June 29, 2020

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry-rhubarb should be the name of a deep pinky-red crayon. We make a strawberry-rhubarb pie about once each year, combining rhubarb from our garden with the spoils of our annual trip to a local pick-your-own strawberry farm. The result is as beautiful as it is delicious.

We have several raised beds and our single rhubarb plant takes up about a third of one of them. It is a perennial and every spring it is one of the earliest things to show a sign of life out there. It begins compact and strange-looking sometime in March-- a red and green eyeball, flush with the soil. Its stalks reach up and out until by May it shades anything near it and has gigantic, exotic leaves. It can be harvested well into summer. Each year I find new things to make with it. Still, we don't eat a ton of rhubarb. But it's not something I feel guilty about not using because it is always there and so abundant.

Willem, age six, and a rhubarb stalk with a massive leaf

This year's trip to our favorite p-y-o strawberry place was a little different than usual, with masks required, signs telling us not to eat while picking (I really missed eating the berries sun-warmed but resisted), and long lines both to be directed to our picking spot and to pay. But it was still a glorious day and it was fun to be out in the field together, filling up our flat. Willem has always been an awesome berry picker. Margaret, at five years old, still stands around and does a lot of talking about picking, but she's good company at least.

This pie recipe uses my default ingredients to accompany fruit filling: one cup of sugar and one quarter cup of flour. Some pies like blueberry require a little something more to hold them together (I use tapioca), and some pies like apple I tend to heap with as much fruit as they can hold so I do a little more sugar and flour, as well as cinnamon, in that case. But here sticking with the basic amounts of just flour and sugar yields a gorgeous, delicious pie that holds together but allows just a little ruby red juice to ooze into the pie plate after a piece is cut.

Once the pie pastry is made, this pie comes together easily. This weekend when we made this, I decided to make a lattice top to show off the bright filling.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie 
adapted from a King Arthur Flour baking class I took a long time ago

1 recipe pie pastry, with both halves chilled and ready to roll out
2 C sliced rhubarb (halved lengthwise first if large)*
2 C sliced strawberries*
1 C sugar
1/4 C flour
egg white and 1 t water mixed together to brush over crust before baking
crystallized sugar for sprinkling

*This amount makes a level pie, which was nice for doing the lattice top. But if you prefer a fuller, more rounded-looking pie with a traditional top, you could increase the amount of fruit/sugar/flour, keeping the proportions the same.

Mix together rhubarb, berries, sugar, and flour in a bowl.

Roll out bottom crust to a couple of inches bigger than the diameter of pie plate. Roll it up on rolling pin and quickly transfer to pie plate. Press lightly all around to secure it in plate.

Pour filling into prepared crust.

Roll out top crust to a size a little larger than pie plate. Then either roll it onto rolling pin and place on top of pie, tucking it under bottom crust OR create a lattice top: use a pastry wheel to trim off one side to make it straight. Continue to roll long, 3/4-inch-thick or so pieces across the whole round of pastry. Then start by laying one strip horizontally across one side of the pie plate. Overlap with another going vertically along another side at 90 degrees to the first piece. Add a third piece parallel with the first piece. Add a fourth piece parallel to the second. This time, lift up the first piece and tuck it under that so that it looks woven. Keep in mind the over-under-over-under pattern. Continue putting one piece horizontal and one piece vertical at right angles to each other, working from bottom left of the pie plate to top right and lifting up the pieces necessary to keep the woven look as you go along. When you've covered the whole top, tuck the ends under the edge of the bottom crust and pinch to seal.

Lightly brush all over the crust with egg-white wash. Sprinkle generously with crystallized sugar. Bake at 350 for about an hour or a little less, rotating halfway through.

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