Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie


I made my very first pie yesterday. Well, I mean--I've made pies, but only with a frozen crust, canned filling, or both. And the reason? Because pie dough is terrifying to me. It's legendarily finicky. It rips. It cracks. It's too doughy. It's too tough. It's not flaky enough. It won't roll out right. You ask if you can rub its feet and it throws a drink in your face. Scary. And yes, I do realize how silly it is for me to be scared of pie crust when I've made croissants. That's why I attempted pie crust.

I was armed with all three Pie Tutorials from Smitten Kitchen (god, that woman really rocks your face off, doesn't she?). I got a recipe from, as they've yet to fail me. I got organic strawberries and beautiful, seasonal rhubarb from the Farmer's Market. There was nothing to be scared of, right?

Well, no. It was still scary. And ultimately, kind of a failure...albeit a delicious failure.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
For crust
-3 cups all purpose flour
-2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
-3/4 teaspoon salt
-2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
-1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
-10 tablespoons (about) ice water

For filling
-3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
-1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
-1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/4 cup cornstarch
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Make crust:
1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms. (**NOTE: I'm of the school of "cut in the butter yourself with two knives or a pastry blender. So, that is what I did.)

2. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

Make filling:
1.Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

2. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang. (**NOTE: I'm pretty sure 13" was juuuuust a bit too large. 13" made my dough un-pick-up-able, but 12" was more manageable.**)

3. Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange 7 dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Before disaster struck...

4. Brush glaze over crust. transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

-Serves 8

Verdict: Okay, so I really don't know what happened. At under 1 hour 25 minutes after dropping the oven temperature, the pie was still fine. It was looking good, in fact. But, I could see that the filling was still oozy. So, I figured that the recipe knows best, and let it stay in the oven for the rest of the recommended time (which was only another 10-15 minutes). And in that 10-15 minutes, the friggin' toppings burned! I was a wee bit furious. What's even better is that somehow, after 1/4 cup of cornstarch and almost 2 hours of baking, the filling was a fruit soup. THAT'S what really makes me mad. Afterward, I read up on possible solutions, which include using instant tapioca for high-acid fruits, and stewing the fruit and starch first. That's all fine and well, but then why does the recipe work for other people on Epicurious? Such a mystery.

That said, the fruit soup was spectacularly tasty. So tart and sweet. I'm going to go get some vanilla ice cream today so that I can use the pie filling as topping. The crust was good, though thin. Greg is not a big fan of pies overall, but he enjoyed eating the crust. So, there's at least one kind of victory for my first fruit soup pie. ;)

Any tips or suggestions on making pies, or why this pie failed? Please send them my way!

**Update: 5/27/10. After chilling in the fridge overnight, this pie was no longer fruit soup. It gelled and the pieces actually looked like pie, not like crust floating in fruit goo. Hooray! So, that's the key, I guess.**


Anonymous said...

Hey, my mom has the best flaky pie crust recipe. I have made it successfully many times (and you're about 10 times the cook I am). It's quite different from the one you posted, and I would say it's probably easier. I would post it here, but it takes a lot of explaining for the process, so... we should catch up on the phone sometime soon and I can give it to you.

Anonymous said...

I'm about 50/50 with pie crusts. Half the time they're easy and turn out delicious. The other half they're a struggle, and after an extra 45 minutes, they turn out delicious.

Hmm. I wonder if I tried them more than twice. Maybe not, after that second time.


mangocheeks said...

One of the prettiest tarts i've seen in a while. I bet it was tasty too.

Woudl you beleive that i have never eaten the combo or rhubarb and strawberry. Unbelievable I Know, but I do live in the U.K.

vocalista001 said...

Yeah those fruit pies take a while to cool and set, kind of like jelly/jam. You did a good job!!

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