job I’ve ever done.


Baked it covered in silver foil for 6 minutes, then uncovered for about another 10.


The recipe called for slicing half of the berries and crushing the other half with a fork.


The smashed ones, mixed with sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch, simmered until translucent. Then the sliced berries were added.


When it cooled, I poured it into the shell.

How did it turn out?  It was very strawberry-y, like super fresh strawberry jam in a wonderful crisp crust. But the filling didn’t hold together. When I cut the first piece, the filling slumped into the void.  But the most important question is, did it recreate Santa Barbara Strawberry Pie. Ummm, no.  But my quest is not over. I’ve discovered the Cook’s Illustrated version of Fresh Strawberry Pie. There’s another pie coming soon.


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