Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie in the Sky

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words by Lia Pietrolungo; photos by Paul Mangus

Spring is officially upon us in all of her glory, and has brought with her the long-awaited consumption of all things strawberry-rhubarb – my weakness, my sustenance, my absolute favorite.

With finals week behind me (good riddance!), I felt a sense of emotional exhaustion that needed to be kicked in the rump immediately. Baking is the number one thing that helps me to reset, relax, and revive my frazzled nerves – even if it’s the cause of said frazzled nerves. After a long semester, I found my happiness in the creases of my rhubarb and strawberry stained hands… and in a big ‘ole slice of pie.

Unfortunately, I missed out on the farmer’s market this week, so I purchased my ingredients from The Mustard Seed. I frequent the Seed, so I felt good supporting a local, family-owned business.

I settled on a baker-friendly, flaky crust for the pie that has just the right amount of crumble to it. The cake flour helps to create a flakier, more tender crust, while using both butter and vegetable shortening ensures a flavorful crust that holds up beautifully in fruit pies

There are a few different ways to make a pastry crust: by hand, in a food processor, or in an electric mixer. I typically make mine by hand and use a pastry blender or my fingers to cut in the solid fats. It’s absolutely up to you how you’d like to go about this.

Strawberry-rhubarb pie is the perfect marriage of sweet and tart. The perennial rhubarb is tangy on its own, but adds a delicious bite when combined with sweet strawberries. A buttery crust balances out the acidy of the pie filling, while tapioca gives the filling body and sturdiness. A scoop of vanilla ice cream really seals the deal with this pie.

Happy baking!

 

For the crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon granulated or coconut sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
¼ to ½ cup ice water

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours and the salt.
  3. Incorporate the shortening using a pastry cutter or your fingers. You’ll want the mixture to resemble small peas. Place in refrigerator if the shortening is too soft.
  4. Using the pastry cutter, incorporate the butter. You’ll want larger bits of butter along with the smaller ones. This ensures a flaky finished product since more steam will be trapped in the pockets that the butter creates as it melts while baking.
  5. Add a few tablespoons of the ice water and toss to dampen the flour mixture. Add additional water a few tablespoons at a time until it comes together in doughy-yet-crumbly chunks. It is ready if it holds together when you squeeze it in your hands.
  6. Turn the dough out onto parchment paper, waxed paper or a lightly floured surface. Separate the dough and form it into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight.

 

IMG_0210Rolling out the dough:

  1. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to warm until it’s soft enough to roll but still cold.
  2. Turn out onto parchment, waxed paper, or a lightly floured surface. Roll out to desired thickness and diameter for your pie pan. The bottom crust should be a bit larger in diameter than the top crust.
  3. Fold the rolled dough in half, then in half again. Transfer the triangle to the pan and unfold. Fit to the pan.
  4. Refrigerate for twenty minutes until you are ready add the filling. This ensures that the fat remains cold for a flaky crust.

 

For the filling:

3 cups fresh rhubarb stalks, in half-inch thick slices
4 cups hulled and halved strawberries, quartered if large
¾ Cup coconut sugar
1.5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca
*Optional: pinch of fresh, grated ginger, orange zest, and/or a dash of cinnamon

  1. Combine rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice & zest, and ginger/cinnamon (if using) in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes or so, until the juices collect in the bowl.
  2. Toss in the strawberries and tapioca.
  3. Pour the filling into the chilled pie shell and smooth the top of the mixture. Make a lattice crust, or cover with the top crust and crimp the edges with a fork. If you use the latter method, be sure to cut slits into the dough to let the steam escape as the pie cooks.
  4. Using a pastry brush (or a clean paint brush if you don’t have one for pastries), lightly wash the exposed pie dough with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until juices are thick and bubbling. Once the pie is ready, allow it to cool before serving. Or, eat it while warm with a scoop of ice cream. Either way, gobble it up and enjoy every last bite !

 

Lia likes to keep a glass of water by her bed at night. Her cat, Heathcliff, likes to knock over her glass of water in the middle of the night.

 

I want to hear from you, fellow bakers! Tweet me your finished products or questions at @liacpietro14, or feel free to email me with any questions, comments, or concerns at liacpietro@gmail.com.

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