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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).

Rub 0151  For
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.

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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48 Wonderful responses to “Rhubarb Pie with Lattice Crust and the 3-2-1 Pie Dough”

  • Mrs. T.

    Rhubarb rules. It should be used more often by people and restaurants in both sweet and savory dishes. And that pie looks GREAT!

  • erik

    Beautiful. Mom is coming to town and loves rhubarb – can’t wait to make this for her. Where did you get your pastry wheel?

  • Kristine

    Just received my copy of Ratio. Have only read a few chapters, but I’m already thinking in terms of 3-2-1. Anxiously waiting on the chart. Thanks!

  • Laura

    God I haven’t had a pie in ages. I’m totally on board with this whole rhubarb in April thing…you’ve got my mouth watering!

  • Bruce Libby

    try Strawberry-rhubarb pie, I think it is the greatest pie on earth, the tartness of the rhubarb, the sweetness of the berries, flaky crust. yum

  • sbp

    When making fruit pies, especially with high moisture fruit, I always seal the bottom crust before baking. Generally, I use melted white chocolate (with a little melted butter mixed in to thin it somewhat). Brush on a coat (all the way up the sides) with a pastry brush and offset spatula. I’ve had fruit pie 3 days later with a crispy bottom crust. (I hate the white gummy mess of a soaked bottom crust).

  • joelfinkle

    I don’t know if you mention it in Ratio, but how do you feel about Cooks Illustrated’s tip on replacing half the water in a pie crust with vodka (or similar spirit)? The alcohol evaporates at a lower temp meaning flakier crust, while maintaining a flexible dough because it doesn’t activate gluten.

  • ruhlman

    joel, that’s fascinating, hadn’t heard that. but will try! love the supernerds at cooks illustrated!

    claudia, it’s from garrison keiller, addison used to like that ditty when she was young and so that is the official name of rhubarb pie in out household.

    pastry wheel was bought at williams sonoma. i think.

  • Rhonda


    I just seen this too. I am anxious to try.

    Michael, the pie looks delish but I am going to have to wait a bit before making because I was a total glutton last week. I have a different type of swine flu. Fortunately, mine can be easily remidied.

  • Mike F

    Strawberry rhubarb is an even better combination (IMHO). I did like the technique on the lattice top! Just started Ratio, and reading it cover to cover, not like a ‘cookbook’.

  • Matt

    Michael, the pie looks great! My rhubarb beds are a few weeks from first harvest, so I can’t wait to give your recipe a try… just don’t anyone tell Mom. 🙂

  • Martha

    Be-bop-a-rebop! That’s a Prairie Home Companion reference Claudia. Thanks for simplifying a rite of spring Michael. And “sbp” stop that white choc. thing and just put your pie on the deck of your over for 15 minutes at the beginning of baking, or, make sure your bottom crust isn’t rolled too thickly.

  • nancy buchanan

    Thanks for posting this … I am glad to know that I am not the only one who LOVES rhubarb pie – my gran used to make it and it was, of all her pies, my favorite!

  • 123

    I usually use the Julia Child pie dough recipe – which recommends using about a 50/50 mix of butter and vegetable shortening for the fat. Adding a little shortening gives a wonderful flakiness to the crust, but you still have the butter to preserve the taste and structure.

  • claudia (cook eat FRET)

    btw – you start talking pie crust and everyone has an opinion. except me. ever notice that?

    personally, i think there’s a pastry gene. which i don’t have.

    so, i just never make them. but i wouldn’t mind trying. again. just once. i’ve yet to be successful – like in a memorable way.

    AND most pies i eat rarely have great crusts so i just wind up eating the filling…

  • JoP in Omaha

    Wish you could share that pie with us!

    I find that weather affects how much water I have to put in pie crust. I follow your guide…I add just enough water to bring the dough together. In humid weather, I use less water than I do when the air is dry.

  • sbp

    Joel and Michael: I’ve made the Cooks Illustrated pie dough with Vodka many times. The technique works — sort of. Definitely wards off gluten formation, as the resulting dough is very forgiving and I’ve yet to make a tough crust with it.

