My latest food obsession is rhubarb. I’ve been buying it every Saturday at the local green market since early May. But I’ve only made one thing with it: compote—which is fantastic and delicious on top of damn near anything—but after awhile I needed a break.
Then last weekend, on a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard with my boyfriend and his family, I had a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie from Morning Glory Farm (a place that I’ve heard makes the best pies on the island). And all throughout the following week, I had pie on the brain. I explored the interwebs looking for recipes, and by Friday decided that perhaps pie was too ambitious a project for my Saturday. There just wouldn’t be time.
But I went to the green market yesterday—as some of you may have seen from my previous entry—I found some beautiful rhubarb, and [finally!] some reasonably-priced locally grown strawberries. I went for them, and then popped into Key Food to buy refrigerated pie dough.
(Side note: Unless you’re entering a pie contest and trying to prove you’re the best pie-maker at your job/in the county/the state fair, there is absolutely no shame in buying pie dough from the store. It’s a time-saving short cut, and if what you’re buying has a very short ingredients list that includes butter, you’re set.)
I went home and put together a recipe that incorporated elements from recipes I had read online over the week (thank you, Saveur and Martha Stewart). The resulting pie, while not perfect, was indeed beautiful—a golden brown and buttery shell, smattered with siren-red stains of juice, containing a soft, garnet fruit—tender to the bite and exuding the sweet-tart nectar of early summer.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie I
- 2 refrigerated pie crusts (I went with Pillsbury)
- Enough pie dough for two 9” pie crusts (top and bottom)
- 1 pound rhubarb
- 1 quart strawberries (the smallest, ripest berries you can find)
- 1 cup plus 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 2 tbsp. corn starch
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp. turbinado sugar
- Clean hands
- Sharp knife
- Large and medium-sized bowls
- Pie plate
- Wax paper
- Rolling Pin
- A brush (for the egg wash)
Allow pie dough/refrigerated crusts to come to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Rinse and dry rhubarb. Cut each stalk into thin slices (between 1/8 and ¼ of an inch thick). Put the sliced rhubarb in a large bowl. Rinse and gently dry the strawberries, then cut them in half (if they’re small) or quarter them if they’re larger. Combine the strawberries and rhubarb in the bowl – you’ll have about 7 cups of fruit. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine granulated sugar and spices. Sift the flour and cornstarch over the mixture, then mix well with a whisk or fork.
Cut butter into small pieces, set aside. Beat an egg in a small bowl, and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Add dry ingredients to the fruit, mix well with your hands.
Roll one of the pie rounds between two sheets of wax paper until it’s about 11-12” in diameter. Remove wax paper and set crust over pie plate so you have about 1” overhang. Press dough into pie plate.
Combine the dry ingredients with the fruit and mix thoroughly with your hands, until all the fruit pieces are coated. Transfer the fruit mixture to the pie plate, making sure the top is even. Sprinkle the butter pieces on top.
Roll out the 2nd crust the same as the first, but this time remove the top sheet of wax paper and score the crust with the tip of a sharp knife. You can cut out little shapes like I did if you feel like being fancy, but this isn’t necessary. You just have to make sure steam can escape from the interior of the pie so it doesn’t explode in the oven.
Peel the back sheet of wax paper off the pie dough and lay it very gently atop your half-built pie.
Crimp together the edges of your pie with your fingers, by folding the edge under and pressing them gently into the rim of the pie plate. Next, grab a fork and press it all away around the edges of the pie. (Cute, right? My mom taught me that.) Finally, brush the egg wash lightly all over the top of the pie, and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
Tip: If you don’t want to shell out the bucks for a box of turbinado sugar (like me), snag yourself two packets of Sugar In The Raw the next time your buy yourself a cup of coffee. Done and Done.
Set the assembled pie over a cookie sheet or piece of foil to catch any juice that might leak, and place in the oven. I baked for 55 minutes, until the crust turned a rich, golden brown color. The edges of the crust were not burned, but if you see yours start to burn during baking, cover the edges with foil.
As you can see, the inside of the pie was so juicy that some liquid escaped through the top. I don’t mind; I wasn’t entering this baby in a contest, and more than anything I wanted to make sure the taste and texture were perfect. To that end, I let the pie rest nearly 8 hours before cutting into it.
The results: a perfectly flaky top crust, tender fruit, and running juices. Delicious, but messy. The bottom crust, while cooked, was not cooked enough to my liking. I wanted it to be crisp, but all the juice in the interior made for a semi-soggy bottom. Again, still delicious, but it was impossible to cut a slice of this pie neatly. I have a feeling the crust would have turned out better if I had blind-baked it, but I have not seen the method called for in recipes for double-crust pies. And next time, I’ll add a half-cup of the flour/corn starch mixture, instead of just a quarter cup. In short, more experiments are definitely in order (much to the delight of my boyfriend).