In springtime, Strawberry-Rhubarb rivals apple for most popular pie. Of course, once the rhubarb is up, it is hard to wait the extra few weeks for the local strawberries to pair it with. Don't be tempted to cheat with off-season berries from Mexico or South America. It takes a flavorful, field-ripened berry to stand up to rhubarb.
Pastry chef Gale Gand taught this method to my former boss, Della Gossett, who taught it to me. I've never seen anyone else use it. With a little practice, it is a very fast way of slicing strawberries, and it ensures that each slice has a little bit of each part of the berry.
Rinse the berries under cold running water, then pat dry with paper towels or air dry. Cut straight across the top of the fruit, removing the stem and any "white shoulders" from the top of the berry. Next, place the berry cut-side down on a cutting board. Holding a paring knife at a 45-degree angle, slice diagonally through the strawberry. Rotate the berry a quarter turn counter-clockwise and make another cut. Repeat until the berry is sliced into bite-sized pieces.
At the pie shop, we use lots of different techniques to keep our double-crust fruit pies from getting soggy bottom crusts. One of my favorite showed up in several vintage cookbooks I turned to for research. Mix equal parts all-purpose flour and granulated sugar, then lightly dust it across the bottom of the pie shell before adding the fruit filling. The flour thickens the fruit juices before they can seep into the crust, and the sugar keeps the flour from clumping. At the shop we call it "Crust Dust" and keep a one-quart container of it ready at all times. It turns up in most of our fruit pie recipes, so you might want to do the same. Crust Dust can be stored indefinitely in an airtight container at room temperature.
Before we bake any of our sweet double-crust or chess pies, we like to brush the dough with equal parts whole milk and cream, a mixture we've christened "Pie Wash." Before settling on Pie Wash, I experimented with all kinds of glazes and washes, from whole eggs to straight cream. I baked off a few "naked" pies for comparison. The egg wash made the pie super shiny and evenly brown, but looked too finished or "prissy" for my taste—and it made the crust too crunchy. The naked pie looked too amateur. The heavy cream browned nicely, but the large amount of butterfat made the crust too soft. Pie Wash gets it just right. There is enough butterfat in the mixture to make the outer layer of the curst tender, but not enough to compromise the flakiness. It gives a slight shine and bakes to a nice golden brown. It's also great for sticking pie dough cutouts and sugar to the top of the pies.
Simply mix equal parts whole milk and cream in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Give it a good stir or the cream will float on top of the mixture.
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Halal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and TextureFruity, Sweet, Tart
Type of DishDessert, Pie
- 1 double-crust All-Butter Pie Dough shell
- 4 cups (454g) rhubarb, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
- 1 cup (113g) Japanese-cut strawberries (see Notes)
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (35g) cornstarch
- Pinch kosher salt
- Crust Dust (see Notes), for sprinkling
- Pie Wash (see Notes), for brushing the top of the pie
- Coarse-grained sugar, for sprinkling
Combine the rhubarb and strawberries in a large bowl.
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl. Pour over the fruit and toss until evenly coated.
Sprinkle Crust Dust into the empty pie shell.
Pour the rhubarb and strawberries into the crust, making sure to scrape out any dry ingredients that stick to the side of the bowl. Gently smooth the pie filling with a spatula.
Finish the pie according to the double-crust instructions (p. 39), then freeze for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Brush the top of pie with Pie Wash and sprinkle liberally with coarse-grained sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, rotating 180 degrees every 20 minutes, until the crust is dark golden brown and the juices are bubbling thickly through the vents.
Cool for at least 3 hours before slicing.
The unbaked pie can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 week. The baked pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
2013 Paula Haney