    However, if you follow the CI recipe, it makes a VERY soft dough. It rolls out like a dream, with no cracking whatsoever (which has always been my problem since I add so little water). But when I go to pick up the dough to place in the pie pan, it simply falls apart in my hands. The recipe mentions the “possible” need to work in more flour when rolling it out, but it doesn’t indicate that this can be quite a bit of flour — maybe a 1/2 cup.

    Of course, adding in flour, rolling it out, having it fall apart, adding in more flour, etc. — you wind up working the dough even more than in a conventional recipe. That being said, my crusts have still been fine. Nevertheless, I’ve taken to simply adding the extra flour up front.

  • carri

    I like this Pie dough Ratio…very similar to the one we use, but I like to add a little sugar and an egg to the liquid for a little more flavor and richness! I wish we had rhubarb up, ours still looks like the ‘Alien’ sprouting forth!

  • Natalie Sztern

    how does one know when to pre-bake (blind?) a pie crust or not?

    the pastry wheel can also be bought at a sewing store – there it is called a pattern wheel and does the job probably much cheaper…

  • Cookin' Canuck

    My husband will be so happy. He absolutely adores rhubarb and loves rhubarb pie even more. When he was growing up, his grandparents owned a farm and they always had a bowl of stewed rhubarb on the table. He’s been hooked ever since. Thank you for the recipe!

  • Tags

    Keep this up and you’ll have to start a new website

  • radish

    I have your ratio book and have read it several times.
    i have made several things out of it genoise cake, pie dough, and biscuits. I am an old cook. But have just started baking. I am getting the idea that for pies any old ratio would do if you have the technique. Reading Ratio has sent me scurrying to other material, i.e. Shirley Corriher, and Gourmet tutorials, but I am darned if I can make a reliable crust or cake. There is more to cake and crust than meets the eye.

    I am very sorry that you did not include a ratio for casseroles.

  • luis

    3:2:1 ratio is a bit more difficult to work with than a 5:3 ? rusty here…

    With the old bread ratio my pizza dough ratio is 200g:120g and it is true because the cross products equal.

    Another words
    5/3 = 200/120
    and 5(120) = 3(200)
    or 600 = 600

    With 3:2:1 = 15:10:5 the ratios appear equal at a glance and
    3/2 = 15/10 and 2/1 = 10/5
    3(10)=15(2)and 2(5) = 1(10)
    30=30 and 10=10
    and life is good, I think this is right at least on an intuity level it seems right.
    If the first two ratios are right and the next two are right and so on and so on… the overall ratios (basic to actual recipe) are also right.
    I am embracing this new way to cook, I find it simple, creative and fun.

  • John

    @Natalie: As far as I can tell from reading Shirley Corriher’s Cookwise, any time the crust on something isn’t crispy enough, which will be with most fillings. I have still never made a pie crust, but armed with that book and the ratios, I may be able to pull it off.

    Now I just have to find some rhubarb at one of the markets. Not a lot of rhubarb here in Florida, although I used to eat quite a bit in New York. It used to grow in our back yard when I was growing up.

  • Clara

    Funny coincidence here, I made your 3-2-1 pie dough on Saturday (from my freshly purchased copy of Ratio). I followed your tip about the additional folding to make it extra flaky. Holy cow! This was hands-down the most delicious, flaky, tender, lively crust I have ever made – and I’ve been trying for years. THANK YOU. I have found pie dough nirvana and my baking will never be the same again.

  • Kate in the NW

    Yum, AND…
    (semi-random food fact): did you know that buckwheat isn’t actually any form of wheat at all, but a cousin of good ol’ rhubarb?

    You learn a lot of stuff when your kid is gluten-intolerant.

    (okay you probably DID know that, along with everything else, but I think it’s interesting).

    So what about a rhubarb pie with buckwheat crust?

  • Badger

    Rhubarb is my dad’s absolute favorite and it will always, always remind me of him. He used to grow it when we lived in OH but it doesn’t seem to grow well in the part of TX where we are now. If I can get hold of some, I’m totally going to make him this pie!

