Several months ago, I fell off the bandwagon for writing a monthly “Pie of the Month” feature for Appoggiatura. The rigors of working, cooking, developing recipes, and applying all of this to baked goods started making it difficult. Testing pie recipes (and cakes and cookies and all of that good stuff) is more difficult than my usual fare. Other things I can toss in a saute pan, taste while cooking it, and adjust as I go. Pie, however, needs to be practiced until it’s a finished product. Last summer I started developing a good Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe. Before I got it right, rhubarb was out of season. Rhubarb was difficult to find in Athens, so I couldn’t really keep working on it afterwards. I was disappointed, because the combination of sweet, tart, tangy goodness that comes from rhubarb pie is hard to beat.
So, a few weeks ago I was at the Blacksburg Farmers Market in Blacksburg, VA. I had the great fortune to find not just gorgeous strawberries but also some delicate red rhubarb. It was begging me to make pie with it. I took it home, tweaked my recipe according to my notes, and now we have the pie recipe below.
Strawberry and rhubarb are a classic fruit combination. When both are in season, they are perfect flavor foils–the strawberries are succulent and sweet, the rhubarb firm and tangy. Together, they produce a fruit flavor that outstrips any artificially flavored crud out there. Rhubarb itself is a fascinating plant. It’s leaves and roots are toxic, containing high levels of oxalic acid. The stalks are cooked in pies, sauces, compotes, and as most fruits. It provides goodly amounts of vitamin C and potassium to the diet, and it also contains some Vitamin A and Folic Acid. While rhubarb can be quite stringy, it is not a strong source of fiber. When choosing rhubarb for cooking, select the brightest, reddest stalks. These stalks have the most flavor. As you chop rhubarb, you may want to cut away any excessively stringy areas and discard them. If it’s stringy like celery, I usually strip those bits away. To celebrate this gorgeous rhubarb, I’m submitting this pie recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging #188. This week’s WHB is hosted by Graziana, author of erbe in cucina.
This pie can easily be customized to cater to either extreme strawberry or rhubarb fans. I generally use equal amounts of strawberries and rhubarb to fill the pie, but either proportion can be increased. Just make sure you’ve got five cups of sliced fruit, and your filling will be fine.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
- your favorite double crust pie crust recipe
- 2 1/2 C sliced strawberries
- 2 1/2 C sliced rhubarb
- 1 1/2 C sugar
- 2 T cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 T flour
- 1/4 tsp lemon extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 T butter
- 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
- sparkling sugar to decorate the pie
Prepare your pie crust, and use half of it to line a pie plate. Shape the other half into a disc and refrigerate it. Blind bake the bottom crust of the pie at 350º. Meanwhile, prepare your pie filling. Combine the fruit, sugar, salt, cornstarch, flour, and extracts in a mixing bowl. Stir well to mix all ingredients and coat the fruit evenly. When the bottom pie crust is lightly golden, remove it from the oven. Pour the fruit into the crust. Cut the butter into very small pieces and dot the pie with the butter. Roll out the remaining pie crust about 1/8″ – 1/16″ thick. Using a pizza cutter or pastry wheel, cut the dough in inch-wide strips. Lay the strips over the pie, weaving them in a lattice pattern. When the pie is covered, brush the strips with the egg wash, then sprinkle the sugar over the lattice work. Bake the pie for 45 minutes in a 350º oven. If the edges of the pie start to overbrown, tent them with aluminum foil. Remove pie to a rack when pie is golden and fruit is thick and bubbly. Let cool at least 1 hour before cutting.
Makes 1 pie.