I decided if I was going to start a blog about baking, it had to start with where baking started for me.
I hadn't known my husband very long before I knew his favorite pie is Strawberry Rhubarb. Well that’s great; I had never made a pie in my life. This was not something I jumped right into. We had been married about 5 years before I ever attempted to make one for him. We lived in Alturas, California at the time. Have you ever lived in the middle of nowhere? It makes you feel like a brave pioneer that can do anything, so I set my mind to learning how to make a pie. My friend Ellen was very “domestic” so I asked her for some tips. Turns out her mother used to make pies and sell them, so I figured this was going to be some good advice!! Her main tips were: use the coldest and least amount of water possible while making your pie crust. Don’t over handle the crust. Use a fork to make A LOT of holes in the crust. Use more flour than the recipe calls for so the flour/sugar mixture is thicker. Put a layer of your flour/sugar mixture on the bottom to keep your crust from getting soggy. So with that amount of information alone, I grabbed my Betty Crocker Cookbook that we had received as a wedding gift and got to work.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have made this pie since that first time. But I can tell you, after all these years; I still don’t have the recipe memorized. When we were moving in 2007 and my cookbook was lost I cried and was heartbroken for days. Then it occurred to me….eBay! I got busy looking and soon found the EXACT edition of my lost cookbook. So to this day, I am still using the original recipe I started with. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
FRESH STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB PIE
Pastry for 9-inch Two-Crust Pie (recipe below)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cups flour (I use about 2/3 cup)
½ teaspoon grated orange peel (optional)
2 cups cut-up fresh rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces)
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries (I quarter mine)
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
STANDARD PASTRY 9-inch Two-Crust Pie
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 tablespoons COLD water (I typically use 3-4)
Cut shortening into flour and salt with a fork until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl.
Gather pastry into a ball (without overworking); shape one half into a flattened round on lightly floured board or pastry mat. Roll pastry 2 inches larger than inverted pie plate. I use my pastry mat, lifting from one side, to gently roll pastry over the top of my rolling pin and then transfer bottom crust to pie plate. Put other half of crust in refrigerator until pie is assembled.
Trim overhanging edge of pastry ½ inch from the rim of pie plate. Prick bottom and sides thoroughly with a fork.
Mix the flour, sugar and orange peel together in a bowl. Mix the strawberries and rhubarb together in another bowl.
Pour about ½ cup of the flour/sugar mixture on the bottom of pie crust. If you are using a pie bird, now is when to place it in the center of your pie.
Turn half of the strawberries and rhubarb into the pie crust; sprinkle with half of the flour/sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining fruit and sugar mixture; dot with butter. Roll out the top crust. Top pie with top crust that has slits cut in it. Trim overhanging edge of pasty 1 inch from pie plate; seal and flute.
Cover pie crust edge with 2-3 inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil during the last 15 minutes of baking. I place my pie plate on a cookie sheet for easy transferring to the oven and in case juice bubbles over. Bake at 425 until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust, about 40-50 minutes. (I always bake mine 50 minutes)
It’s easy to give your crust a blue-ribbon look. Take your choice- shiny, sugary or glazed. For a shiny top, brush the crust lightly with milk before baking. For a sugary crust, use your fingers or a pastry brush to moisten crust lightly with water, and then sprinkle on a little sugar. To glaze a crust, brush lightly with beaten egg (or egg yolk mixed with a little water) before baking. I like “Shiny-Sugary” so I use milk and sugar to top mine.
You can make a Fresh Rhubarb Pie by using 4 cups of cut-up rhubarb and increasing sugar to 1 2/3 cups.