There’s nothing that tastes more like summer to me than strawberry rhubarb pie! Growing up, my favourite summer treats were always my grandma’s homemade strawberry rhubarb jam, rhubarb crisp, and of course pie. Rhubarb grows abundantly where I live, so there is always plenty to use up every summer. In Fort McMurray, if you don’t have any growing in your yard, then you can almost guarantee your neighbour will and that they probably have more than they know what to do with. So, if you have a rhubarb plant, or a generous neighbour on your block, make sure to grab some before summer is gone!
I was surprised this spring when I introduced rhubarb to my junior high and high school students and found that many of them had never seen nor tried it before. We made a rhubarb crisp and some rhubarb breakfast muffins so that they could experience the taste of this tart reddish green stalk that I love so much! Many of them enjoyed it, but for some of them the tartness and the texture took some getting used to. I find the combination of rhubarb with strawberries is always a winner, and creates a bright and balanced sweet/tart pie or jam.
The crust recipe for this pie is my all-time favourite pie crust recipe that I use for every pie that I make. It is a pate brisee dough, which is simply just flour, butter, salt, sugar (sometimes), and water. It results in the most flaky, tender, buttery crust that can be used for both savoury and sweet pies. I am a huge believer that pastry is meant to be made with ALL butter only. No shortening. That stuff is awful. Never sacrifice the flavour of butter for shortening just because it is more forgiving to work with! You can get great pastry easily with all butter as long as you keep your ingredients and hands nice and cold, and don’t overwork the dough. I hope my pie crust recipe is detailed enough to give you successful results, but if you have any questions or if something goes horribly wrong, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I’ll do my best to help troubleshoot! I don’t want anyone to be intimidated by making a homemade pie from scratch, because truly nothing can compare to a homemade, all butter pastry. The more you practice and a get a feel for working with the flour, the butter, and the water, the better your technique will become. And remember, if your pastry doesn’t look pretty but still tastes delicious, then that’s all that really matters.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Pie Crust Ingredients:
- 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1” cubes
- 1/4-1/2 cup ice water (you may need up to 2-3 Tablespoons additional water)
- 3 cup sliced fresh rhubarb
- 3 cups chopped fresh strawberries
- 3/4-1 cup granulated sugar (adjust to your preferred sweetness depending on the ripeness of your rhubarb and the sweetness of your strawberries)
- 3 Tablespoons tapioca starch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of one lemon
- few pinches of cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons butter cut into small pieces
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons water
For the Pie Crust:
Cut the butter into 1” cubes and place them on a plate. Put the butter and 1/2 cup of water in the freezer to chill while you measure the rest of the ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar until combined.
Once the butter is very cold (not frozen), remove it from the freezer and add half into the bowl with the flour. Using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut the butter into the flour until pea-sized chunks of butter remain. Add the remaining half of the butter and continue to cut it into the flour, leaving some bigger-sized chunks this time.
Pour in 1/4 cup of the ice cold water into the flour/butter mixture and stir with a sturdy rubber spatula or a spoon to begin working the water into the flour. If there is still a lot of dry, crumbly bits of flour at this point, begin adding more ice water and continuing to stir it into the dough. This is the most variable part of the recipe because you may not need to use all the water, and sometimes you may need even a couple Tablespoons more water. Use your hand to press the dough into a rough ball and when it can hold together without dry chunks of dough scattering everywhere then you know it has enough water. Don’t knead the dough like you would bread dough, just press it together a few times until it holds. It should not be smooth like bread dough or pizza dough, and you may notice chunks of butter throughout, which is excellent – this is what will make a nice flaky pie crust.
Turn the rough dough ball out of the bowl onto the countertop and cut it evenly in half. Quickly shape each half of dough into a round disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. You can also freeze the dough once it is made if you don’t plan to use it right away and it will keep well for 2-3 months.
For the Pie:
Preheat the oven 425°F and move rack to the lower third of the oven.
Remove one of the discs of pie dough from the fridge and unwrap it from the plastic wrap. Place it on a lightly floured counter top and use a heavy rolling pin to pound the disc even thinner before you start rolling it out. I find this helps start off the rolling process much more easily than trying to begin just rolling out a cold, thick disc straight from the fridge.
Roll out the pastry disc into a circle. I start from the center of the disc and roll up, then down, then left, then right. I will lift the disc up every now and then to make sure it isn’t sticking to the counter and if I need to even out the circle. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly round! Keep rolling until it is about 2” wider than your 9” pie plate.
Place the dough in the pie plate, and trim the excess dough, leaving about a 1” overhang around the edge of the pie plate.
In large bowl, stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca starch, lemon zest, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour into the pie shell; dot the top of the filling with the small pieces of butter.
Roll out the second disc of pie dough in the same way that you did for the bottom crust. If you would like to do a lattice top (pictured) then use a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut the rolled out circle of dough into strips. You can make them any width you’d like to, just aim for them to be the same width. If you just want to make a regular double crust pie, then roll the circle large enough to cover the top of the pie plate and overhang about 2” just like the bottom crust.
Whisk the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water to make the egg wash to “glue” to top and bottom crusts together and for brushing on the top crust of the pie.
Brush some of the egg wash over the edge of the bottom pie crust; arrange the lattice strips over top, then trim off the excess strips around the edges of the crust. Pinch the lattice strips and the bottom crust together. You can use your thumb, middle and forefinger to pinch the crust into a fluted edge, or you could also use the tines of a fork to press all the way around the crust – it is completely up to you. If you make a double crust pie with no lattice, just place the second round of pie dough on top of the filling, trim away the excess dough around the edges, and then use your fingers or a fork to pinch together the top and bottom crusts. Be sure to cut some steam vents into the top crust so that it doesn’t burst once it goes into the oven (a few pokes with your paring knife will do, or you can make a pretty pattern or design).
Evenly brush the top of the crust with the egg wash. This will give the finished pie a beautiful golden shine.
Place the pie on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil to catch any filling that drips out (this will save you sooo much hassle in oven cleaning). Bake on the bottom rack of 425°F oven until top is light golden, about 16-18 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F, then bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 50 minutes.
Let the pie completely cool in pan to allow the filling to set. Slice and serve as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I find that the flavour of the filling and the texture of the pie crust improve over time, so this pie is even better the day after it is made! I’ve stored this pie covered on the counter for a day or two and covered in the fridge, and both ways work just fine to keep it fresh.
*Here is a tutorial video for how to make a lattice-top pie crust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ5GUvXhQN0