Sunday, June 27, 2010

Make a Pie: Strawberry Rhubarb

With a lot of rhubarb around, I started making pies a few weeks ago. When I didn't have quite enough rhubarb for two pies I substituted local strawberries for the missing cup of rhubarb in each pie. I liked the result much better than when the two fruits are equally split. Most good fruit pie recipes are pretty much the same but I'll print one here anyway.

The crust recipe calls for vegetable shortening. Use it, it's better than butter. I bought vegan vegetable shortening bars at Whole Foods (because I was there and that's all they had) and got good results - the bars are a mix of different oils, sans corn oil, which, of course, is politically incorrect. Anyway, here's the basic recipe:

For the CRUST, put 3 level cups of aerated flour (flour you have stirred with a fork or whisk so it isn't compacted) in a bowl and add 2 tsp of sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir with a fork. Using a pastry blender (cheap, you need to own one) or your hands, mix in 2/3 cup plus 2 tbs of shortening until it looks like coarse meal (just looked up the origin of this expression). Gradually add ice water by tablespoon blending with a light touch after each addition. After 4 tbs try to form the dough into a ball; if the ball crumbles apart, sprinkle more ice water in. Between 6 to  8 tbs of water should be enough. Cut the ball in half (one part slightly larger, actually) and put the smaller ball in the refrigerator. On a floured counter (have more flour ready) flatten the larger ball into a thick disc with an even edge. Flour the top, then roll it into a circle (working out from the center point of the disc) about an inch larger than a 9-inch pie pan. Add a little flour to the counter and top of the dough as you work. Drape the crust over the rolling pin, roll it into the pan, press it, and put the pan in the freezer. 

For the FILLING, mix 4 cups sliced rhubarb, 1 cup quartered or halved strawberries (depending on their size) with 1 1/4 cups sugar, 5 tbs flour (minimum) and 1/4 tsp cinnamon (max). Pour into the frozen crust and dot with bits of butter (up to 2 tbs).

Roll the top crust in the same manner as the bottom. Dampen the edge of the bottom crust, sit the top crust over the rhubarb, press the crusts together and trim. Make a few vent slashes in the top crust.

Bake 15 minutes at 400 then reduce heat to 350 and continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes longer. (Timing depends a lot on the actual temperature of your oven so it's good to test it occasionally.)  

The pie is delicious warm, still great at room temperature and cold it beats cereal for breakfast. This one was packed to travel. 


P.S. I should admit here that my measurement of fruit is generous  (for a bigger, slightly more tart than sweet pie) - I probably had closer to 5 1/2 or 6 cups of fruit in these pies.


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