Because I had crisps and crostatas in my mind, I ended up making a streusel-topped pie—the ideal dessert for someone who can't decide if they want a pie or a crisp. The sweet streusel on the top also allows you to keep the rhubarb filling suitably tart. Rhubarb of course requires quite a bit of sugar to make it palatable, but if you add too much to the filling the distinctive tang of the rhubarb disappears. Putting extra sugar on top in the form of a streusel provides a pleasant sweet-tart effect...something I know my Dad would have appreciated. He occasionally commented when the flavors of a dish were out of balance...too sweet, not tangy enough, etc. A pie that didn't taste of what it was would not have met with his approval.
I served our pie with a choice of vanilla or strawberry ice cream. Most people love the combination of strawberries and rhubarb, so I thought plain rhubarb pie with strawberry ice cream would have lots of takers. I was wrong. I alone chose the strawberry ice cream to go with my pie...everyone else went the purist route of vanilla. I have no idea which one my Dad would have chosen...but I'm pretty sure he would have loved the pie...and I would have loved to share it with him.
Rhubarb Streusel Pie
60 g. all-purpose flour (1/2 c.)
60 g. walnuts, toasted and finely chopped (1/2 c.)
50 g. granulated sugar (1/4 c.)
50 g. packed light brown sugar (1/4 c.)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. each cardamom, allspice, and ginger
1/4 t. salt
55 g. unsalted butter, melted (4 T.)
200 g. sugar (1 c.)
pinch of salt
10 g. Tapioca (1 T. plus 1/2 t.)
10 g. cornstarch (1 T. plus 1/2 t.)
6 cups diced rhubarb (1.5 lbs. trimmed weight)
1 recipe Basic Pie Dough, rolled out for a 9-inch single crust pie and chilled
Combine the dry ingredients for the streusel in the food processor. Drizzle in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Combine the sugar, salt, tapioca and cornstarch in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb with the dry ingredients.
Let sit until the rhubarb just begins to moisten the dry ingredients, 2 or 3 minutes.
Turn the fruit into the chilled crust.
Scatter the streusel evenly over the fruit.
(Basic Pie Dough)
1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour (150g)
3/8 t. salt
8 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (115g) )—for a more American-style crust, replace 2 T. of the butter with vegetable shortening
3 to 4 T. ice water
Combine the flour and the salt in a medium-sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. If you are using part vegetable shortening, rub the butter in first, then quickly rub in the shortening. Drizzle 3 T. ice water over the flour/butter mixture. Using your hands, fluff the mixture until it begins to clump, adding more water if necessary. If, when you squeeze some of the mixture it holds together, the dough is finished. Turn the dough out onto a counter and form into a mound. Using the heel of your hand, gradually push all of the dough away from you in short forward strokes, flattening out the lumps. Continue until all of the dough is flat. Using a bench scraper, scrape the dough off the counter, forming it into a single clump as you do. Wrap in plastic wrap and press into a thick disk. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
To roll out, let the dough warm up for a moment or two. Butter and flour a 9-inch pie plate and set it aside. Flour the work surface and the rolling pin. Begin rolling from the center of the dough outward. After each stroke, rotate the dough a quarter turn—always making sure that there is sufficient flour to keep the dough from sticking. Keep rolling and turning until you have a round of dough that is about 1/8 to 1/6 –inch in thickness. Using a lid or an upside-down bowl, trim the dough to form a 12-inch circle. Brush off the excess flour and fold the dough circle in half. Slide the outspread fingers of both hands under the dough and gently lift it and transfer it to the prepared pie plate. Unfold the dough and ease it into the pan being careful not to stretch it. Fold the extra dough under along the rim of the pan so that it is double in thickness. Crimp the edge. Chill the pie shell for at least 1/2 hour.