Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Foolproof Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Once upon a time, my husband left for a summer internship in Ireland.
Oh my, was that a long summer.

But I had big plans:
I was going to ace my two summer courses! I was going to focus more on my little blog! I was going to bake a rhubarb pie!

I don't think any of those things really happened in his absence.

I've moved forward with my life since then; the hubs came home, I finished my degree, we had a beautiful, amazing, delightful baby boy, and I've found more focus on my blog. But I still hadn't made that rhubarb pie.

That changed this weekend, when I was given some beautiful rhubarb from a neighbor.

My history with pie crust has been short and tragic. I've always wanted to make great pie -- there's just something about a well-made pie that makes your chest puff up with pride, you know? But can I just say that whoever coined the phrase "easy as pie" lied like a rug?

By way of a new friend, I found Lucinda Scala Quinn's recipe for very forgiving cream cheese pastry. It was easy to make and easy to work with, making my odds for success exponentially higher. In addition to ease of use, this crust came out flaky and delicious. I'm sold!

You could certainly use any crust you prefer, but if, like me, you're a novice pie-maker, I highly recommend this cream cheese crust. Because if I can do it, you can, too. (Which I think is really why I write this blog.)

The filling is from the incomparable Deb Perelman at smitten kitchen. Hers is one of the first blogs I started following, and is still one of my absolute favorites. Every recipe is so precise -- I just knew it would be foolproof. The only change I will make when I make it again is to cut the fruit into smaller pieces, since I don't prefer a chunky texture.

Foolproof Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

for crust
1 c. (2 sticks, 16 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Process the butter, cream cheese, and cream in a food processor, electric mixer, or by hand to thoroughly combine.

Add the flour and salt. Process just until combined and the dough holds together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide into 2 pieces. Flatten into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. If the dough is chilled overnight, take it out 15 minutes before rolling out.

Rub flour all over a rolling pin. Working with one dough disk at a time, place the disk on a clean, well-floured surface. Applying some pressure with the rolling pin, roll gently from the center of the dough to the top and bottom edges. Rotate the disk and roll to the top and bottom edges again. Re-flour the work surface and rolling pin, turn the dough over, and continue to roll the dough from the center out to the edges. Turn over and roll again, rotating the disk to ensure even rolling until the dough is about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick.

Preheat oven to 400ยบ, and carefully transfer your bottom crust to a 9" pie plate. (I like to roll my crust gently over my rolling pin, then unroll it over the pie plate.) Gently mold your pastry to the pie plate, being sure there are no air bubbles.

for filling
3 1/2 c. (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 c. (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice or 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. quick-cooking (instant) tapioca
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

In a large bowl, stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon or cinnamon, salt, and tapioca. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter. Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle and cut decorative slits in it. Transfer it to center over the pie filling. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk mixture over dough. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.

Transfer pie to wire rack to cool completely. When fully cooled (several hours later) the juices will gel nicely.

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