Rhubarb Pie

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Hey there. Its been awhile. I sort of fell out of love with this blog for a bit. Or maybe I just reached my cake threshold. Read back and you will see that there was an appalling amount of cake just before the blog went on extended hiatus. (Oh, you think there is no such thing as too much cake?  Trust me, there is.)

But yesterday was the first grilling day of the year and I am inspired to post a little about this pie that I made because it is a thing of beauty. I served it with two kinds of homemade ice cream (honey and caramel) and several people commented that they wished they had skipped the ice cream but it was interfering with the pie. This pie stands on its own.

The recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart. It features an all butter crust and a simple crumble. Martha’s recipe (and yes, I call her Martha, because she and I go back) differs in execution from mine in one dramatic way. When you make the rhubarb filling for the pie, she instructs you to use a cup of sugar along with two tablespoons of corn starch, toss and then “pour” into the pie plate. I don’t pour. I lift the rhubarb out a handful at a time. This results in a mixing bowl with most of that cup of sugar still sitting in the bottom of the bowl. GOOD. Leave it there. What you have done is given your rhubarb a dusting of sugar. Rhubarb is not a wet fruit so only a bit of the sugar will be accounted for in the final product. (Though the crumble has some sugar in it, so you still get a bit of sweet.) But the result here is that the rhubarb stays tart. It retains its rhubarb-ness.

I think I am going to try to do a post a week this summer, but I’ll be focusing more on vegetables and exploring more of Yotam Ottlenghi’s cookbooks. (He has been my obsession lately. For next week’s post, I may revisit a cauliflower salad of his that I made yesterday.) So, happy summer. Come here to see what I’m cooking.

Rhubarb Pie
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

Pie Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup ice water

Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Begin adding the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough can be loosely packed together.

ONE CRUST OR TWO: You can go one of two ways here. Divide the dough into two balls and use one of them for the crust or make one giant ball for an extra thick crust. I chose the latter option and I highly recommend it. Rhubarb is a heavy fruit. Even the thick crust has trouble standing up to it.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 2 days.

When you are ready to bake your pie, roll the dough out to a 14 inch diameter and spread over the pie plate. Using kitchen shears, trim so you have one inch of dough hanging over the sides of the plate. (If you are like me and cannot get pie dough to form a circle for the life of you and so always have one little spot where no overhang is happening, you can use the trimmings and sort of tack it on.) Crimp the edges and refrigerate the plated crust for one hour.

CRIMPING: It has taken me many pies to get the crimping thing down and I am sure that my technique can be further improved upon. At present, I take my overhang of dough and fold it up so that I have a thick layer of dough around the edges. Then I use my pointer and middle finger, with a little space between, and press to form two little indents. I then move the fingers one over, so the pointer rests where the ring finger was and repeat. I do this all the way around. The result is pictured above.

Crumble

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

While the pie crust is chilling, make your crumble.

Combine the dry ingredients and stir well. Use your hands to work the butter in. Press the butter between your fingers to smash it all together. Once it is well combined, cover and chill until ready to bake.

Pie Filling

1 3/4 pounds of rhubarb (about six stalks)
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Flour for dusting

When you are ready to bake your pie, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Trim the ends off of the rhubarb and cut the stalks into even pieces. (Pieces should be 1/2 inch to 1 inch, depending on the thickness of the stalk. I had a mix of very thick stalks and thinner stalks, so the thicker stalks were cut into 1/2 inch pieces and the thinner stalks were closer to an inch.) You should have about six cups of rhubarb. (I used my digital scale to confirm that I was still right around 1 3/4 pounds instead of using a measuring cup. I have kitchen anxiety if I ever have to measure out more than five cups of anything. I am convinced that I am going to get distracted and lose count and have to start over.)

Toss the rhubarb with sugar and cornstarch.

NOTE: Do you need the whole cup of sugar for the tossing? I think so. You want enough for the even dusting. Almost the entire cup will get thrown out. Its a bit wasteful. You can experiment with using less sugar and see how it goes. I did not.

Remove your pie crust from the fridge. Take handful of the rhubarb and dump into the crust. (Remember, there will be sugar left in the bowl. Maybe a lot of sugar. Leave it there.) When all the rhubarb is in, sprinkle the crumble over the top. It will fall into the crevices here and there. Place the pie plate on a foil lined baking sheet and put into your pre-heated oven. Immediately turn the temperature down to 375 degrees.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours. (Check periodically to make sure that the crust and crumble are not browning too quickly. If they look pretty brown at the one hour mark, you should tent with foil for the remainder of the cooking period.)

Cool pie completely before serving (with or without ice cream).

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3 thoughts on “Rhubarb Pie

  1. The answer, I guess, to Lena’s question: “No”.
    For many years, I had a rhubarb phobia. Maybe the word “barb” inside? Then very recently, at the urging of a Metropolis employee– I tried a piece of their strawberry-rhubarb pie. Great but it made me want a piece sans strawberries. This recipe with its “dusting of sugar” sounds perfect. I suppose you can’t change brown sugar for the granulated white sugar? Seems to me I’ve tried substitutions like that before with poor results.

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    • I think you can absolutely substitute brown sugar in here. Brown sugar is just granulated sugar with molasses added in. (Light and dark brown sugar vary by how much molasses.) So brown sugar is a little stickier and might cling to the rhubarb a bit more hungrily, but it is also a mellower sweetness so I think it will balance out in the end. If you try it, report back!

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