This past weekend was spectacular. The weather has been so nice and I am embracing spring in Texas and trying hard not to think too much about what summer will bring. We spent this weekend at my husband’s family lake house on Lake LBJ, northwest of Austin. While we were there we took a little trip to Sweet Berry Farms. It’s in Marble Falls, a quick drive from the lake. It’s a quaint and fun place to visit for berry picking in the spring and summer. It’s also where Ben and I got engaged 9 years ago. Yes, NINE. So visiting this past weekend was sweet and nostalgic for me.
We picked strawberries and had a lovely time (except for my son who kind of lost it due to lack of good sleep and just being 3 1/2.) If you are ever in the area, please make the time to visit, especially during blackberry season. Blackberry cobbler is what summer is all about! And other things too, I guess. But mainly cobbler.
My mother-in-law and I split the berries and my brain was working on all kinds of ways to use them. I don’t subscribe to Food Network Magazine, but picked up a copy last week to have some mindless reading material for the lake. When I saw the recipe in the magazine for strawberry rhubarb pie right after we’d been berry picking I knew it was a sign. Plus I’d never made or even eaten a strawberry rhubarb pie before. I had to give it a try.
I had a few hiccups with this pie. First the crust. It says to chill it for 30 minutes. I chilled it for an hour. I rolled it out between parchment but when I went to transfer it to the pie plate I lost half of it, all stuck to the parchment in a seriously gooey mess. So I tossed it and decided to try a different crust recipe. I went with this one from Smitten Kitchen.
Unfortunately I’d already made the filling, anticipating that the first crust was going to work out. Silly me! Fruit releases juice when it sits with sugar and lemon juice, and strawberries and rhubarb release a LOT of juice. I stuck it in the fridge while I waited for my new crusts to chill for 2 hours. I think 2 hours is the minimum time for pie crust, you just can’t rush that step. Unless you roll out the dough between parchment first and then chill it in the freezer…wish I’d thought of that…
After rolling out the new crust I went to fill it. I used a slotted spoon and left all of the liquid in the bowl. I had a tough time doing it since I knew that stuff had to be good. But I am so glad I resisted the urge to add a little to the pie. As the pie baked it released even more juice and even managed to escape the pie plate and get all over the bottom of my oven and fill the kitchen with smoke. Fun times. I can’t imagine the mess if I’d added more liquid. NOTE: This is why you put foil under fruit pies when you bake them.
A lattice top adds something so special to pie. It takes a little extra time than just a top crust, but is well worth the effort. A little cream and turbinado sugar on top creates a terrifically crunchy and beautiful topping. Don’t skip this step.
After cooling the pie I cut a slice and knew that we were in for a mess. Maybe the filling could use more flour for thickener? Or maybe this is just the way it is with this type of pie. But there was lots of juicy goodness going on that creates a delicious, but not incredibly aesthetically pleasing piece of pie. The bottom crust was pretty soggy, but the top crust was so crunchy that I didn’t care a bit. We enjoyed this a la mode, but fresh whipped cream or simply plain would be great. The filling is tart and sweet but not cloying. The rhubarb cooks down so nicely and gives a texture to the filling that strawberries alone could not achieve. And again, that top crust. Amazing.
So if you find yourself with some strawberries and/or rhubarb this summer, give this a try. Or these, or this. Or THIS! Tis the season! Why has it taken me this long to try rhubarb? The checker at the grocery store didn’t even know what it was. Oh, and if you have access to free or cheap rhubarb, be ever so thankful. I had no idea it was so expensive, almost $8/pound at our HEB. Someone tell me, where can I get it for less?
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Filling adapted ever so slightly from Food Network Magazine
Crust from Smitten Kitchen
- 2 sticks of cold butter, cut into cubes
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2-3/4 cup ice cold water
- heavy cream, half and half or milk
- coarse or turbinado sugar
- 1 pound rhubarb, end trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar and salt together.
- Add in the cold butter cubes and using either your hands or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is relatively evenly incorporated with just a few larger pieces.
- Pour in 1/2 cup of the cold water and use either a spatula or your hands to bring the dough together. Add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough seems dry.
- Turn out onto a clean work surface and work into a nice ball of dough.
- Cut in half, take each piece and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours.
- Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425°F and place a piece of foil or a foil lined cookies sheet on the lower rack.
- Roll one dough ball out (between parchment if you like that method) on the counter into an 11-12 inch circle. Transfer to a 9 inch pie plate, press into the plate and leave the overhang.
- Fill with the strawberry filling.
- Roll the other dough ball out into an 10-11 inch circle.
- Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to slice the dough into long strips, between 1/2 and 1 inch wide.
- Lay out half of the strips on to the pie, evenly spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Use strips that are longer in the middle and shorter on the edges.
- Peel back every other strip and lay a strip perpendicular to the first set, replace those strips, peel back the others and repeat. Here is a truly entertaining step-by-step for this. (Complete with toddler commentary!)
- Trim off any excess from the lattice work, then fold the overhang from the bottom crust over the edges and crimp everything together.
- Brush the crust with cream, then sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven to 375F and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is nicely browned. Don’t forget to put foil or a foil lined cookie sheet on the rack under the pie!
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing and serving. Serve with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.