Thursday, June 3, 2010

There's Always Time for Pie. Always.

These are strawberries that ripened two miles down the road from my parents' house. The air on Cape Cod is sea salty and all bakers worth their sel know what a little salt does for sweetness. It fundamentally moves the sweetness of a berry and, in my personal experience, leads to a juicy mouthstain Sephora would be behooved to copyright.

Not pictured is the rhubarb, which is a shame. There are children who don't know what rhubarb looks like. Rhubarb is stocky with an exterior not unlike celery. It is one of those lovely pinky reds not frequently found in edible nature. It is tart and and is glorious cooked down into compote and served over Greek yogurt. Or vanilla ice cream. Or Couer a la Creme. Or a spoon.

This is a pie that's been filled up with goodness. I do understand that goodness is a subjective term but strawberry and rhubarb grown in running distance of where said pie is being rolled out absolutely qualifies. Particularly since I can't run very far, very fast. Unless it's toward pie, which has been my exercise momentum in one form or another to date.

This is a pie that's been basted with yolk using the back of a teaspoon. Teaspoons work when your mother has a beautiful kitchen and too many drawers for brushes to hide in. Just be gentle. Pies are more sensitive than they are ticklish.

This is my pie. Strawberry Rhubarb. It was the first pie I made from scratch, for Jaimeson. It was the pie I made with a broken Honeyed heart. It was the pie I greeted a baby with. Last weekend it was the first pie I made for my family who I'd love to cook for more often if we weren't always dashing around, miles apart.

It is my pie of summer, always perfectly in season around my birthday in any place I care to be. I have yet to do a lattice perfectly but I also can't say I'm paying that much attention once I'm working on it. Detail orientation eludes the pie and I. Light dustings of flour will coat the entirety of the kitchen and someone may have a snowy handprint on their back. No matter what, the juice always bubbles up in the oven. My pie is excitable and imperfect and mostly sweet but those little bits of tart rhubarb will catch you off guard every third bite or so.

It's been a wild week but there was time for pie and that counts for everything.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Filling adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Crust adapted from Orangette
Serves 8

8 Tbsp. ice water, plus more as needed
1 ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar (combined with water and kept in fridge till needed)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar (scant)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Crust: Combine flour, sugar and salt using a pastry cutter or food processor. I went with the cutter because I tell myself it burns calories later consumed and forgotten. Cut in butter until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling. Can be made 1 day ahead and you could also do a double batch and wrap two disks of your four discs tightly to freeze for future pies.

Filling: Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

Putting it Together: Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.

Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange 7 dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Brush/Spoonback yolk over crust. transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about another 25 minutes.


Christina said...

Beautiful crust! I never bake pie as often as cakes or cookies because I have to go through the added step of the crust, but I need to change that.

Thanks for the comment on my blog!

Janine at Rustic Kitchen said...

The best of classic flavor combinations! No surprise it's an important part of your life.

Kelly said...

Gorgeous! I love a single recipe that can see you through so many ups and downs. I had no idea strawberry season was already here! I'll have to keep a look out.

TKTC said...

Christina: Getting intimate with crust fundamentally changed my order of dessert ranking. As did learning to have a crust on hand for busy weeks that still should not be deficient of fruited pastry. Highly recommend. It tastes loving.

Janine: Thanks, my friend. You have all sorts of other lovely uses for rhubarb if I remember correctly.

Kelly: Strawberries are very here and I think you will be satisfied by the Midwest's offerings this year!

Linda said...

"Pies are more sensitive than they are ticklish."

This is why I love reading your blog. :)