I wanted to share the pie recipe because it’s pretty simple yet very delicious (it consistently receives rave reviews from friends and family) and uses a fruit and vegetable that are in abundant supply right now at farms and farmers’ markets – strawberries and rhubarb. The crust is the very one I learned to make in cooking school. Known as pate brisee, it is classic French pie and tart crust that can be made in 5 minutes in the food processor. Buy good butter, unsalted organic preferably, and keep all your ingredients very cold. If the project seems overwhelming, made the crust one day, and the pie the next.
Classic French Pastry Crust (Pate Brisee)
yield: two 9″ pie crusts (enough for one pie with a top crust)
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus additional flour as needed for pastry board and pin
- 1 tsp. salt (not Kosher)
- 1 T sugar (cane or organic, anything else is likely genetically modified)
- 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted organic butter, cut into 1″ pieces (kept refrigerated)
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup ice water (I like to use a small liquid measure and remove the ice just before I use it)
- In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter, coat with flour by tossing with the end of a dull knife, and process with pulses until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds).
- Pour 1/4 cup ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If you notice that some flour/butter mixture at the bottom of the work bowl is not being incorporated, stop processor and remove lid so you can turn it a few times with a rubber spatula. Add remaining water, if necessary (I had to use 1/2 cup). Do not process more than 30 seconds.
- Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to help gather it into a ball. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, flatten each portion into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour before using. This will chill the butter and allow the gluten in the flour to relax.
Prepare the filling while the dough chills.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie or Tart Filling
- 1 lb. fresh rhubarb chopped into 1/4 inch pieces, stalks only (leaves are toxic)
- 1 lb. washed, hulled, and sliced strawberries (in 1/2 inch pieces) (preferably organic or local)
- 3/4 cups sugar
- ¼ C minute tapioca (available in supermarkets)
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I’m substituting ginger this year; orange would be a fine substitute.)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (I’m substituting ginger this year and using my Japanese ginger grated with a well for juice.)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 lightly beaten egg white
- Mix together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca, zest and juice of lemon, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl and let sit for 15 minutes while you roll out the crust. This will give the tapioca a chance to become moistened with the fruit juices that flow from the addition of sugar.
Preheat Oven to 425 degrees Farenheit
- Once the pastry has chilled for at least 30 minutes, remove the two disks of pastry from the refrigerator and let sit 5-10 minutes to warm a bit so they don’t crack upon being rolled out. On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk out thin enough to line your pie plate and no thinner than 1/4 inch. Always start from the middle with the rolling pin and lift and turn as your roll to ensure a round shape and make sure it isn’t sticking. Roll prepared crust onto rolling pin, dust off excess flour with a pastry brush and carefully place into pie plate, gently pressing in to place. Trim any excess dough even with pie plate using a paring knife.
- Fill the bottom crust with well stirred filling. Roll out second disk large enough to fit on top, roll onto pin, dust off excess flour and carefully place on top. Trim dough to within 3/4 inch of pie plate, fold top crust under bottom crust so both are even with the edge. Seal by pressing together top and bottom and crimping with a fork or with your fingers into the classic triangle pattern. Vent crust in four places using a paring knife or cut out a few circles or hearts. If you want to get fancy, use some small pastry cutters to cut out shapes from the dough before you place it on the pie. Glaze with egg white.
- Place in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to firm up the pastry before baking. You want very cold butter to get a flaky crust.
- Place well chilled pie onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower to 375 degrees and bake another 45 minutes or until the filling begins to bubble from the vents.
- Let cool on a wire rack completely before eating so it can set up. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The pie can be warmed in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.
- Serve alone or with freshly whipped cream.
Please share your pie-making expereince and your favorite rhubarb and strawberry recipes below or on our Facebook page, facebook.com/FairfieldGreenFoodGuide.