This has quite simply become my favorite pie. Strawberries unto themselves are amazing little fruits, but there are a number of pairings that, through some sort of magic, take the flavor to new heights, whether it be balsamic vinegar, chocolate and hazelnuts, or a rich cream, and the bizarre looking rhubarb is no different. So today, a classic that’s new to me: strawberry rhubarb pie.
This crunchy, red stalk might have a similar color, but the flavor is not at all like strawberry–tart, not quite citric, bitter, but somehow, refreshing and pleasant. Combined with the incredible sweetness of strawberries, you have a perfect balance of sweet and tart, the end result being nothing short of bliss. I spiced the mixture just a pinch more to add a little more complexity (another great strawberry counterpoint: ginger!), and all in all, this blend of sweet, tart, and spice was wonderfully balanced and intriguing to taste. This took strawberries to a new place for me and I’ve already stocked up on another batch of berries and rhubarb.
Many will argue about the proper proportion of strawberry to rhubarb, and I can entirely appreciate it–this is all very dependent on your preference for sweetness vs tartness, but seeing how I’m all about the strawberries, I kept the ratio nearly one to one. Plus, what can I say, this is also another entry in Strawberry Seduction, so how could I not? The pie has a very attractive, rich, red filling that just screams “eat me,” with the distinct flavor of strawberry enhanced by the bitterness of the rhubarb and highlighted by the spice of ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg, all finished off with my first ever-so-sexy lattice-topped crust. If strawberries were to just come in season, after making shortcakes (how can they not be first?), this would be the next urgent priority in the kitchen.
- Pie crust
- 1 lb strawberries
- 1+ lb rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces, trim ends, leaves, stringy layer
- 1 cup sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- dash cardamom
The first step to any pie is to make the crust. Once you do this, divide the dough ball into two balls, wrap tightly, and set in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to allow the butter in the dough to harden up a bit. After all, the uneven, chunky distribution of butter in the dough is the secret to success when it comes to a flaky pie crust.
So while the dough cools, there’s ample time to prepare the pie filling. The stars of the show are somewhat obviously strawberry and rhubarb. So with these two, lusciously red items out, hull the berries, sliver vertically, and dice the rhubarb into ~1/2 inch slices (like you would celery). Also take this time to preheat the oven to 400°F.
Now, in a bowl, toss the strawberries and rhubarb with the sugar and lemon juice. Let this macerate for 10 minutes or so to get the beginnings of the juices out in the bowl. While you wait, you can return to the pie dough balls, rolling out ball number one and spreading it over the bottom and sides of the pan. Once that is set, add the remaining filling ingredients to the strawberry bowl and mix into the juices well until totally incorporated. The color will become cloudy due to the cornstarch. Once well mixed, empty the contents of this bowl into the pie crust.
The final decorative flourish: I made a lattice top (my first ever which is why it looks so good ). This can be a slight hassle, but the result looks great, so if you’re making this pie for a crowd, this is a great way to impress. The work involved isn’t too difficult, so if you have the time and patience, simply roll out the remaining half of your pie dough, slice, lay, fold, and weave.
If the thought of making a weave/lattice has you ready to run screaming, simply roll out the remaining dough, lay it on top of the pie, crimp the edges, and add some slits near the middle (so it can vent). The pie will still impress, I promise. You can also bake the pie without a top layer of dough at all–still very sexy, just in a different way.
Whatever top layer you decide to make for your pie crust, transfer this to the oven for 30-40 minutes (as long as the pie requires to set–it should look slightly jiggly when you gently shake it, not liquidy and sloshy). Remove and let cool off, ideally, letting it rest in the fridge for several hours before you dig in (this will allow the filling to thicken up some more, making for a better presentation than having your pie just bleed filling everywhere when you cut into it).
But whenever you do finally dig in, consider whipping up some fresh creme chantilly (so much better than store-bought whipped cream and so easy to make), and enjoy!