I heard a bunch of cool kids were posting pie recipes yesterday, on March 14 (aka 3/14, aka Pi Day, aka a logical day to celebrate pie). And yeah, I guess that makes sense. Pie on Pi Day. I’ll give you that.
But you know me. I’m an innovator. A free thinker. A woman not afraid to forge her own path in life. (Or maybe I’m just a mom with a sick baby who wasn’t able to write this post in time…who can say?) At any rate, I’ve decided that all the really, REALLY cool kids will be posting pie recipes today, on March 15! From here on out, March 15 will no longer be known as The Ides of March—rather, it shall be called The Pides of March, and thus, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is right on time.
My original plan for Pi Day—I mean, The Pides of March—was to make a beautifully tall blueberry-lemon pie. However, when I got to the grocery store and saw gleaming pints of giant strawberries and rhubarb so pink it practically glowed, I knew my decision was made for me. (The outrageous prices on the previously-cheap blueberries didn’t help their case, either.) When confronted with these sights, strawberry rhubarb was the only possible option, so strawberry rhubarb it would be. After all, how could I say no to these:
I couldn’t say no to them in the store, and I definitely couldn’t say no to them once they were tossed with sugar and baked in a flaky buttery crust. Brazen hussy that I am, I ended up saying “yes” several times over the course of a few days, beginning with this heart-stopping first glance at the pie, bubbling and dripping fresh from the oven.
Confession time: This was actually my first time making a strawberry rhubarb pie! I tend to prefer fresh strawberries over cooked, and I tend to prefer cake with gobs of frosting over pie, so…it hadn’t exactly been at the top of my must-bake list in the past. However, I think I’d forgotten just how good a freshly made fruit pie can be, because this amazing strawberry rhubarb version has me rethinking my entire frosting vs. cake philosophy. Maybe I’ve been deluding myself with my buttercream loyalty. Maybe 2014 should be the year pies and I move from a casual friendship to become besties. (Are you allowed to eat your best friends? Please say yes.)
Because I didn’t have a tried and true strawberry rhubarb recipe of my own, I started working off of one from Bon Appetit. I increased both the strawberries and rhubarb, and added some extra gelling agents, but used the skeleton of that recipe, and after tasting it, I don’t think I’ll change a thing next time. It was the perfect blend of sweet and tart, with a bold rhubarb and berry flavor just tempered by the brown and white sugars. The filling is juicy but holds together enough to cut clean slices, and it doesn’t leak a swimming pool-sized puddle of juice on the plate after the pie is gone. (My personal pet peeve!) I have a hard time imagining how it can be improved, but if you’re the experimenting type, a little lemon or orange zest would probably blend nicely and add another dimension.
The color of the filling was so gorgeous, I knew it needed to shine through a lattice top instead of remaining covered by a full top crust. If you’re a lattice crust newbie, never fear! That is exactly why animated gifs were invented. Weaving a pie crust together is really difficult to explain with words, but very easy (and mesmerizing) to demonstrate with pictures. So here’s all you need to know—now lattice go forth and make pretty pies.
(…yes, I’m groaning and throwing things at myself too.)
After hearing the indecent noises Jason made while eating half (HALF!) of this pie over the course of a few days, I think I’m going to end up making this a few more times over the next few months, and maybe for his birthday as well. We enjoyed ours with embarrassing amounts of honey whipped cream, but ice cream is also a wonderful accompaniment.
And if you love the combination of strawberries and rhubarb (and how could you not?!) don’t miss this dessert, Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlova:
- 13.5 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1.75 oz (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 10 oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 2.5 oz cold shortening, cubed
- ½ cup ice water
- 2 tbsp quick tapioca (also called “instant” or “minute” tapioca)
- 4 cups rhubarb, sliced into ½-inch thick slices (from 6 large stalks, about 1 lb)
- 4 cups quartered, hulled strawberries (from about 1 lb)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a large food processor (10 cups or larger size) and pulse a few times to combine.
- Add the cold cubed butter and shortening, and pulse in short bursts until it’s cut into the dry ingredients and the mixture has the texture of coarse crumbs. Add half of the ice water and pulse in 5-second bursts, adding the rest a little more at a time just until the dough starts to come together. You may not need to use all of the water—stop when the dough starts to come together, and don’t overwork it!
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it just enough to incorporate any dry patches of flour. Divide it in half, shape it into two discs, wrap them well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for an hour to chill. The crust dough can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grind the tapioca to a powder in a processor, spice grinder, or with a mortar and pestle. (This step is optional, but it produces a smoother texture in the finished pie.) Combine the sliced rhubarb, quartered strawberries, both sugars, tapioca, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and salt. Toss them together, then let the mixture sit and let the berries release their juices for about 20 minutes. Drain away the liquid that has accumulated.
- Flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll half of the dough out. Transfer it to your 9” pie pan and trim any overhang from the sides. Scoop the filling into the pan, leaving any extra liquid in the bowl.
- Roll the second half of the dough out until it is about ¼-inch thick. Cut it into 1-inch strips with a pizza wheel or pastry cutter. Lay the strips on top of the filling, evenly spaced, with a ½-inch space between each. Lay another set of strips across the first, running in the opposite direction. (If you want to weave your lattice crust, use the animated photo as a guide.) Crimp the edges of the crust together. Brush the top with the lightly beaten egg, then sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of the crust.
- Place the pie on a baking sheet covered with foil—the filling will bubble out of the crust, so spare yourself some scrubbing and make sure your surface is well-covered! Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 400 F. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and continue to bake. Cover the top of the pie loosely after 30-40 minutes total, once it starts to take on a dark brown color. Bake for about 60 minutes at 350 F (so 1 hr 20 minutes total baking time), and remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking. The pie is done when the crust is crackling and dark brown, and the filling is bubbling thickly from the pie.
- Let the pie cool until it is warm but not hot, then serve with ice cream or whipped cream. It can also be enjoyed at room temperature or cold, and the filling will have a thicker texture if you chill it before cutting.