>What is it about pie that makes us so weak in the knees? There’s the heavenly aroma of butter, sugar and fruits – the golden lattice reminiscent of the plaid tablecloths they’re known to sit upon after Sunday lunch on the grounds or festivals or diners.
Word on the street is that cupcakes are out. (Get back, you! Get back, you cupcake boutique mobsters!)
Since I work in a pastry shop, I’d like to think that my word is good. So, I say unto you, my friends: watch out for the pie revolution! More importantly, don’t get left behind! (Like we were supposed to last week! Thanks a lot, Harold Camping!)
It’s important to know what’s in season when you cook. Strawberries in January are a crime against Mother Nature. She knows what’s best, when it’s best. We should leave it up to Momma Earth to fancy our palates. So, in typical May/June fashion, we’re gonna’ do it up Strawberry Rhubarb style.
To be honest, I’d never tried rhubarb till a few weeks ago. It blew my mind! The tangy mystery vegetable of winter/spring growing seasons – not to mention how cool it looks with its beautiful reds and green webbed tops.
I tried a recipe I found, mixed with a few pointers from our pastry chef and set out to make my first strawberry rhubarb pie. It did NOT suck. In fact, it’s so easy; I think y’all need to give it a shot while strawberries and rhubarb are in season together.
First off, you need a good pie dough. I’ve tried a few and have yet to have one as good as Thomas Keller’s recipe from Ad Hoc.
Most other recipes call for shortening, which is fine, but I much prefer the taste of butter throughout the crust. And while I’m on the topic of butter, you’ll need a lot of it. I make a good amount of biscuits at home, so butter is one of my pantry items I try to keep stocked at all times.
Here’s the recipe for pie dough:
2 ½ cups All Purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled (if not frozen)
8-10 tbsp. of chilled water, add one at a time
Mix together your flour and salt. Incorporate your butter into your flour. You can either do this by food processor or cheese grater. Lately, I’ve been using our food processor because it’s so much easier. Just don’t overdo it – you want the bits of butter to be about the size of peas and maybe a bit smaller. Once all the butter, flour and salt have been mixed, you can start adding your cold water one tablespoon at a time. I’m still working on my hydration levels, but I’ve found 8-10 tablespoons generally do the job. You can always add flour and water to get the consistency you want. Once the dough has come together [not too sticky, not too dry], divide the dough making one half slightly bigger than the other.
Press down into 1-inch discs, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour so the butter has a chance to firm back up. When the dough has had time to rest, bring out your rolling pin. Start rolling out the bigger half of dough into a good 13-inch circle, respectively. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you will most likely be trimming off the funky edges. Roll your dough over your rolling pin and lay it ever so wonderfully over you pie dish, making sure to press the dough to the sides and bottom of the pie pan.
Do the same for the top crust. You can go either way here and make a sweet lattice or just a straight up flat crust. If you do make a flat crust, be sure to poke a few holes in the top because this pie will spatter a bit.
As for the filling, I’ve found this recipe to be delightfully toothsome:
3 ½ cups of (washed/trimmed) rhubarb, diced
3 ½ cups strawberries, quartered – depending on size
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup corn starch
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 egg + tbsp of water for egg wash
Mix thoroughly and dump into your bottom pie crust. Apply your top crust, paint with egg wash and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 for an additional hour and 20 minutes. Make sure you have a jelly roll or baking pan below the pie because it will cook over a bit and you don’t want that sticky mess on the bottom of your oven smoking up your kitchen.
Once your pie is done, and if you can, let it rest for a while. It’ll give your filling a moment to solidify a bit, giving you better slices. Top with some fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if you want to go over the top – I mean, why not!
Thanks for reading and I really hope you try making pies – I find them restful and enjoyable to make.
And as always, share with your friends – see y’all next week!
Happy cooking and bon appétit!