Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. Have you had it? I’m sure you have. I thought I’d had it… til I went to Peggy’s pie making class at the Treehouse Inn. The tag on this class read something like: Peggy makes the best pies West of the Mississippi- come and learn the secret.
A tag like that is extremely intriguing to me. Really?! Cause I could sure use a good pie recipe. Pie is a tricky piece of pastry- I hadn’t yet been any kind of consistent with crusts and I didn’t even know if pie was worth it. But I wanted to see the Inn- where all the rooms are treehouses in giant cottonwoods.
And my life has never been the same since.
OK, it’s not like this is the most amazing recipe out there, I’m sure there are better, but this recipe is easy and works every time and I love it. I never knew how divine pie could be- it’s a favorite of mine now- even replacing brownies (can you believe it!).
Growing up, I never cared much for strawberry rhubarb pie. My dad made it every Spring with the giant rhubarb he grew on the side of the house. My dad likes to make pies, but… how can I say this…. he doesn’t have the most discriminating palette. The pie was too sour or too glossy sweet, not enough strawberries, or the berries weren’t sliced small enough and thus tasted “cooked”. The rhubarb was almost always too thick and big and the pie crust was usually too dry or chewy. It wasn’t horrible by any means, but it wasn’t great either. And I’m not complaining, cause one of the things I most love about my dad is that he makes pies… and he’s gotten better. But for the longest time, I just thought I didn’t like strawberry rhubarb pie.
But then I had some at Peggy’s, and it melted in my mouth. I immediately went home and tweeked her recipe to what I consider perfection and made about 15 strawberry rhubarb pies that spring and summer. Seriously. At least 15. I don’t think I can even finish this post, cause I need to get me some pie.
Just so you know,- you can freeze rhubarb. It’s best fresh, but still really good and just think of it: you can extend rhubarb pie into the depths of summer! Always use fresh strawberries though. And to let you in on my recipe: I tried different strawberry vs. rhubarb amounts. I first thought that more strawberries would be delicious, but it turned out that less strawberries and more rhubarb was the secret. Also, the flour/sugar mixture needs to be just right to get the perfect thickness of pie juice. Adding lemon- just a little- brightens and warms all the flavors and is a perfect addition. There’s also different subtle flavors you can experiment with like orange and ginger- make sure to keep in very small amounts- just a hint. Make sure to cut the rhubarb in small, thin pieces as well as the strawberries. And eat the pie about 45 minutes after you take it out of the oven, when it’s still warm but the juices have settled and had a chance to thicken. This is it’s peak! If you must serve it with vanilla ice-cream (all it really needs is a glass of cold whole milk),put a small scoop on the plate and only take little bites with each forkful of pie.
I am in love with strawberry rhubarb pie. It is on my top 5 favorite desserts. I am so happy it has entered my life.
First, the pie crust recipe:
1 ½ cups flour
½ t. salt
2 T. sugar
4 T. butter and 6 ½ T. butter-flavored shortening (OR you can just do 2/3 cup butter-flavored Crisco)
¼ c. real cold water
Mix flour, sugar and salt together and then cut in Crisco and butter with a pastry blender. You don’t want it to be perfectly proportioned. Leave pea-sized balls of fat throughout the flour- you don’t want the fat to be too small. Then pour in water and mix with a fork, just until the flour can be gathered into a ball. The dough shouldn’t be too dry or too wet. It is a little drier than sugar cookie dough. All the flour should be “wet”- if that makes sense. Divide into two balls.
Roll out on a pastry cloth with a cloth sleeve over the roller. (You can buy these at cooking stores. ($6-$10) You never wash them- just shake off and roll up. This “seasons” them and they are wonderful to roll dough out on. A pastry cloth is a must have for making pie dough!). Dust the cloth with flour (don’t be too little with the flour) when you are rolling out the dough.
Makes a two crust pie
Bake at 410 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 360 degrees for 30 minutes. Don’t overcook. It will look paler than you think. You cook it at the high heat first, to flake and crisp the dough.
If you are only using a shell, puncture with a fork and put in the oven at 475 degrees for 8 minutes.
Don’t put fruit in pie shell until you are ready to bake (it will make it soggy). Sprinkle sugar over the top crust. Cut bottom crust even with pie pan and then roll the top crust over the bottom crust, then seal with desired edging.
The pie is most heavenly about 45 minutes after you take it out of the oven- long enough for the juices to thicken, but still warm. Wow, I’m hungry.
For fruit pies, 4 cups of berries is about right amount
I think shortening with butter makes a much better pie crust than all butter.
Ohhhhh so good
Win the County Fair:
1 cup chopped strawberries (cut small)
3 cups chopped rhubarb (keep small- deep red is best, and so gorgeous)
½ t. lemon zest and 1 T. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup flour
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ cups white sugar
Sprinkle of salt
Combine flour and sugars and salt. Pour over fruit and lemon zest- mix till all is coated and moist.
Cook according to Good Pie Dough recipe
OR try with orange for a different taste:
1 cup chopped strawberries (cut small)
3 cups chopped rhubarb (keep small- deep red is best)
½ t. orange zest and 3 T. orange juice
½ t. (or to taste) of grated fresh ginger (optional)
½ cups brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup flour
Mix sugars, flour, spices and salt together and then pour over fruit and zest. Coat evenly until moist- pour into pie shell when ready to bake.