Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rhubarb Streusel Pie for Father's Day

It has been many years since I prepared a meal in honor of Father's day. This year I had the unexpected pleasure of cooking for my younger brother's family. We had a simple, classic and seasonal meal of Beef Tenderloin, Garlicky Sautéed Sweet Corn, Rosemary Roasted New Potatoes and Sliced Tomatoes. Since I didn't take any pictures of the entrée, this blog post won't be about any of those items. Rather, it's about the dessert. For dessert I made a Rhubarb Pie.

For some reason I don't make pies very often. My personal taste runs more toward fruit crisps and French style tarts. And I did toy with the idea of making a crisp, or the Strawberry-Rhubarb Crostata that I posted last month. But in the end I uncharacteristically settled on a pie. 

I didn't think about it too much at the time, but pie really was the appropriate choice for our Father's day celebration. My own father loved pie. I don't know if I could claim that it was his favorite dessert, but I know that I ate a lot more pie when he was alive than I do now. His mother apparently made pretty amazing meringue pies (which he called "cream pies") when he was growing up. She had quit making pies long before I came along, so I never got to taste one. I'm not sure I could name a kind of pie my Dad didn't like...custard-style pies, fruit pies, true cream pies...he enjoyed them all. But then, he loved dessert and sweets in general—I'm certain I inherited my sweet tooth from him.

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.

Transfer the pie to the lowest rack of the oven. Bake the pie at 425° for 20 minutes. Cover the edges with a foil ring and turn the temperature down to 375° and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 325° and bake until the streusel is golden brown, the juices are bubbling thickly in the center of the pie and the bottom crust is browned—another 25-30 minutes. If the juices every threaten to over-flow, slide a baking sheet under the baking pie.  Cool the pie to room temperature before cutting (this allows the juices to “firm up”).

If desired, re-warm the pie briefly just before cutting. Serve with strawberry or vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Pâte Brisée
(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.

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Katrina said...

I would have gone with a scoop of each to go with the pie! ;) I've got to find me some rhubarb plants to plant out here. I can't find it anywhere to purchase it but I do really like it!

Unknown said...

We are longing for spring and took our last bag of frozen rhubarb from the deep freeze. Delicious recipe. Thank you! I will use this again and again. Hopefully, the rhubarb will be coming straight from the garden in a month or two.

Paige said...

So pleased you enjoyed the recipe! I am longing for Spring too...it has been a long, cold winter. The first of the rhubarb will be a welcome sight.