Whether you want to try your hand at Apple Pie or Chicken Fat and Pea Pie, How to Build a Better Pie (Quarry Books, 2012) by Millicent Souris provides the tips for flaky crusts, toppers and all things in between. Learn the skills, practice the techniques, master the recipes and build yourself a better pie. The following recipe is excerpted from Chapter 4, “Fruit Pies.”
As the days become hotter and longer, strawberries gain more flavor. They are a fantastic accompaniment to rhubarb. After making loads of apple pies I finally tackled strawberry rhubarb pie without an inkling of its meaning for many. This pie breaks a lot of hearts and brings strangers into the fold to become friends. It is a powerful, powerful pie.
Strawberry rhubarb pie is delicious and incredibly juicy. You want to macerate the fruit for at least 30 minutes before putting it in the pie plate and baking. Lift the fruit out of the juice with your hands or a slotted spoon. Do not add that juice to the pie. I know it sounds counterintuitive. Your pie will create enough liquid on its own as it bakes.
Instead, reserve that liquid and add it to seltzer or tonic water, or braise something in it or freeze it to pull out in some midwinter dark moment of desperation for something different.
Basic Pie Crust (use shortening or lard), chilled
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) rhubarb
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) strawberries
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup (60 g) packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons (16 g) thickener of your choice (see page 15)
1 whole egg, beaten, or 3 tablespoons (45 ml) heavy cream or whole milk
3 tablespoons (45 g) raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C, gas mark 7).
Roll out your chilled bottom crust to no more than 1/8-inch (3 mm) thick. It should be about 15 inches (38 cm) in diameter. Place in your pie pan. Trim the edges so there is no more than 1/4 inch (6 mm) of overhang. Lift and crimp the overhang along the rim of the pie pan. Chill the bottom crust in the refrigerator or freezer.
Prepare your filling. Wash and wipe dry your rhubarb stalks. Cut on a slight angle no more than 1/3 inch (8 mm) thick. Hull your strawberries. Cut them in half or leave them whole if they are small. Place the rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl and add the granulated sugar and the teaspoon of salt. Let sit for at least half an hour. This is called macerating the fruit, and in this case it pulls out a lot of liquid and gets the rhubarb tender. This is a cripplingly juicy pie.
After 30 minutes pull the fruit out of the bowl with your hands and place in another bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, brown sugar, and thickener. Save the macerated juice for a drink, something with soda water, lime, and possibly vodka. Or freeze it to discover during a dark winter month. Just do not put it in this pie.
Roll out your second crust for lattice. You should achieve the same thickness as the bottom crust. Cut the crust into lattice strips.
Whip up your egg or get your cream in a bowl. Gently wash the top of the crust with a pastry brush. It’s okay if it gets on the fruit. This wash does not affect the flavor of the filling. It just adds a great crunch and depth to the top crust. Sprinkle evenly with the raw sugar.
Create your aluminum foil barrier and place it atop the pie. You want it to shield the crust from the heat, but you do not want to press the foil down upon the crust because it will stick to it and come up with the foil when you remove it.
Bake the pie at 425°F (220°C, gas mark 7) for 30 minutes. Then carefully remove the foil, rotate the pie 180 degrees, and lower the oven to 350°F (180°C, gas mark 4) for the following 30 minutes. The pie is done when you can see that the bottom crust is golden, about an hour total.
This pie must rest for at least 3 hours before it is served.
Yield: 1 pie (8 servings)
Reprinted with permission from How to Build a Better Pie, by Millicent Souris, published by Quarry Books, 2012.
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