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Re-creating classic Baltimore recipes: Haussner's strawberry pie

James Hamlin, owner of The Avenue Bakery, holds his strawberry pie that is reminiscent of the ones served at the former Haussner's Restaurant in east Baltimore. (Baltimore Sun video)

The Baltimore Sun enlisted help from a handful of local chefs to re-create favorite menu items from beloved Baltimore establishments. This time, they added their own twists — substituting vinaigrette for mayonnaise, sous-viding rather than braising and adding garnishes for an extra pop. 

Avenue Bakery owner James Hamlin didn't change much about the strawberry pie from Haussner's when he was re-creating it. But he did double the amount of pastry cream in the filling and substitute cream cheese for decorative whipped cream.

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He remembers the Highlandtown landmark as a restaurant to bring out-of-town guests, and a place with a menu so vast that customers could dine there for an entire year and never have the same food twice. He also fondly recalls the dessert case, where items like the strawberry pie could be found.

"I am a dessert person," he said, "so I walk in the door and they have this showcase ... it's like, 'Let me in the case!'"

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Located at 3244 Eastern Ave., Haussner's was open from 1946 to 1999. The building was recently demolished to make way for apartments.

The landmark building that housed the storied Haussner's restaurant in Highlandtown will finally come crumbling down as work crews make way for apartments.

Original recipe

3 cups strawberry glaze or strawberry jam
1 cup pastry cream
1 pre-baked deep-dish 9-inch pie shell
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (keep whole if small; cut in half lengthwise if large)
Whipped cream for decorating
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

For the strawberry pie glaze:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon strawberry flavoring
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water

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Add sugar, strawberry flavoring and food coloring to boiling water. Add dissolved cornstarch and stir over medium-high heat until mixture thickens. Remove from stove and set aside. As a substitution for the glaze, use 3 cups of strawberry jam.

For the pastry cream:

1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened

Scald milk in a saucepan and set it aside. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light in color and very thick, then beat in the flour. Pour the warm milk slowly into the egg mixture and blend well. Pour mixture into a saucepan and cook, stirring with a whisk, over low heat until mixture comes to a boil. It will appear lumpy at first; keep whisking. Make sure the mixture does not stick to the bottom and burn. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and butter. Cover surface with buttered wax paper (or parchment paper) so it does not form a skin. Allow to cool.

Assembly instructions:

Prepare the pastry cream and let it cool, then spread in the bottom of baked pie shell. Pour in half a pint of strawberries, cover with half of the sugar glaze or strawberry jam and add remaining strawberries. Cover with remaining glaze (or jam). Decorate the edge with a circle of whipped cream and sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Source: "Maryland's Historic Restaurants and Their Recipes," by Dawn O'Brien and Rebecca Schenck

The Avenue Bakery's Haussner's strawberry pie.
The Avenue Bakery's Haussner's strawberry pie. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

The Avenue Bakery's Haussner's strawberry pie

3 cups strawberry glaze or strawberry jam
2 cups pastry cream
1 prebaked, deep-dish 9-inch pie shell
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (keep whole if small; cut in half lengthwise if large)
Cream cheese for decorating
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

For the strawberry pie glaze:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon strawberry flavoring
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water

Add sugar, strawberry flavoring and food coloring to boiling water. Add dissolved cornstarch and stir over medium-high heat until mixture thickens. Remove from stove and set aside. As a substitution for the glaze, use 3 cups of strawberry jam.

For the pastry cream:

2 cups milk
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons butter, softened

Scald milk in a saucepan and set it aside. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light in color and very thick, then beat in the flour. Pour the warm milk slowly into the egg mixture and blend well. Pour mixture into a saucepan and cook, stirring with a whisk, over low heat until mixture comes to a boil. It will appear lumpy at first; keep whisking. Make sure the mixture does not stick to the bottom and burn. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and butter. Cover surface with buttered wax paper (or parchment paper) so it does not form a skin. Allow to cool.

Assembly instructions:

Prepare the pastry cream and let it cool, then spread in the bottom of baked pie shell. Pour in half a pint of strawberries, cover with half of the sugar glaze or strawberry jam and add remaining strawberries. Cover with remaining glaze (or jam). Decorate the edge with a circle of cream cheese dollops and sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Source: James Hamlin, Avenue Bakery

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