Utah Shakespeare Festival creates pie recipes evocative of its plays

Recipe and photos by Richie Uminski, courtesy of USF

Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, but don’t let its themes of jealousy and betrayal stop you from enjoying this delicious pie.

In the play, performed at the 2018 Utah Shakespeare Festival, Iago, an ensign of the Moorish general Othello, poisons Othello against his beloved wife, Desdemona, by sowing seeds of suspicion in his mind. The most dominant symbol in the play is a handkerchief. As it was the first gift Othello gave Desdemona, she keeps it as a symbol of his love. Because of Iago’s manipulation, Othello comes to see it as a symbol of Desdemona’s faith and chastity (or lack thereof). Othello tells Desdemona that it was woven by a 200-year-old female prophet and was used by Othello’s mother to keep his father faithful to her. The pattern of strawberries (dyed with virgins’ blood) on a white background suggests virginity as well as fidelity. Eat it and weep!

Strawberry Handkerchief Pie

A Salute to Othello

• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup brown sugar
• ½ cup arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 pinch of kosher salt
• 1½ quarts fresh strawberries, sliced
• ¼ cup strawberry jam
• 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
• 1 large egg
• 2 tablespoons water
• 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
• Dough for two pie crusts (use recipe below, or one of your own)

• Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 425°F.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, arrowroot starch, cinnamon and salt.
• In a large bowl, mix the strawberries and jam. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the strawberries. Mix gently until the strawberries are well coated.
• Roll out one disk of dough and fit into a 9½-inch deep dish pie pan. Trim the edge with a ¼-inch hangover.
• Add the strawberry filling and sprinkle the butter on top.
• Roll out the other disk of dough and place over the filling. Trim the edge with a ½-inch hangover. Fold the top dough under the bottom dough and crimp. Cut the center of the top pie crust to allow steam to escape.
• In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the top of the pie. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
• Bake on the baking sheet in the center of the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
• Place the baking sheet and pie on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Pie Crust

• 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
• 6 to 8 tablespoons ice-cold water
• Yields two crusts.

• Add flour, sugar and salt to a food processor (if you do not have a food processor, you can also use a pastry blender or a fork). Pulse 4 to 6 times until combined.
• Scatter butter cubes over flour. Pulse 8 to 12 times until the mixture resembles coarse sand and some butter chunks remain.
• Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of water over the mixture. Pulse about 6 to 8 times or until the mixture forms a shaggy dough. When pinched, the dough should hold together. If it breaks apart, add more water.
• Place half of the dough on plastic wrap and form into a disc Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Repeat with the other half.
• Remove dough and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10 to 15 minutes.
• Sprinkle flour over a clean surface. Place the dough on the floured surface and sprinkle flour over the top of the dough. After about 4 rolls (in various directions), sprinkle the top of the dough again with flour, flip the dough over, sprinkle the top with flour, and roll again. Roll until the dough is about a 12-inch circle.
• Use the rolling pin to help you place the dough over the pie dish. Gently press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the pie dish. Using a knife, trim the edges with about a ½-inch overhang.
• Fold the edge of the dough underneath itself so that it creates a thicker, ¼-inch border that rests on the lip of the dish. Crimp the edges by pressing the thumb of one hand against the edge of the dough from the inside of the dish, while gently pinching the dough with the other hand around the thumb. Refrigerate dough at least 20 minutes before baking. A chilled crust will help prevent it from falling into the pie shell while baking.