Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Sigh. I am so conflicted this time of year with the simultaneous arrival of both exam period, and some of the sweetest parts of Spring. Cherry blossoms, warm summery breezes, the appearance of rhubarb at the market… these things do nothing for my already challenged attention span.

But life’s about balance, right? So I am taking lots of study breaks: strolling with Oliver through the streets lined with cherry trees snowing their blossoms onto the cars parked beneath them; running on the beach at low tide to capture a few moments of warm, salty air; ransacking the market on my walk home from the 24-hour coffee house (thus continuing the walk home with 30 pounds of books on my back, and 5 pounds of rhubarb under each arm); and then baking the afore-mentioned rhubarb into a delicious, summery pie.

Because writing this, too, constitutes a study break, I have to keep it short and sweet – balance, right? So I’ll cut right to the chase and share with you the recipe for one of my most favorite fragments of Spring – Strawberry Rhubarb pie. The pie crust recipe is my go-to favorite, apart from a family recipe for a press-in crust that I will share with you at another time. When I make it, I usually double the recipe, and toss a disk or two of dough into the freezer for spontaneous quiches, pot-pies, samosas, or the materialization of some irresistible fruit at the market.

A couple tips for making pie crust – keep the ingredients as cold as possible. To have a light, flaky pastry it is crucial to prevent the butter from melting into the dough before it hits the hot oven. So handle it minimally, and start with cold ingredients. Another important part not to skip is letting the dough rest. Letting it sit before rolling it out allows the gluten (wheat protein) to relax – if you don’t rest it, the dough will be much more difficult to handle, and will shrink in the oven.

Double-Crust Pie Dough

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tbsp sugar

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 cup butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled

  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

1. Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a very large bowl. Add the chilled butter and cut in using a pastry cutter, two knives, or by quickly working it in using your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (Alternatively, freeze a 1-cup block of butter – or two sticks in the U.S.- and then grate it into the flour mixture).

2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Stir the dough together using a wooden spoon, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time if needed to make dough stick together.

3. Divide the dough into two even pieces and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Let the chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling it out. (At this point it can be refrigerated for two days, or frozen for two months. Let frozen dough thaw on the counter until soft enough to roll out).

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

The recipe calls for a double-crusted pie, but I made mine with a bottom crust only – as I only had that much frozen.

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil

  • 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces (5-6 cups)

  • 3/4 cup sugar*

  • 1 recipe double-crust pie dough

  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

  • 2 tsp lemon juice*

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1 egg white

  • 1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling

1. Adjust a oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Roll out bottom pie crust by laying the rested disk of dough between sheets of wax paper on the counter. Roll the dough outward from its center into a 12-inch circle, giving it a quarter-turn every few strokes. Peel off one layer of wax paper, and press the dough into a pie plate. Remove top layer of wax paper.

2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rhubarb and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb has lost most of its liquid but is still firm, about 5 minutes. Spread the cooked rhubarb out over a large plate and refrigerate until cool.

3. Meanwhile, roll out the top crust into a 12-inch circle. Toss the cooled rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice and vanilla together. Sprinkle sugar and cornstarch over the fruit and toss thoroughly. *Taste the fruit and adjust the sugar and lemon juice to your liking. I like it a bit tart, and a total 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar is perfect for me, however, the initial recipe called for 1 to 1 1/4 cup. Spread the fruit in the unbaked pie crust bottom.

4. Lay the top crust over the fruit (peel wax paper off of one side of dough, lay that side on top of fruit then peel off other side of wax paper), seal the edges with your fingers, and cut eight slits in the top to create vents. Brush the crust with egg white, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

5. Place the pie on heated baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet, reduce the oven temperature again to 375 degrees and continue to bake until juices are bubbling and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. (If crust edges are getting to dark, protect them with aluminum foil). Transfer pie to a wire rack and cool before serving. The pie can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in foil, for two days.

Last Updated on April 21, 2009 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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