  • Mark Garso

    The pie looks absolutely perfect! I am going to try making the crust with butter – am interested in how that will turn out. My wife does prefer the rhubarb pie with strawberries but I think she’ll eat it without too!

    Mark F. Garso 3561

  • jeni

    perfect timing Michael- I was planning on making rhubarb pie this weekend! it’s one of my favorites too.

  • Michelle

    Makes me wanna bang out some pie tins, dust the room in flour, and sing and dance to a little Garrison Keillor.

  • luis

    If there were rules in the cooking world for combining vegetables and/or spices and rubs etc.
    and I think there are even though they may not be quantified as such…we could/can determine ratios for such.
    These things are analog outputs from the chefs understanding of flavors and experience.
    If you think of garlic and onions.. it seems the larger the veg the larger the ratio. Also it seems the smaller the veg the larger its concentration of active ingredient and potency. It all seems inter related and intertwined somehow.

  • mary

    I’m with you on a rhubarb-only pie — keep the strawberries away from mine, please. I like it tart! I’ve never added cinnamon and cloves though, will have to try that.

  • Lisa M

    I love your reference to PHC. Be-bop indeed.

    Thank you for inspiring me.

  • Bruce Libby

    since I posted about strawberry rhubarb pie in the comments, and since we got rhubarb from our CSA last week, I made one last night and my wife went into spasms it was so good, sweet with a tart aftertaste, actually pretty light (I sub brown sugar for white sugar), can’t wait to eat some more tonight

  • Amy

    I don’t like pie. Not sure why. I think I don’t like cooked fruit and berries. There’s one exception to this rule though: Rhubarb strawberry pie, which I love. In other news, I just can’t get behind the whole a la mode thing. Ruins everything. Those are two different desserts in my books.

  • Kamille

    As you write about 18 years missed…I felt the same way when I was introduced to this beloved vegetable. In fact, Spring means the smell of freshly cut rhubarb to make a pie.

  • Kate

    That’s a nice pastry wheel. Looks remarkably like the one I inherited from my grandmother, whose father made the wheel for her mother.

  • Jesse

    I just made this– my first pie, ever! I made a good many mistakes, and my lack of skill was obvious… but, darn if it doesn’t taste great– it had been ages since I’d had a rhubarb pie! Thanks, Michael!

  • Ashlea

    This pie looks delightful and I have been dying to try something with rhubarb. Looks like a great recipe!

  • wendyb

    I made this yesterday and it’s a great pie!
    First, your crust: the 3-2-1 formula is perfect (weighing everything makes it completely repeatable). I worked the butter in with a wire pastry blender & left it very rough, which I think helped make the crust super flakey.
    The filling: I skipped the spices (my pref.), but cutting the rhubarb into small dice and adding sugar/cornstarch at the very end gave it a really great texture – with almost no runniness. Thanks a zillion Mark – It was definitely a “Ruhlbarb” pie (thanks for that, Tags!)

  • Jasmine

    Hi Michael — I made this pie this weekend (after having my eye on it from when you first posted it) and it was delicious! I also want you to know a little ratio related story about making the crust: as I was weighing everything, I discovered that I had about 2 ounces less of butter than I needed. Well, I’ve had great luck with a pie crust of Rose Levy Berenbaum’s that calls for part cream cheese in the crust, and I figured the cream cheese tartness would go well with the rhubarb, so I tossed in two ounces of cream cheese, and used a little less water to compensate for the water in the cream cheese. It was a perfect crust, and the pie was a big hit. Thanks also for the detailed instructions about making the lattice, it was the easiest lattice crust I’ve ever made.

  • Alex

    I’ve used Delia Smith’s pastry recipe for many years, as it is basically the same as our traditional family recipe. She uses weights, but her ratio is 2:1 for flour:fat. I tried your ratio this evening, and it was a flop – at least based on what I’m used to. The dough was not the consistency I’m used to. Much shorter (as one would expect), and I couldn’t get it to hold together using my usual technique. A couple of things I’ll try the next time: butter (which brings the ratio closer to 2:1 based on its water content), or chilling the shortening more before combining with the flour. I’m not writing this recipe off yet, but it’s going to require some changes in the way I’m used to doing pastry.