Click here find yourself transported to the best recipe I’ve yet done with strawberries and rhubarb either in combination or individually. This recipe is so dyn-o-mite that like a Mark Twain character I couldn’t resist scooping up the chunk that you see missing and shoveling it into my mouth with reckless abandon only thirty minutes out of the oven. That’s a quarter of a pie that I ate that night: actions speak louder than words. Meaning: the pie was delicious and I’m a fatty.
But, using words, I’d like to describe the wonder of the strawberry rhubarb combination. Could a better pie pair exist in heaven? I think not. These two contrasting specimens complement each other so well when baked together that it makes you believe that there’s order in the universe, that there must be some guiding force who planted strawberries in one patch, rhubarb in another and gleefully put his or her hands behind his or her back and hoped that humans would figure it out. I’ve figured it out all right–the only challenge that remains is making pie crust without having a nervous break-down.
I wish beforehand I would have watched the classic Amateur Gourmet video Katy Bakes A Nectarine Pie. In it my friend Katy–a master pie maker–discloses her trade secrets to the naive pie-ruining mo-fo holding the camera. “You use ice water so it doesn’t melt the fat,” she says. “You try to get away with using as little as possible.”
I used as little ice water as possible in the recipe’s food processor method (next time, I’ll use Katy’s electric mixer method) and when I dumped out the moistened clumpy dough on to my wooden board crumbs went everywhere. I grouped them up and tried to make a proper mound to cut in half but it took a while. This was the step I found most painful.
When I did finally make two balls, I flattened them and wrapped them in plastic, placed them in the fridge and set to preparing the strawberry and rhubarb.
The strawberries, basically, get cut in half and the rhubarb gets cut like you see in the bowl. Here’s a little secret: I didn’t wash the strawberries based on the Barefoot Contessa’s advice not to wash raspberries because they pick up water. Here, I figured that the heat of the oven would kill whatever germs existed and after sampling several straight out of the box (I got them from the strawberry saturated farmer’s market) I determined that there was no dirt or grit to wash off.
Now it was time to roll out the pie dough and this is what makes me a nervous wreck. I smacked the chilled dough with a rolling pin so it would flatten on impact—I put plastic wrap on both sides in a method you see Katy doing on the video. I proceeded to roll and cracks formed and I freaked out but I overlapped a bit and somehow got it to stretch this far:
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my poor pie-making past it’s that it’s better to preserve the first roll-out no matter how much it tears than to regroup the dough and try to roll it out again. That just ruins it.
And so I lifted my somewhat decent dough into the glass pie dish:
I filled it with the luscious strawberry rhubarb combination (that’d been mixed with sugar and cinnamon)—and how can you look at this picture and not swoon over this pie?
Then I attempted the recipe’s fancy lattice criss-cross with the remaining half of dough. The recipe calls for 14 strips, I made about 8 and it was fine. I brushed them with the egg wash mixture:
Into the hot oven it went, the temperature lowers after 30 minutes I think, and then the house begins to fill with the most intoxicating perfume. That phrase, actually, “intoxicating perfume” describes what I liked best about the pie. Its aroma: sweet, mysterious, almost feminine. I sound like Liz Taylor in a White Diamonds commercial.
The pie came out:
It had bubbled over the edges a bit, but who cares? I waited as long as I could and then I cut myself a messy piece:
Sheer heaven. The pie crust was perfect and the filling was divine. In fact, I felt good because when I lived with Lauren I once made some kind of strawberry rhubarb cobbler where the rhubarb hardly got cooked. Now I knew what she was talking about when she said: “The rhubarb’s supposed to break down–it’s not supposed to be crunchy.”
Here the texture was definitive and the chorus in my head sang its praise. Then Craig came over and sang his praise. This is a praise-worthy pie. Go forth and make it.