IT’S FINALLY RHUBARB SEASON
Rhubarb season is here at last, and I’ve made you this cherry rhubarb pie. As I write this, it’s unseasonably warm outside and I’ve got the back door open so I can hear the robins chirping in the tree out back. Just to the south of us, the temperature in Seattle set a new record high of 79 F yesterday. When I picked up the girls after work yesterday, we’d been home barely five minutes before they’d taken off all their clothes and were playing with the hose in the backyard. A bit early, perhaps (it is still mid-March, after all) but I appreciate their enthusiasm. We’re all eager for spring.
It’s a welcome change after what felt like a very long February. The Big Snow shut public schools down for 7 days. We all suffered a healthy dose of cabin fever as the days wore on. I’ll admit I was eager for the snow. But there are only so many times you can put a toddler’s mittens back on and explain that her hands will stay much warmer if she wears them. Later in the month, the girls also came down with the flu for the span of a week. And then there have been the groggy, grumpy mornings that I attribute to the time change. I’m ready for longer days and the warmth of the sun on my back.
Last year when rhubarb was ripe, I made a rhubarb apple pie with ginger and lemongrass. And here I am with rhubarb again – although this time it’s a sour cherry rhubarb pie with a different crust recipe that I dare say I like better. I’m determined to take full advantage of rhubarb season this year, and I have several recipes in mind that I look forward to sharing soon.
An excellent all butter pie crust recipe
I bought myself the Sister Pie book as a birthday gift late last year. During a good share of the winter, I spent my free evenings wrapped in a blanket on the sofa, sifting through the pages. I admired the beautiful deeply crimped pies, and read the stories behind the bakery and recipes. Their pie crust called my name. I discovered that it’s been widely shared (you can find it here, here, and a myriad of other places), and with good reason.
Sister Pie has a method for their pie crust that creates the most flaky, buttery layers. You can see the results in the photograph below. It’s basically a very simple laminated dough technique; you fold the dough into thirds and then roll it out again. I’d never considered this approach for a pie crust before. I’ll definitely be employing this technique again with my next pie.
SOUR CHERRIES – I had a bag of frozen sour cherries that I defrosted and used for this recipe. I’ve never been lucky enough to find them fresh in my area. You could definitely substitute regular cherries, either frozen or fresh. The pie will have more sweetness if you use regular cherries, but the rhubarb will help balance it out; you shouldn’t need to adjust the quantity of sugar.
LATTICE CRUST – I used a simple lattice made with dough strips cut to a width of 3/4 inch with a fluted pastry wheel. I found mine at a thrift store, but you can source a similar version here.
Cherry Rhubarb Pie
Sister Pie’s All-Butter Pie Dough
- 2 1/2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp (4g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp (6g) kosher salt
- 1 cup (226g; 8oz) unsalted butter, chilled
- 1 Tbsp (15mL) vinegar
- 1/2 cup (125mL) water (minus one tablespoon)
Cherry Rhubarb Pie Filling
- 3 cups (450g) sour cherries (you can substitute regular sweet if not available)
- 2 cups (244g) rhubarb, diced into small cubes
- 1/3 cup (40g) tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp (30mL) lemon juice
Making the Pie Dough
- Pour 1 Tbsp of vinegar into a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Fill the remainder of the cup with water and place into the freezer to chill. You’ll want it to remain liquid, so don’t do this too far in advance.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt with a whisk.
- Remove butter from fridge and cut into 8 pieces, working quickly to avoid warming the butter. Add to the flour mixture and toss to coat butter pieces. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until it is pea-sized.
- Add the water vinegar mixture. Using a bench scraper or a heavy spatula or wooden spoon, push the mixture back and forth until the liquid has been absorbed into the dry ingredients. Using your hands, lift the edges of the rough dough mass, turn them inwards and press them firmly down. Repeat this, turning the bowl, until you can gather the dough into a rough ball, and there are no loose pieces at the bottom of the bowl.
- Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into two pieces. Form one into a round disc and wrap well with plastic wrap. This will become the base of your pie. Form the second into a roughly 6 x 3 inch rectangle and also wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for several hours or overnight.
Rolling Out the Bottom Crust and Lattice
- Place the round disc of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Holding a rolling pin at one end, pound the dough with about four or five vigorous whacks while moving from left to right. Rotate the dough 180 degrees and pound it again.
- Roll the dough out by placing the rolling pin in the center of the circle and firmly pressing down while moving the pin towards the outer edge of the dough. Turn the dough clockwise 45 degrees and continue this process of rolling and turning until the dough forms a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter.
- Gently fold the dough in half and lift it onto your 9 inch pie tin. Center it carefully and unfold it, pressing down into the base and corners to be sure there are no air pockets trapped underneath. Trim the outer edge so that it uniformly overlaps the edge of the tin by about 1 inch. Wrap in plastic wrap and place into the fridge to chill.
- Place the rectangular disc of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Repeat the same banging motion as above, from left to right. Roll the rectangular until it is somewhat larger and flatter. With the long edge closest to you, fold the dough into thirds by lifting the right edge and folding it 2/3 of the way across, and then folding the left edge over until it touches the right edge. Flip the dough over and pound the dough with the rolling pin again. Roll out the dough in a rectangular shape until it is approximately 11 x 12 inches.
- Using a fluted pastry cutter and a ruler, cut lattice strips in 3/4 inch widths along the long side of the rectangle. Gently transfer to a parchment covered baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill.
Mixing the Pie Filling
- In a large bowl, combine sour cherries and diced rhubarb. Add lemon juice, sugar and tapioca starch. Fold ingredients together gently until completely blended. Pour into prepared pie shell.
Assembling the Lattice
- For top lattice, evenly space 6 strips of dough along the top of the filled pie. Fold back every other strip halfway back on top of itself. Place a strip in the center of the pie, perpendicular to the first 6 strips. It should cover the three strips that are still stretched across the pie. Unfold the three folded strips, covering the most recently placed perpendicular strip.
- Repeat this under/over weaving procedure on either side with the remaining 5 strips of dough until you have a fully woven lattice crust. If this seems complex, refer to my detailed post on how to make lattice crusts.
- Trim the edges of the lattice so that they just meet the edge of the pie tin. Roll the edge of the crust inwards and over the top of the lattice ends. You could adorn the edge of the pie with a decorative crimp, cutouts from the leftover dough, or a braided strip of lattice. I connected leftover lattice strips and sealed the seams with a bit of water. I covered the seams with decorative leaf cutouts.
- Chill the assembled pie in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Baking the Pie
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet covered in aluminum foil (to catch any spills) . Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for 60 minutes, or until top crust is golden. Gently tent with aluminum foil and bake until the center of the pie is bubbling – this took an additional 10 minutes for me. Remove from oven and let sit until warm; if pie is still hot, the filling will not set (The waiting part is hard!)
- Serve individual slices with sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
If you like this Cherry Rhubarb Pie, you might also enjoy: