Wow! How gorgeous is this? And the beauty of these seasonal, ruby stalks is that they can be diced and beautifully frozen for luscious strawberry rhubarb pies in the dead of dreary winters. So scrub up those stalks, dice and thoroughly dry and seal/freeze in freezer bags or with a food saver. I rinsed my pieces under cool water to thaw and gave them a spin in the salad spinner.
Now, I know the word “pie” sends tremors through even the best of cooks. I have never understood why, except that perhaps if you didn’t have a mother who could turn them out like a bakery, you would have never lost your fear. It is a piece of dough for goodness sake! If you mess it up you just patch, pinch and fix it! I am a bit of a pie snob though. Don’t like tough crusts with no sugar or spice on top and the filling must always, always be rich and syrupy. When you lift that first piece out it should be dripping fruit syrup. So I will give you some easy tips to get over your fear. First, you MUST, as with anything, have the proper tools. A pastry cloth, or clean linen kitchen towel, and a good rolling pin WITH A PASTRY SLEEVE on it.
available at Sur La Table and other stores for $4-$7.
If you don’t use these things, you will end up over handling the dough and adding too much flour back in to keep it from sticking and that creates a dry, tough dough. I dust the pastry cloth with flour, roll into a circle, roll the circle back on to the pin, re-dust the cloth, flip the dough and finish rolling. You should only flip once.
Secondly…you can get by with the pre-rolled pastry. That stuff has a weird taste to me, like some kind of additive. My life long preference has always been Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix. It comes in a box in the baking/pie section.
If you follow the directions precisely on this mix, you will have incredible crusts. Do not over stir or over handle. Trust me on this….best pie crust ever and no cutting in butter or shortening. Now, if you are using winter strawberries (those California kind that are really red outside with a nasty white pulpy core) you have to modify how you prepare them because you don’t want that white core in your pie. If you are using the fabulous, best in the world, Michigan summer berries then use the WHOLE berry! It is a bit of work to cut the winter berries properly but you will be glad you did. I use only the red part as in the picture below:
Once you have the fruit prepared, roll out out and prepare your crusts. I like to add the sugar ingredients and mix the fruit just before I fill the pie. Letting it sit too long allows it to juice too much.
One 9″ pie, 8 servings
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 t. cinnamon
On lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pastry and line a nine-inch pie plate. Roll out the top.
In a bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon.
Spoon in filling.
Place the top crust on the filling and flute and seal the edges. Cut 8 1″ slits in the top to vent.
Brush pastry top and rim with heavy cream and give a heavy sprinkling of sugar and a dash of nutmeg or mace, making sure the vents are not blocked.
Bake on a baking sheet with sides in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes. Tip: If you do not have a cookie sheet handy, make a drip catcher out of foil paper, larger than the bottom of the pie plate, and place it under the pie plate and up the sides loosely.
As with all my pies, I like to lay a piece of foil loosely on top for the first 15-20 minutes. This helps to “steam the fruit” and prevents over browning of the top. You may do this at the end as well.
Reduce heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 50 to 60 minutes longer or until rhubarb is tender, filling thickened, and the crust is golden.
Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting.
You are going to LOVE this ruby red gem!