rhubarb pie, please

rhubarb-pie.jpg.jpegGreat-aunt Helen’s recipe box has yet again yielded riches. Seasonal riches at that. With rhubarb growing strong in the backyard, my family had been making noises about bringing that rhubarb inside and putting it in a pie.

So when I came across this recipe:20160510_103330.jpgrhubarb-pie-second-side.jpg.jpegI knew we had found our project for this week’s installment of Great-aunt Helen’s Recipe Box.

Helen most certainly used the rhubarb she had springing up in her postage stamp-size backyard. My mom, her niece, has no memories of this particular pie, though does remember Helen’s love of baking pies as well as the small jars of rhubarb sauce she would make with that same rhubarb.

Calling for an “unbaked shell” leaves room for improv. Store-bought pie dough is perfectly acceptable. (I’ve read that Pillsbury’s brand is indistinguishable from homemade.) But if you’ve been here before you know I made the crust myself as my kitchen mantra is usually of the stubborn-toddler “me do it!” variety. (Which much like dealing with that toddler, can be exasperating.) More importantly, Helen made her crusts from scratch, even if it meant putting up a pastry board in her tiny kitchen so she’d have room to roll.

Because the pie filling was basic, I branched out with the crust. Susan G. Purdy’s Family Baker offered a recipe containing more than the usual flour, salt, chilled butter, and ice water.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 to 8 tablespoons ice water

In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until broken down into pea-size clumps. Stir in lemon juice. Gradually stir in ice water just until dough forms. Divide dough into halves; form each half into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 5 or so minutes.

On floured surface, roll one ball of dough into circle large enough to fit 9-inch pie pan with 1 inch hanging over side. Transfer crust to pan. Fill and top with second crust as directed.

Purdy’s dough was a dream to work with–neither too sticky nor too dry. The lattice, per Helen’s instructions, came together with minimal fuss. For the first time in my pie-making experience, making a pie was truly Easy As Pie.20160509_154532.jpg

Back to that filling: No amount was given for the butter; I used about 1 tablespoon. As well, the butter was written to go on after the lattice was formed, which didn’t seem right. I dropped the butter pieces on before adding the top crust.

The second side of Helen’s card mentioned using an extra egg if the eggs are small, which struck me as quaint. When was the last time you saw small eggs at your local grocers? And in June of ’83, Helen noted that an extra 10 minutes in the oven was needed. Thirty minutes (10 at 450ยบF, remaining 20 at 350ยบF.) just wasn’t enough. That extra 10 allowed for better browning.rhubarb-pie_01.jpg.jpegMy one addition was brushing the unbaked crust with milk and sprinkling with salted-caramel sugar (Mother’s Day gift!). A simple sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar would do nicely, too, though any embellishment is optional as the pie is lovely as-is.


whipped cream entirely optional–this pie doesn’t need any help

If you live in area where rhubarb is readily available this time of year, I encourage you to grab a bunch and get baking. This pie is too simple to not make and even simpler if you go for that store-bought crust.

The downside is that the pie may disappear just as quickly as it came together. Ours was history within 24 hours. Which means I’ll have to throw another one together if there’s any hope of finding a cocktail to pair it with for next week’s installment of Cocktail U. Please do return so we see how this all turns out ๐Ÿ™‚

25 thoughts on “rhubarb pie, please

  1. Look at you, getting your golden latticework on. Love the image of her tiny backyard and tiny kitchen; Aunt Helen should have upgraded to a McMansion, no? I am picturing a woman and pearls and heels and an apron (probably not like her at all), putting one foot into the garden to retrieve the rhubarb.

    • lovely image, but you’re way off. Chunky sandles, sensible pants and tops, short shag hair-cut. Rustic type of gal. Liked to camp in remote locations – had to hike in. She was nobody’s fool.

        • lol, thank you for helping me spell sandals correctly! I couldn’t figure out why spellcheck wouldn’t take what I wrote, but didn’t take the time to figure it out. You are my editor ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, her pants probably had elastic, especially in the later years.

    • Leave it to you to notice the linens ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s one of a set of four napkins! Thanks for stopping by, Kerry. Love that we are connected. Thanks for hanging in even after I dropped out for a bit.

  2. Oh yum!! I love that you have rhubarb growing in your backyard! And the ‘me do it’ toddler analogy..love that!! Now, hand me a fork, please ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Pingback: getting our (whiskey) fix | food for fun

  4. OH I love everything about this post, from Aunt Helen growing rhubarb in her tiny yard to your gorgeous pie and approximating the butter and your own pie crust. Everything about this is just perfect. Love the salted caramel sugar Mother’s Day gift and the idea of a small egg. I like how Aunt Helen continually tweaked. Is there nothing sweet in this pie to counter the tartness of rhubarb? I kind of love that too. I’m trying this as soon as I get my hands on rhubarb!

    • Good to see you here – thanks for coming by ๐Ÿ™‚ There is 1 1/2 cups sugar in the recipe. Hard to focus on everything when it’s in someone else’s scrawl. One of the most interesting things to me in her recipe collection is how the writing got harder to decipher as she aged. Sad, kind of, but also a telling history of her aging.

      Your words are very kind (as always!)

  5. This looks delicious! I never have had rhubarb pie. Strawberry rhubarb pie, yes. For some reason I’ve never really used rhubarb much. Probably because I didn’t grow up wi it much. Maybe next year I should try growing it. I’ve been working on my pie crust skills and they are getting better. Your pie looks beautiful.

  6. Oooh! Liz, this has been my latest addiction, the perfect addition of salted caramel sugar was a marvelous gift from Mother’s Day! I barely eat chocolate any more, just living this new “craze!” ๐Ÿ™‚ pie with the brushed milk and special ingredient was wonderful. I am like Beth, need to request a piece sent “priority mail!” Lol


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