Sweet Love

Billy will be the first one to tell you that he’s not really a dessert person. He often declares that he could go for the rest of his life without eating dessert, a statement I could get behind if our fridge wasn’t overflowing with Coca-Cola. Billy likes his tea light and sweet, and by sweet I mean three heaping tablespoons of sugar. His favorite cereal is Frosted Flakes. He packs Reese’s Peanut Butter cups for “fuel” on his on 30-mile bike rides. So to be clear, while Billy may not like desserts, he sure as hell loves sweets.

That said, I jumped at the chance to bake! I’d never made Strawberry Rhubarb pie before, so I did a little reconnaissance to better understand the chemistry and flavor. After looking at a few recipes, I decided to wing it. The great thing about cooking for Billy is that I know he’ll tell me the truth; despite his love of sweets, if the pie turned out to be a disaster, I could count on the fact that he wouldn’t sugarcoat it. Cooking for people you love is the best way to get better in the kitchen. If your efforts fail, they will remind you that YOU are not a failure.

And then sometimes your experiment turns out to be a huge success. Woohoo! This was the best (and only) strawberry rhubarb pie I’d ever tasted! Billy buried his head in his plate and was, for once, quiet—a sign that he really, really liked it.

I love that this pie is as pretty as it is tasty. To me, the lattice crust screams summer. The filling is the perfect blend of tart and sweet. It’s delicious on its own and over-the-top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I used my standard pie crust recipe (find it here, or watch my video) which will give you enough to make the pie shell and the lattice crust. (Note: Separate the dough mixture into two balls and flatten into discs. Wrap both in plastic and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling out.)

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

To make the filling:

2 cups strawberries, roughly/haphazardly chopped
4 cups rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup corn starch plus 2 Tablespoons

Mix everything together, and that’s it! I used corn starch because I had it in my cupboard and it seemed like it would do a better job than all-purpose flour. The strawberries create a lot of juice, and you need something heavy duty to drink it all up or you’ll be left with strawberry rhubarb soup.

Butter and flour a 9-inch round pie plate. Roll out one disc of dough approximately 11 inches in diameter (you want the dough to hang over the edge of the pie plate). To transport the rolled-out dough to your pie plate, loosely roll the dough around your rolling pin and gently unroll it into the bottom of your pie plate. Pour in the strawberry rhubarb mixture. Now you’re ready to make the lattice crust.

Roll out the remaining dough the same way and then use a knife to slice ten long strips approximately 3/4-inch thick. Lay five strips of dough across the top of the pie, using one of the longest strips for the center, two medium-sized strips on either side, and finally two shorter strips for the ends. Space them about 3/4-inch apart, so that the negative space is approximately equal to the width of the strips. For the sake of clarity, let’s number these five strips #1-5.

Now it’s time to create the lattice. Grab the longest strip out of your remaining five, which will run across the center of the pie. Start by laying it across #1. Pull back #2 so the strip lies underneath. It goes over #3, then pull back #4, and finally over #5. God, I hope that makes sense! Repeat with the remaining four strips, alternating the weave.

Once you’re done with the lattice design, use your fingers to crimp the strips into the pie shell, creating a seal. Use a knife to trim off some of the excess dough, but leave at least a 1/2 inch so that it still hangs a little over the edge of the pie plate.

This next part is key. Use your fingers to tuck under that 1/2 overhang. This creates a clean edge and adds a little extra thickness.

To crimp the edges, press your index and middle fingers down as you pull up with your thumb.

Brush all of the dough with an egg wash (one egg mixed with a splash of water) which will give the crust a nice brown color.

Place your pie plate on a baking sheet in case the filling bubbles over, otherwise you’ll have a huge mess on your hands! Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then turn down the oven to 375 degrees and bake for another hour.

Let it cool completely before serving.

I’ve learned that the truest expression of love is acceptance. Give yourself permission to riff off of my recipe and come up with your own take. If you prefer tart over sweet, you can reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup total, and add some lemon juice (between 1 to 2 teaspoons). Have fun with it, and let me know how it goes!

Chrissy
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