Sunday, June 5, 2011

My First Double-Crust Pie: Rhubarb Pie

A yummy slice of pie.
I've actually never made a fruit pie before. Granted, rhubarb might not actually be a fruit, but this was still a first for me. It's funny because I have certainly thought about making fruit pies many times in the past, particularly after watching Waitress and Pushing Daisies. What has held me back from making pies has been the crust. Crust-making seems so intimidating to me. You have to have the temperature just right, not handle the dough too much, and a whole bunch of other things to ensure that you don't screw it up. I tend to avoid anything where there is a good chance I might screw up (perfectionist much?).

Well, I was silly. It's quite interesting when I think about it. I tend to build things up and create a lot of anxiety within myself surrounding various activities, basically scaring the crap out of myself, and then when the time comes, it turns out that I really had nothing to be afraid of. Kind of like how I was terrified to dance to disco music Friday night. And so it was with pie crust.

Granted, I did have the best baking book ever coaxing me along (thank you The Grand Central Baking Book). But I like to think that my baking skills are good enough to handle any well-written crust recipe. I am lucky enough to be gifted in the kitchen, and I am delighted to know that that skill extends to crusts.

The key to this crust recipe is chilling the dough pretty much every step of the way. Never let the butter get warm, don't handle it too much, and don't add too much liquid. The end result is amazing- a very buttery, crispy, flaky crust.

Before the oven. Cute, no?
As for the rhubarb filling, I'm not sure how to describe it. Maybe "good god, this is good." The kind of pie where you have to take it to a private corner of the kitchen and have a moment alone with it. I picked up some beautiful big, red stalks of rhubarb at the farmer's market yesterday, and let me tell you, it was some good rhubarb. The original recipe for the pie calls for all white sugar, but I substituted one-third of brown sugar because I love me some brown sugar (cue Rolling Stones).

As I was eating this pie, it made me think how I would like to be the kind of person people visit for a slice of pie and a chat. Does anyone visit anybody for dessert and a chat these days? If not, people need to start. Seriously, you should come visit me for a chat and some pie. I think I'm a decent listener and a good pie-maker (unless this was a fluke), so I don't see what the hold-up is. What do you think?

Rhubarb Pie
from The Grand Central Baking Book


All-Butter Flaky Pie Dough
makes two 10-12 oz disks


12.5oz all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
2 sticks good-quality butter
1/3 cup ice water (no ice)
1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes and toss with the flour mixture. Combine the ice water and lemon juice in a measuring cup. Pour the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the texture becomes mealy, with butter pieces ranging in size from lentils to lima beans. Make sure the temperature of the mixture is still cold- if not, chill in the fridge. Next, add 3/4 of the liquid while running the food processor. Stop and squeeze a handful of dough; if the dough holds together, you are done. If the dough is crumbly or dry, add a tablespoon at a time of remaining liquid until the dough just comes together when squeezed.

Pour half of the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Using the sides of the plastic, squeeze the dough into a ball, then flatten it to a disk. Wrap and refrigerate. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Allow to chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Roll out one disk of dough on a lightly floured, flat surface. Roll out until the dough has a diameter about an inch greater than the top of the pie dish. Fold the dough in quarters and gently slide it into the pie plate and unfold. Refrigerate.

The finished product.
Rhubarb Filling

1 1/2 lbs rhubarb stalks
7 oz combination white sugar
3.5 oz brown sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the rhubarb into 3/4-inch pieces; you will have about 6 cups. Add the sugars, flour, vanilla, and salt and toss to combine.

Add the rhubarb mixture on top of the first layer of pie crust. Refrigerate.

Meanwhile, roll out the second disk of pie dough, to about the same diameter as the other disk. Carefully lift this dough and place it on top of the filled pie crust. Tuck the top edges of dough under the bottom dough and pinch together. Flute the crust using a fork. Next, make five slits in the top dough with a knife.

Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the dish and turn the heat down to 350 and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the rhubarb is bubbly.

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