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I was 18
when I first tasted rhubarb pie and sensed immediately 18 years of missed
opportunities to eat my favorite pie on earth.  I’m sure it’s mainly the intense tartness requiring intense
sweetness combined with a sweet flakey crust that almost candies on the bottom that I adore, but
part of my affection is also the bizarre notion that it’s a vegetable pie!  I love the green and red colors as
well, and of course the pie's association with spring (it’s not even May yet but
with 80 degree temps I’m already eager for it).

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me one of the things that makes a rhubarb pie fun to create is the lattice crust.  It’s
pretty to look at but there’s a functional element to the lattice as well.  Rhubarb is a moist vegetable that
releases copious amounts of liquid. 
The open network allows good reduction of the bubbling liquids.  A closed lid wouldn’t, and no top crust
diminishes the pleasure of the pie.

I
love a rich buttery crust and so always use butter.  And pie dough, which makes some cooks nervous, is simple if
you follow, yes, the pie dough Ratio 3-2-1 flour-fat-water, and remember that
the less you work the dough, the better it will be.  Cut the butter into the flour and add just enough ice water
to bring the dough together (you want it cold to keep the butter from
softening).  If you have a scale it
takes only a few minutes—set a bowl on the scale and add your ingredients.  I like
to have plenty of dough to ensure I’ve got long enough lattices (eft over dough can be sprinkled with coarse sugar and baked).  The device that creates the decorative
edge is called a fluted pastry wheel, and I love it, but a knife works just as well.

Spring means asparagus and baby lettuces but it also means to me, be-bop a-re-bop
rhubarb pie

Recipe and Donna’s instructional pix below:

 Be-Bop A-Re-Bop Rhubarb Pie

15 ounces flour (about three cups)
three-finger pinch of salt (about a teaspoon)
10 ounces cold butter, diced
5 ounces ice water (or as needed)
12 ounces sugar (1½ cups)
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup cornstarch
1½ pounds rhubarb, small diced (about five cups)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the flour salt and butter and cut or work the butter into the flour till the butter is in pea-sized chunks.  Add just enough ice water to bring the dough together.  Divide in two for each half into a disc and refrigerate for about twenty minutes or up to a day.

Roll out your dough into a large rectangle about 3/16th of an inch thick.  Invert your pie plate on the dough and use the rest for strips.  It needs to be large enough to fill a pie plate and for nine ¾-inch strips the diameter of the pie plate.  You may also cut 1/3 of the dough off and roll out separately for strips.

Lay the the dough into the pie plate leaving about an inch of dough overhanging the edge.  Using a pastry wheel or knife, cut nine ¾-inch strips the length of the pie plate (not all need to be that long, but at least five do).

When your dough is ready, combine the sugar, spices and cornstarch and stir to distribute the spices and cornstarch.  In a large bowl, toss the sugar mixture with the rhubarb until it’s evenly coated (if you do this too early, the sugar leaches out too much water before it goes into the dough).  Pour the rhubarb mixture into the pie plate.  Place five strips of dough horizontally at even intervals across the pie.  Fold the first, third and fifth strips back to the edge and lay one strip of dough vertically across the horizontal strips.  Fold the first, third and fifth horizontal strips back then fold the second and fourth strips back to the first vertical strip.  Lay a second vertical strip an equal distance from the first one.  Fold the second and fourth strips back.  Repeat the process with the final lattice strips.

Place pie on a baking sheet and back for 1 to 1 ¼ hour or until the fruit is bubbling and hot and the crust is golden brown.  Allow to cool completely before cutting.

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