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Time for Rhubarb!

11-May-2009
 
 
 
 
 
I am especially excited about rhubarb season this year.  I plant I’ve had for a few years has really come into it’s own and I’m going to get a nice batch this year.  I picked a few stems this weekend – just enough to make either a small pie or two adorable rustic tarts.  I use the same recipe for both, the only difference is that I roll the dough a little thinner for the pie.  I like my rustic tarts to have a substantial crust on them.  It makes it easier to pick up a piece and eat it with your hands if you are so inclined.  Well, except it’s still a bit hard to keep the filling from falling out all over the place! 
 
My mom was one of the best pie-makers around and she always used all Crisco in her pie dough recipe.  Over the years I’ve switched to half butter and half Crisco.  I like the flavor of the butter but appreciate the no-fail dough the Crisco creates. 
 
Pie Dough
(makes 2 crusts)
 
 cup shortening
⅓ cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
2 cups flour
½ cup cold water
½ tsp. salt
 
Mix salt, 1 cup flour, butter and shortening with a pastry blender until crumbly.  Add the balance of the flour and all of the water, Mix with pastry cutter until the water is mixed in and the dough is coming together.  Finish bringing it together with your hands trying not to warm it too much.  The butter should still be visible in the dough. 
 
Divide the dough into two equal portions, flatten into thick disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the rhubarb. 
 
Rhubarb Filling
5 generous cups of rhubarb cut into 1" pieces
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon, if desired
 
Mix dry ingredients together and then sprinkle over the rhubarb.  Toss the rhubarb with the sugar mixture and let sit for at least 15 minutes.  The rhubarb will get a little juicier so toss the ingredients again.  You’ll still have some of the dry mixture settling to the bottom of the bowl. 
 
Assembling
For the pie:
Roll out both pieces of dough, making sure the dough is sized to fit your pie plate.  Place one circle of dough in the pie plate, add the filling (including any "leftover" sugar mixture).  Dot the rhubarb with small pieces of butter, if desired, then place the top piece of dough over the top.  Trim and crimp the edges and cut a few steam vents in the top. 
 
Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 375° and bake an additional 45 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the filling bubbling.  Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes to allow the rhubarb to thicken. 
 
For the tarts: 
Roll the dough out to two 9" (or so) circles. They should be about ¼" thick. You may need to roll out a little larger and then trim the circles down a bit.   You can either place the shells into small pans, as I’ve done in the photo above, or just place them flat on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Put half of the fruit in each shell, making sure you also evenly divide the remaining sugar mixture between the two shells.  If using the flat shells keep the filling toward the center, leaving a 1" – 1½" border around the edge. 
 
Once the filling is divided, bring the extra dough up and around crimping as you go, to create a stand-up border.  If using the baking sheet, make sure you pinch the shell up to form a little rim as rhubarb gets really juicy when cooking. 
 
Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 375° and bake an additional 35 – 40 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the filling bubbling.  Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes to allow the rhubarb to thicken. 
 
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