If as a child you automatically elected “red” as your artificial flavour of choice, chances are, you are a strawberry person. A strawberry, and I mean like a really good strawberry not a woody mid-winter strawberry, should taste like everything you loved about “red” with the volume turned up by about 10 notches. This pie pays homage to my childhood love of “red” by playing primarily to the sweeter side of strawberries, allowing the sourness of the rhubarb to creep in just enough to give you some endurance for not getting sugared out of the game too quickly. This pie is like everything those fire engine red, post-doctor’s-office suckers promised you they could be but never fully delivered on. It is so very perfectly “red”.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Taken from the infallible Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen), with some minor adjustments
Makes 1 double-crust pie (serves roughly 8-10 people)
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
Filling and Assembly:
3 cups rhubarb, chopped into ½-inch pieces (~1 ¼ lb)
4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved (quartered if large; ~1 ½ - 1 ¾ lb)
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca (sometimes called minute tapioca)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
Ice cream or whipped cream, to serve
Start by making the crust. Fill a liquid measuring cup with ice water and set in the fridge until ready to use. Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes and return to the fridge to firm up for 10 minutes after having been warmed by the knife and your hands. In a large bowl (preferably a wide one that is not made of metal) combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle the cold cubes of butter over the flour mixture and start cutting them in using either 2 knives or a pastry blender. Continually clean off the knives or pastry blender to avoid butter build up. Constantly scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed to ensure that everything is getting mixed in and cut up evenly. When the butter is the size of small beans, stop cutting. This won’t take as long as you think, and quite frankly it is MUCH better to stop cutting too early than too late. The butter “beans” will inevitably look uneven and this is okay. Just make sure you don’t have any pieces bigger than the diameter of a dime. If I see quite a few bigger chunks amidst the otherwise adequate butter pieces, I will sometimes get in there with my hands (which I have run under very cold water and dried off) and just quickly rub the big pieces between my fingers to break them up.
Drizzle about ½ cup of your ice water (minus the cubes of course) over the buttery flour. Use a fork to gather the dough together. Keep adding cold water, 1 tbsp at a time to help the dough come together. I find that I usually need to add several more spoonfuls of water to get to this point. Avoid the temptation to over-add water as this can result in shrinkage down the road. As soon as the dough can come together without then falling apart (but before it becomes sticky and over-moistened), knead it into a large lump. Divide the lump into 2 pieces, flatten each one into a disk, then wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour if not 2. Place the dough disks directly on a shelf in the fridge if possible for maximum chilling. If not using the dough within a day, place the wrapped disks in a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible, and freeze. I have used frozen dough up to a month or so after freezing and it’s been fine. Thaw the dough in the fridge for a day before using.
Just before the dough is done chilling, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and start on the filling. In a large bowl, toss together the rhubarb, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt, and tapioca. Let the dough disks soften at room temperature for ~5 minutes. Roll out one of the disks (the bigger one if they are uneven) into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface. When rolling pie crust, ensure that you’re constantly turning the dough (to avoid parts of it sticking or getting rolled thinner than other areas) and lightly dusting any sticky spots with flour. Carefully transfer the round to a 9-inch pie dish. I find it easiest to delicately fold the dough in half one way, then the other way, then to place the point of the folded dough in the centre of the pie dish and unfold. You want to allow the crust to just slump into the pie dish – no tugging or stretching to get it to fit! It should be draped in with no areas of tautness or tension. Very lightly push it down so that it fits the pie dish. Trim the edge of the dough to about a ½ -inch overhang below the lip of the pie dish (don’t stress if some areas have a bit longer overhang than others – you’ll pretty it all up in a bit). Scrape the fruit filling into the prepared crust and dot the fruit with the little pieces of cold butter.
Roll the remaining dough into a roughly 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Now you get to decide what kind of top crust to bestow upon your pie. I’m partial to a lattice-top crust for most fruit pies, but it does make it a bit harder to cut tidy slices from. Plus you ultimately get slightly less crust overall, so bad news if you like crust. A full crust will yield nicer slices with a more rustic, homey look, which is never a bad thing in pies.
To do a lattice-top crust, use a knife or a pasta cutter to slice 1-inch thick strips from the rolled dough. The more strips you cut, the closer together you can lay them, and the “tighter” the weave on your lattice. Lay 4-6 parallel strips horizontally along the pie filling. Space the strips evenly apart. Fold every other strip halfway back. Place a dough strip vertically along the midline of the pie. Unfold the strips over the centre strip. Fold back the strips that did NOT get folded back the first time. Lay another strip down vertically, parallel to the midline, equidistantly apart as the horizontal strips. Place the folded strips back over this new strip. Repeat on this side of the centre strip until that half is finished. Do the same thing on the other half of the pie, folding over the opposite strips as were folded the very first time around.
To do the regular crust, cut a 13-inch circle from your rolled pie dough. Drape it over the filling, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it and crimping the edges decoratively with a fork or your fingers. Beat the egg with a spoonful of water and brush over the crust, regardless of what style crust you designed. Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Bake the pie in the centre rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the crust is a deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling and juicy. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 4 hours before slicing. Serve cut into thick slices with mountains of ice cream or whipped cream. Bask in the short glory that is SUMMER.