Sunday found us gathered in my small, warm kitchen. Gathered to bake bread, to learn the motions of folding and turning, to put hands to dough and remember.
We mixed dough and put our noses close to learn with all of our senses about fermentation and happy, thriving wild yeast. We shaped, scored, and waited with anticipation to pull the lids off of the pots to see the spring.
There was laughter over lunch, a simple meal served family-style. Farro with roasted rhubarb and golden beets and new carrots dressed in a balsamic glaze, all tossed lightly in a kale and sunflower seed pesto. Cucumber and fennel salad, iced linden flower tea and black tea with violet honey. And bread; country loaves with the subtlest bit of rosemary, still-warm sliced aurora pan loaves, both served with just-picked-from-the-garden-radish butter and chèvre made next door and seasoned with smoked salt and rolled in chive blossoms.
Between folds and during rises, we walked into the field and forest to gather plants for making a simple summer salve. The children ran ahead and fell behind, whichever best suited that chapter of the imagined tale they were raptly living out, and we, as new friends and old, tucked red clover, yarrow, and plantain into our baskets.
At the end of our afternoon together, we shared pie. A biscuit crust piled up high with lemony-sweet local strawberries and maple chantilly cream. The children each had two heaping slices and we grown-ups got some while we could. It was simple and homey, and best because it was shared in kind company.
Thank you to Karen, Leika, Maura, and Ada for spending a perfectly grey and lovely Sunday with us in my kitchen.
Strawberry Shortcake Pie
6-8 cups fresh strawberries, halved or quartered depending on size
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Biscuit Pie Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter, cubed, very cold
1 cup buttermilk
To make the filling:
In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, sugar, lemon, and salt, and allow to macerate while you prepare the dough.
Make the crust:
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and zest. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter to incorporate or use your fingers to blend the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Drizzle in the buttermilk and work it in until just combined.
Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, then turn the dough out onto a floured counter and roll out to about 1/2" thick, or just flat enough to fit into your 9" pie dish with about 1" of overhang.
Trim off any dough that hangs over more than 1", and fold the remaining dough in toward the center and crimp to create a crust. Poke holes in the dough with a fork, and freeze about 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. To blind bake your crust, line the frozen crust with parchment and use pie weights or dried beans to weigh it down.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from the oven and take out the weights/beans and parchment paper, and return the crust to the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown on the edges and cooked through on the bottom. Allow the crust too cool completely.
Once your biscuit has cooled, you can assemble the pie at any time just before you wish to serve it.
Make the whipped cream by beating the cream, vanilla, and maple syrup until it holds peaks.
Layer whipped cream into the bottom of the biscuit crust and add a layer of strawberries. Repeat as many times as you are able, and then top the last layer of whipped cream with a few more berries. Serve immediately.
All images with people in them taken by Leika.