That was not a contented sigh of summer relaxation, but in fact an exasperated wail of disbelief that I have let so much time pass between posts. That’s what moving will do to you though so you’ll excuse me, surely, if this post reflects the harried, over-exhausted brain from which it stems. In a further insult to already-delayed injury, I have also recycled information in this post from a previous post, though I swear that it is 80% out of really feeling like a Pie-Making 101 refresher was actually needed and only 20% out of time constraints and mental numbness. Besides, it’s July, is anyone even reading this or are you all enjoying crisp glasses of rose on some delightful sunlit patio somewhere with your beautiful friends? Bastards.
If you read (and retained!) the pie-making tenets from last summer’s cherry pie post, feel free to ignore the following points. If, however, you did no such thing and hoped you could get away with it, tough luck, I’m submitting you to a rant because pie is a project and projects need RULES. Strawberry rhubarb pie is held in such high regard by so many pie enthusiasts that it would almost seem disrespectful to not read the tenets or decide you can just wing things, wouldn’t it? Especially when I have brought you two such lovely pie recipes to peruse through today: one for the people who get excited by the ‘rhubarb’ in strawberry rhubarb pie and one for the people who get excited by the ‘strawberry’. Have a little read through the rules, then decide which fruit your heart truly lies with.
1. Everything must be cold AF.
It is truly one of the cruelest jokes that prime pie season lands smack dab in the middle of unbearably-hot-and-sticky season. Heat is the enemy to pie right up until the moment that the pie is actually getting baked. And ensuring a cold environment on a hot day is a constant race against time. Perhaps one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself when pie-making during a heat wave is to keep returning things to the fridge/freezer periodically to firm up and regain some of the chill that inevitably gets lost from warm hands and warm surfaces. No ingredient/item is as crucial to keep cold as the butter itself. Making pie with butter that is anything less than extremely cold (yet not frozen!) is a travesty that must be stopped. Remember that a pie with no chill literally has NO CHILL.
2. Dough is a delicate flower.
So don’t read too much into words like “knead” when it comes it pie. In the case of pie crust, “knead” really means “touch this as little as possible while still allowing it to come together into something malleable”. Same thing goes for rolling. Roll gently and with even pressure across all areas. Rotate the dough frequently to avoid over-working particular zones.
3. Pie needs to cook for way longer than you think.
This might mean that the edges get golden-brown long before the filling and base are cooked. In this case, it is imperative that you allow the necessary cooking time while also being a good advocate for the crust and its right to shade. Aluminum foil is your friend and there’s nothing wrong with tenting off the edges (or indeed entire top of the pie) in order to avoid having a soggy-bottomed pie with a blackened crust.
4. Keep your cool.
A fresh-from-the-oven pie is to be seen and not touched. A hot pie slices messily and unsatisfyingly. The best slices come from a pie that has cooled long enough to gel but not long enough for every last bit of warmth to have evaporated. I find 4 hours is usually good, but it depends on how juicy your fruit was to begin with. Juicier pies tend to benefit from longer setting periods.
5. Your pie crust is no yogi – don’t let it stretch, it’ll just do itself an injury.
When fitting dough to your pie plate, your mantra should be the word “slump”. Everything about the dough should slump. It should slump into the pie dish with no tautness anywhere. The crust should just lazily slump over the edge of the dish, without stretching to make it past the rim. Stretching your pie dough will simply result in your crust shrinking, possibly to the point where it sinks right to the level of the filling. If you find that your dough has not been rolled widely enough to cover your dish, it is better to gently roll more dough and carefully patch it on to the spots that were left a bit bare.
Yay! You did it! Or you cheated and scrolled ahead in which case you will be regretful later potentially!