Monday, March 21, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Last summer at the farmers' market, I snagged the last bunch of rhubarb and an extra carton of strawberries.  I came home, washed them, cut them up, and... put them in the freezer.  Normally I revel in the freshness of my farmers' market bounty but I had a plan.  I knew there would be a day in the middle of winter when I would be sick of citrus and longing for the bright red flavors of spring and summer.  So I squirreled them away in the back of my freezer waiting for that day to arrive.

For the (double) Crust:
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup ice water

Combine the first three ingredients.  If your kitchen is warm, chill the (metal or glass) bowl and the dry ingredients in the freezer.  Cut your butter into small pieces by quartering the stick lengthwise and then chopping it.  Make sure the butter is cold; return it to the refrigerator if necessary.  Add the butter pieces to the flour and begin to work it with a pastry blender.  Continue cutting the butter into the flour until it is approximately pea-sized.  The dough should start to show the path of the pastry blender.

Add 1/2 cup of the water.  With a spatula, gently scoop the dough and fold in the water.  You're not stirring, mashing, or mixing: you don't want the butter getting any smaller.  Continue adding water one tablespoon at a time until the dough is just wet enough that it can be pressed into a ball.  Use your hands to pull it together and press it into one solid mass.  Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for thirty minutes.  This is a good time to make the filling.

For the Filling:
- 2 cups strawberries, halved or quartered
- 2 cups rhubarb, trimmed and cut into half inch slices
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Comine all ingredients, stir, and let sit.

Back to the crust.  Cut the dough into two pieces and gently press each into a circular disc.  Place one disc on a well-floured surface and return the other to the fridge.  Sprinkle flour on top of the dough and onto your rolling pin.  Begin rolling out the dough.  Try to only roll in one direction rather than back and forth: work from the middle and roll outwards.  Flip and rotate the dough frequently, adding flour a needed, to keep if from sticking and to ensure even thickness.  You should notice large flecks of butter throughout the dough.  If not, the dough will be less flaky and be sure to cut your butter less next time.

When the dough is about 1/8" thick, gently lift it into your pie pan.  Cut off excess dough and roll the edges over, crimping however you desire.  Pour the filling into the crust and put the pie in the fridge.  What you do next depends on what kind of top crust you want.  You can roll out the second crust and put it whole on top, you can cut it into strips and make a lattice crust, or you can cut it into decorative shapes.  Planning ahead, I had originally cut my dough into two uneven pieces, rolling out the larger one.  This left larger scraps to cut off the edge which I used to make decorative leaves.  The (smaller) remaining disc of dough will be saved for another project.

Finally, brush your top crust with some egg wash (egg mixed with a tiny bit of water) and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 1 hour, until the filling is thoroughly bubbly and the crust is golden.  Serve warm.


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