Monday, July 31, 2006

Rhubarb Blueberry Pie: Recipe

I have confession to make. Just the thought of making pastry scares me. With savory food you can usually fix whatever you're making along the way. You can taste for seasonings and for "doneness". But when you bake something you just don't have that option. It's all some science experiment with bamboo skewers and formulas. With enough practice, I imagine you get to the point where you know how juicy your fruit will become in the oven, how long to whip the egg whites, when your dough is properly chilled, how much sugar is just enough, when to add lemon and when to add vanilla. But me, I fret. I try to find a good recipe and pray it works. When it does I treasure it.

I've never believed I was capable of making a pie. But I was lured into it this Summer by a number of food blogs with their tantalizing pie posts. So I gave it a go. I made a variation on the classic Cuisinart crust, the filling was a mixture of blueberries and rhubarb with just a sprinkling of cornstarch and sugar. Not surprisingly the hardest part was the crust. My hands are so hot that I had a tough time with the lattice because the dough got softer and softer as I continued. By the last couple of strips I had to stick the dough in the freezer for a bit to firm it up.

I'm convinced I was channeling equal parts of my sister Jeanne, who has always had a way with pastry dough and Shuna, pastry chef a.k.a. Eggbeater. My sisters influence came through in the use of the food processor and a general patient, confident approach. Shuna's gentle instructions were why I started with a much cleaner workspace than usual, used only butter in the crust and chose a combination of fruits to balance sweetness and texture.

How did it turn out? To put it politely it was "rustic looking" but more importantly, it was pretty darn tasty. It was sweet from the blueberries, with a bit of rhubarb tang, the fruit managed to be juicy when you bit into it and yet still firm, and it had none of that dreaded pie "goop". Better than the apple pie I made with a friend in high school. Though we had fun, the pie was inedible. Thinking back on it, it must have been because we didn't properly channel the pie goddesses.

Note: If you are in a silly mood feel free to call this Rhuberry or Bluebarb pie as my goofball husband does.

Tips: I use a shiny aluminum pan, if you use a glass pan lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees. Matte finish or dark pans should produce a darker crust than shiny pans. Not sure your pie pan size? Measure from inside rim to inside rim. See, I told you this pastry stuff was a science experiment!

Rhubarb Blueberry Pie
serves about 8


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
about 5 tablespoons ice water, maybe a little more

2 cup rhubarb cut into smallish chunks
2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch


Mix filling ingredients together and set aside.
Whiz the first three ingredients for 10 seconds. Cut the butter into about 10-15 pieces and toss it in the food processor. Pulse until the butter is in pea-sized chunks, no smaller. Add the water a little at a time and pulse until the dough is super crumbly but will hold together if you squeeze it. Don't process it into a "ball". Dump dough into a bowl and squeeze it into a ball then flatten the ball into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the dough. Press dough into an 8 inch pie pan, toss the filling ingredients well and place in the pan. Use the scraps to form lattice strips. Weave strips across the top of your pie. Place pie on a baking sheet covered in foil, parchment or a silicone baking mat. After 20 minutes check to make sure it's not getting to brown and turn it around in the oven to ensure even baking. Bake for another 20 minutes (40 minutes total). The sugar and cornstarch should be completely dissolved.

Let cool for as long as you can bear, at least 45 minutes. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream of course.