We don’t have a ton of time on our hands—what with spending most of our days rubbing down our twitter timelines and making friends at the bar. But every once in a while, a FADER family member will find the time to explore something delicious, talk about what it is and explain how easy it is to make. This week, Samantha Rhodes writes about Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.
Making a pie involves multiple steps and the better part of an afternoon. The process is, in a sense, a microcosm of planning and hosting a successful dinner party, involving techniques drawn from experts, hearsay, family and friends. It can take a while to get the hang of it, but eventually it becomes satisfying and no trouble at all.
Pie crust recipes are often closely guarded family secrets. For years I used Julia Child’s pate brisee recipe, which calls for both butter and shortening, and simply substituted more butter for the shortening. I quickly found that moving this crust from counter to pie plate required the simultaneous deftness and gentleness that one employs when moving a sleeping baby from one room to another. I rarely did this job (the pie crust, not the baby) successfully, and was often left holding ribbons of raw pie crust in despair. While shortening is easy to work with, I find its pallid complexion and bitter taste unappealing. Most of the pies found in diners (RIP Polly’s in LA) use a shortening crust, and, for a lot people, it’s the quintessential pie crust. The crust I used for this pie is Martha Stewart’s all-butter pate brisee which calls for a full cup of butter. A full brick. Beefing up the amount of butter in the dough makes it easier to handle when it comes time to roll it out. This crust handles the way a shortening crust would, really. To make a really flaky all-butter crust, fold the dough over on itself several times as you roll it out, so that it builds layers that will crisp out when baked in the oven.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
A good crust should be flecked with butterfat that you can see in the finished dough. As the pie bakes, the butter will melt away, leaving little pockets of air (read: flakiness) where it used to be. To make this happen, cube butter and freeze for at least one hour. Prepare a bowl of ice cubes and 1/4-1/2 c water. Combine flour, sugar, and salt together. Using a pastry cutter or just your hands, combine flour mixture and butter until all there are no individual pieces of butter left larger than the size of a pea. Gradually add ice water a tablespoon at a time, shaping the dough into a ball with your hands. You’ll only want to add 3-5 tablespoons of water total, so do this slowly. Once the pie dough comes together easily, separate into two flat discs and chill in the fridge for two hours (or freeze for one hour). Prepared dough will keep in the refrigerator for three days or in the freezer for two weeks.
3 1/2 cups rhubarb, but into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound of stawberries, sliced into quarters
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1 large egg yolk beaten and blended with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)
Combine rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, and instant tapioca and let sit for 15 minutes.
Roll out the dough. Flour your workspace well and flip often.
Lay one pie crust in a pan, add filling and place second crust on top. Pinch the crusts together.
Make an egg wash by combining one beaten egg with one tablespoon of water. Brush crust with egg wash, slice air vents, sprinkle with demarara sugar if you want, and bake. Serve with good ice cream, and these dudes: