Sunday, July 25, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb is such an odd vegetable, no? If you use the wrong parts, it's poisonous. When put in pie or used in jam, amazingly delicious with an incredibly sour taste that turns wonderfully sweet and subtle with sugar. Add in strawberries and the flavors play off of each other wonderfully. It's a difficult taste to describe and one of the few that if a person has not had it, I will say they just have to try it.

So, the challenge with liquid laden strawberries and rhubarb in the classic strawberry rhubarb pie is, of course, making a pie and not soup under a crust. Most recipes call for two tablespoons of quick cooking tapioca to remedy the liquid/soup issue. I have also tried arrowroot and flour and they would still come out soupy. I found the recipe below on the blog Smitten Kitchen which calls for a whopping 1/4 cup of tapioca. Ok, that's a lot but nothing else was working so might as well try it. The heaping pile of tapioca got the job done in terms of sopping up the liquid. My one little issue was that I was very aware of the tapioca beads and could feel their texture in the guts of the pie. So, verdict is that it was not perfect but definitely solved the soup issue.

Final note on this post is about the crust. I have always and I mean always used shortening in my pie crusts as I believed that was the only way that the crust would fall like a blanket on the pie filling instead of standing crunchy and dome-like over the filling. A dome over a pie is never good and annoyed me endlessly when it used to happen with other crust recipes that I had used that were primarily made with butter. This recipe has changed my thinking completely on this issue! Not only did this crust taste absolutely delicious, there was no dome action that occurred. This crust fell beautifully over the pie, like aforementioned blanket and had that buttery richness that could only come from an all butter crust. The crust is also from the Smitten Kitchen and it will be the only one I use moving forward or until a better crust catches my attention.

Enjoy! AJ

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 recipe All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough or double-crust pie dough of your choice

3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon buttermilk (for glaze)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. (I like to fold my gently into quarters, to transfer it more easily, then unfold it in the pie plate.)

Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt, vanilla and tapioca in a large bowl. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter. Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle and cut decorative slits in it. Transfer it to center over the pie filling. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk mixture over dough. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.

Transfer pie to wire rack to cool completely (several hours).

All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough

Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl — whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces.

Make your mix: Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and mix a few times with the paddle attachment on your Kitchen Aid. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — stop.

Glue it together: Start by drizzling 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out. Gather the clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.

Pack it up: Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Touch and handle the dough as little as possible. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.

Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

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