Tuesday, May 27, 2008

strawberry rhubarb pie

strawberry rhubarb pie

I usually try to shield you from examples of my various forms of Crazy, but in this case, it’s just too relevant not to own up to. You see, I’ve got all sorts of superstitions about pies, with each and every harebrained theory derived from some near or actual pie disaster in my past.

making pie doughpie dough pacmancannot resist the flutedunbaked lattice-top

There’s the theory that pies can smell fear; if you’re certain your pie will be a mess, it becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Then there’s the theory about making anything but the simplest lidded pie in the summertime, as the heat and humidity defies any level of air conditioning and makes your pie dough melt apart, no matter how many times you chill the dough. I also believe that pie recipes can be curses, because not every apple has the same level of sweetness, tartness and liquid and it’s nearly impossible to come up with a core recipe that works each time.

strawberry rhubarb pie, unbaked

In short, my pie superstitions could be summed up as, “Shh. The pie can hear you.”

Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, I would like to take this moment to tell my inner crazy person to, seriously, chill out. Some recipes are just wonderful. Some pies are delicious, even if they are not the height of consistency each time you bake them. Certain pies, like, say, this Lattice-Topped Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, should be made every Memorial Day weekend, creating the most delicious bridge between rhubarb and strawberry season, during the most welcome break between winter and summer.

strawberry rhubarb pie

It even fits neatly onto a list of 30 Ways to Be a Good Guest, except for the part that you don’t get to clean out the remaining scraps in the tin with a fork by yourself, once you’re alone with it again. Sigh.

strawberry rhubarb pie

Lattice-Topped Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 1997

Oddly enough, despite having a quarter-cup of cornstarch in it, my filling was on the wet side. However, when I came home I read all 134 comments about this recipe on Epicurious.com and found not a single mention of wetness, thus I’ve decided that it was just a freak fruit occurrence or bad measuring on my part, and not worth warning you about. Especially because this was gone in about 4.2 minutes, and I didn’t hear anyone complain.

Update: Because so many readers reported sloshiness — i.e. this pie tends to be too wet — I’ve updated this recipe with an improved version: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, Improved. It might be worth checking out before proceeding with this one.

Serves 8

For crust
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10 tablespoons (about) ice water

For filling
3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Make crust: Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. [Alternately, you can use a pastry cutter to make your dough, as I did.] Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

[Still worried about your pie dough? Check out my Pie Dough 101. I used this dough recipe this time, however, and found it just wonderful. It closely follows one I posted a while back.]

Make filling: Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

Assemble Pie: Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish [er, I used a metal one and it was just fine]. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.

Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange 7 dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Brush glaze over crust. transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about another 25 minutes. [The original recipe suggested a total baking time of 1 hour and 55 minutes. No joke. Mine was done in just shy of an hour.] Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.


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