Another spring-tastic recipe for you to revel in.
We started a garden this year, again. Being in a new house, a rental at that, can seem daunting to beginners like us. There was a huge garden out back, but it had been sorely neglected for some time. Covered in random patches of stinging nettles, lemon balm, wild raspberry canes, rhubarb and surrounded by a large vine of unknown grapes (four varieties to be exact). Seemed like the perfect place to get a taste of starting from scratch.
Here it is in September of last year…
And here it is as of April 15th, 2010
What we did discover after turning, and turning, and turning the soil, digging new beds, weeding like mad, and weeding some more, and some more, planting new seeds, trimming back annoying plants, etc. is that it’s hard work. The nuisance rhubarb we had “removed” last fall had come back with a vengeance. It was even growing in our compost pile, in a garden located on the other side of the house and down the narrow grass lined pathway we had created. Foiled again!
(Interested in knowing more of our gardening escapades? I’ll be writing a full article on it coming soon!)
So what I gave in to doing was letting the rhubarb be. I did like pie, and ice cream, cobblers, crisps, muffins, etc. made with rhubarb, so why not let it thrive? This past weekend, I found that it was huge and probably had just enough meat on it’s stalks to make pie. I’m no keener or purist, so I always make strawberry rhubarb, and I just so happened to have picked up a tub of strawberries that morning, fresh from California. (Our plants are still barely peeking out of their new found homes in the freedom of the garden, having grown up in tiny pots.)
So I made a pie. One of most favourite of desserts (besides this chocolate cake that is), and one I truly enjoy making. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make my crust better though, and I think I have finally perfected it. Layers of flaky pastry with a sweet taste of butter, not too crisp, just chewy enough. Let me know what you think!
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Yield: One 9inch round pie
Prep Time: 30 minutes (plus one hour of chilling time)
Cooking Time: 1 hr 35 mins
For the Crust:
4 oz vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces and chilled
4 oz butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
12 oz all purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp if you use salted butter)
1/2 cup buttermilk, ice cold (a couple of minutes in the freezer should do nicely)
1. Mix flour, sugar and salt in large bowl.
2. Cut in the fats with a pastry cutter. (Alternatively, you could do this in a food processor)
3. Slowly pour in the buttermilk (a couple of tablespoons at a time) until the mixture begins to get clumpy.
4. Form into two balls, flatten into discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but more is better.
5. Meanwhile, make the filling….
For the Filling:
3 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces
4 cups fresh strawberries, halved (about 14 oz)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
zest of 1/2 a lemon
pinch or dash of cinnamon
1. Stir all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
Assembling your pie:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out dough discs to 11 inches around.
2. Line a 9″ glass pie dish with the first rolled out dough. Trim the edges to within 1 cm of pie plate.
3. Pour in filling. Top with second sheet of pastry and trim those edges the same as the first.
4. Tuck top edge under bottom, forming a crust, pressing all around with the butt of a knife or your thumb to seal edges.
5. Cut lines or decorative cut outs into top crust to allow for steam to escape.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn oven down to 350°F and bake for another 75 to 85 minutes. Pie is done when crust is thoroughly golden brown.
8. Remove from oven and set on cooling rack for at least 1 hour (but best if more like two to three hours) before cutting in to it.
Also, it is not optional to serve with whipped cream or at the very least, ice cream. The sweet, fresh cream complements the tartness of the rhubarb so very well.
Also, it’s fun to lick the whisk when you’re finished whipping it. Shirt is optional.
There’s just something about pie that makes it nostalgic. Perhaps it’s the fact that the pastry you will probably use has been passed down for generations, just like great grandma used to make. I don’t handcuff myself to one pastry recipe, as I am always trying to evolve my own. Maybe it’s time you did the same. Still using all lard? I heard that’s coming back in style, but I can never get over the taste, too gritty. All shortening? Boring. All butter? Can be too flaky. Some form of a combination of the three? Perfect. Go ahead, try it out, you won’t be disappointed. Light flakiness, with a sweet buttery taste to boot. Delicious.
What’s your favourite kind of pie? Do you make the crust from scratch? Store bought perhaps? Whatever you do, I want to hear about it. Share all your wonderful pie memories with me!