Family and pie.

I am from a fairly small family. My immediate family consists of my parents and older brother. On my mom’s side, I have my one and only grandmother left and an older cousin. While my dad’s extended family is much larger, they are dispersed across the country and as a result, I do not know them very well and rarely see them. My husband’s family, on the other hand, is more extensive and close knit. My husband is one of three boys within a much larger network of his grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. While I am sometimes overwhelmed by large groups of people, I’ve grown to look forward to and expect frequent gatherings with this much larger family circle.

This past weekend, my brother-in-law and his wife came to stay with us. Whenever we have guests in town, I tend to get a bit carried away with cleaning and preparing copious amounts of food, perhaps going a little overboard at timesPie. Having some fresh rhubarb on hand from a generous friend, I decided to try out a new pie crust recipe I recently came across in the latest issue of Bon Appétit. Rhubarb and I have a fairly new and cautious relationship. I grew up watching my grandfather plant and harvest rhubarb from multiple plants nestled in the back corner of his garden. My grandparents always had pounds of it on hand to share during the late Spring months. Afraid of the unknown, a vegetable I had never so much as tried, I avoided it in fear of what I thought it may taste like. When cut, it looks quite fibrous inside and is sour to taste when raw. Only a couple of years ago did I first try and take my first attempt at using rhubarb in a pie recipe from Orangette. Inspired by this pie a few years back, I combined a modified version of this recipe with the all butter crust Pie 2recipe from Bon Appétit. Uncertain about the result at first, this pie was absolutely stunning in both appearance and taste. While I do not have a long history with rhubarb, I have found myself obsessed with this bitter, yet perfectly sweet, vegetable that marries so well with the flavors of strawberry, sugar, and orange. This pie was shared amongst a portion of my husband’s family, six of us in all, outside on a slightly cool Spring evening with a large scoop of good vanilla ice cream on the side. While last minute and awfully informal, evenings like this–long conversation, family, good food, and time spent outdoors–provide hope for a long and bountiful summer.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Modified from Orangette and Bon Appétit, June 2015
Serves 6-8

Crust
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (such as Stone Buhr, a local company)
1 Tbsp. organic granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. ice water

Filling
1 ¼ cups organic granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour or spelt flour
Pinch of salt (approximately ¼ Tsp.)
2 ½ to 3 Tsp. freshly grated orange zest
½ lb fresh rhubarb, washed, trimmed, and chopped into ½-inch slices
1 lb fresh organic strawberries, washed, stems removed, and sliced
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Good-quality vanilla ice cream, for serving

1 large egg
1 Tsp. water
1 Tbsp. organic granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350⁰ Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set pie dish on top. This will catch any juices that boil over during baking.

Cut chilled butter in 1” piece and chill while you measure the rest of the ingredients. Mix the flour, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss until coated. Work the butter into smaller pieces using your fingers and palms. Some pieces should be pressed flat and thin while others are larger and chunkier. Combine the vinegar and ice water in a measuring cup. Drizzle the liquid over the flour mixture. Evenly distribute the liquid with your fingers and knead the dough in the bowl until it starts to hold together. The dough will still look a little dry but do not add additional water which will make a tough crust.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface (I use a large pastry cloth). Smash the dough with the heels of your hands a few times while working in the edges. Cut the dough in half and press each half into a 1” thick disk and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days).

When ready to use the dough, remove from refrigerator 25-30 minutes before rolling out since the butter will become hard in the fridge and make the dough tough to roll out. Once the dough has softened up, roll out 1 disk on a lightly floured surface to a 13” round (about ¼” thick). Gently fit the round of pastry dough into a 9” glass pie plate, pressing it up smoothly along the sides. Trim away excess pastry from the rim. Slip the pie plant into the refrigerator for a few minutes while you prepare the filling.

In a medium bowl, combined the sugar, salt, and orange zest, whisking to combine. Add in the chopped rhubarb and strawberries and mix gently to coat. Heap the chopped filling evenly into the pie dish. Cut the butter into a few small pieces, and disperse over the filling.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the second disk of dough into a 13” round (1/4” thick). Gently lay the round of dough on top the prepared pie, trimming away excess and then pinching and crimping along the edges to seal the top and bottom crusts together. With a sharp knife, gently cut three or four slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

Beat 1 large egg with 1 Tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush the top of the pie and edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar.

Bake pie until crust is deep golden brown on top and bottom and juices are bubbling, about 1 ½ hours. I covered the edges with a pie crust shield to prevent the edges from burning. While 1 ½ hours is a long time, the end result is a perfectly browned pie with a thick filling. Let the pie cool for several hours in order for the filling to properly set. Serve with a large scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream.

This pie is equally delicious for leftovers the next day. It is and will likely always be a favorite in my household.

Enjoy,
L.

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