Monday, August 29, 2011

Hess-inspired Strawberry Pie: Success!

After my pie-making fiasco of a few weekends ago, I thought some of you might be pleased to know I *finally* had baking success this weekend!

As regular readers know, I have been researching old department store tea rooms this year. Hess's in Allentown, Pennsylvania was home of the legendary Patio Restaurant, and while it wasn't actually a tea room, definitely not a white-tablecloth kind of place, Hess's and the Patio are so important in retail history that I think it would be a mistake not to include them in any study of department store dining. Plus, Hess's Strawberry Pies were so famous even Liberace once ordered them by the dozens as Christmas gifts for friends! I simply had to master making some version of this pie. But let me hasten to say that I am calling mine a Hess-inspired Strawberry Pie. A wonderful PBS video shows the actual thing, and good heavens, that pie was a monster—8 inches high and 10 pounds! So I've scaled mine down, hopefully recalling a bit of the flavor of the original. Sure wish I could have shopped and dined at Hess's. Go here if you'd like to see the video, and tune in right at the 15 minute mark.

This time, I used the cooking technique from one Hess's Strawberry Pie recipe I found and the ingredients from another Hess's Strawberry Pie recipe (there are quite a few of them if you look online). The ingredients from Michael Lisicky's recipe at worked best for me, although I did adjust some of the cooking method. Here's the pie recipe as I made it.

Hess-inspired Strawberry Pie

1-1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons corn starch
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry Jell-O
1-1/2 quarts fresh Driscoll strawberries (or the biggest ones you can find)
1 baked Pillsbury deep-dish pie crust
1 pint heavy whipping cream

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the 1-1/2 cups sugar, water and corn starch over medium-high heat until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes or as long as it takes to get a nice thick texture. Stir in package of strawberry Jell-O and mix well. Remove from heat for a few minutes, then chill mixture in refrigerator until cooled but not set.

While mixture chills, clean and hull strawberries. Use a sharp knife to remove the hulls with the tiniest cuts you can possibly make. Fold strawberries into the gelatin mixture and toss gently with a rubber spatula until every strawberry is covered. Mound mixture into baked crust and pat it down with your hands as firmly as you can without crushing the berries. Refrigerate until set. When time to serve, pour whipping cream and the 2 tablespoons sugar into a chilled bowl and beat with electric mixer until thickened. Garnish pie with whipped cream as desired. (And may I just add that this pie tastes divine? I think it was worth all the effort!)


  1. Your strawberry pie looks delicious. Thanks for the links.

  2. Congratulations! It looks sooo yummy!

  3. Don't you love it when a plan finally comes together? ;-) So happy on your success! The pie looks scrumptious, and your perseverance paid off!

  4. Yum! I knew you would prevail!!! Congratulations!

  5. Love, love strawberry pie and this one looks amazing. Now I am hungry for strawberry pie.

  6. This strawberry pie looks decadent.
    I have downloaded Epicurious too as a recommendation from the young man giving me computer classes on my Mac. He said he loves to entertain and cook; wish I was 30 years younger. LOL
    I've read the posts I missed and think your chicken salad is one I'll try.

  7. I'll be right over...not to worry I am clear in Illinois!!!! : D
    Looks marvelous!!!!!Y U M M Y!!!!

  8. Your pie looks great! Very pretty. I'm glad you finally found success.

  9. Congratulations, Angela - success at last! That pie looks scrumptious, makes me want to run out and get all the ingredients and bake one. Thanks for sharing,

  10. I happened upon this post today in remembering my days working at the downtown Allentown store from 1989-1992. I had the priveledge of dining iñ the patio restaurant and eating this amazing pie. I look forward to trying the recipe! It was an amazing place then but in its heydey it was very glamorous with many movie stars visiting and models showing the new trends while dining. It was all about wearing your best clothes and white gloves and shopping amongst the huge crystal chandeliers and ancient artifacts the owner purchased on his travels. It is sad that this store no longer exists. Thank you!


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