There is nothing in the world of sweets that pleases me more than a fresh pie. It’s work, and it is seasonal, but pie made with fresh fruit is always my idea of heaven. So, for the long weekend, the pie is – as many others are making – Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. This pie needs to be carefully balanced between sweet and sour, so if you are making it from scratch with a whatever-goes mentality, best to taste it before you bake it. (Isn’t that another reason to bake – to eat raw dough and taste-test the ingredients?)
Preheat oven to 450 F.
for a 9-inch pan
2 1/2 c. flour
2 sticks (1 lb.) sweet butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 tsp. salt
6-8 T. ice water
Pour a cup of water into a vessel; add ice cubes. Do this before you begin the crust.
Cut together flour, butter, and salt until resembles coarse corn meal. Add 3-4 T. water, blend in gently with fork. Add another 2 T. water; blend some more. If it begins to stick together when you mash it together, you are probably ready to roll it out. If not, add another T. of ice water, gradually, testing the dough, which should stick together. Divide dough into two balls, making one slightly larger than the other.
Roll out the larger of the two dough balls onto a floured board, turning as necessary. Roll out until about 4 inches larger than pan diameter. Place dough into pie pan; drape carefully into pan to make sure dough is not stretched. Trim ends to about 1 1/2 inches outside of pan.
Roll out second ball for upper crust. If you want a lattice crust, cut strips about 1 inch wide. On a piece of waxed paper, assemble latticework. Cover with another piece of waxed paper. Refrigerate until ready to place on top of pie. If you want a plain crust, roll out until it measures about 2 inches larger than pan diameter on all sides.
It is not uncommon to have to patch a pie crust, and the lattice is no different. For the crust, take a trimmed slice of pie dough, dampen it with water on one side, and place it like a tire patch over the part of the crust that needs to be repaired. That area should also have a few pats of water on it. Press to seal. In the area of the lattice, if a strip breaks, or is too short, do not hesitate to repair it as for the bottom crust, but to make it look nice, hide the broken strip under an upper strip.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling
3 T. brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. water
3 c. diced rhubarb stems
2 lbs. fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced
2-4 T. tapioca
Mace, just a pinch of fresh
Juice of 1 lemon
More white sugar to taste
Combine together two sugars and water in a sautee pan. Bring to simmer until sugars are dissolved. Add chopped rhubarb, and cook slowly for a few minutes. Remove rhubarb from pan, saving syrup and returning to sautee pan, and mix in with fresh strawberries. Sprinkle tapioca into syrup. Simmer tapioca about 5 minutes, letting water evaporate a little bit from pan. If you like a bit of juice with your pie, use less tapioca, and use more if you like your pie to stick together. Taste (cool it a bit!) the syrup, and adjust using the juice of the lemon, and adding extra sugar to taste. When you like the taste, pour syrup over strawberry-rhubarb mixture. Sprinkle a bit of mace onto pie. (I like it plain, or with just a hint of mace – not much as the pie itself is so good!)
Pour fruit mixture into pie pan lined with dough. Cover with second crust, cutting slits into crust if you have not made a lattice; this allows steam to escape. Brush top crust with a egg yolk-water mixture, or an egg white-water mixture, or leave plain.
Bake the Pie!
Make sure oven racks are placed with one on bottom rack, and another in middle of oven. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place on bottom rack. Place pie on middle rack. Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes and then lower temperature to 350 F, and bake another 50-60 minutes until juices are bubbling and crust is golden. Cool on wire rack, or let cool in oven if really drippy.
When you are ready to remove the pie from the oven, get another pair of hands. My husband carried the pie, and I followed underneath, with a wire rack crossing the foil-covered cookie sheet, to prevent goo from getting on the floor.
Serve with cream, ice cream, or just pie itself.