Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
It is rhubarb season, and I am thrilled about it! What’s even more exciting is that my parents graciously shared some fresh rhubarb with me when I recently visited them in Iowa! Thanks Mom and Dad!
Love it or hate it, rhubarb is pretty cool. Botanically speaking, rhubarb is a vegetable, though it is commonly associated as a fruit because of its frequent use in dessert applications (ie pie, crisp, jam, or cake). If you’re not familiar with rhubarb, it’s fibrous and crisp like a celery stalk when eaten raw but very sour in flavor. It is also worth noting that the leaves are toxic because they contain oxalic acid. No matter what, NEVER eat rhubarb leaves.
Growing up, we always had rhubarb desserts each spring thanks to my parents’ lovely little rhubarb patch. I quickly became fond of rhubarb thanks to a dessert known as rhubarb butter crunch. This was my mom’s go-to rhubarb recipe and for good reason. It is essentially apple crisp instead made with rhubarb and topped with a mega-thick buttery crunch topping! Served warm out of the oven with a big dollop of vanilla ice cream, this dessert is pretty much heaven on a plate.
Aside from rhubarb butter crunch, I was brainstorming other desserts to bake with my prized stash of rhubarb. I decided on strawberry rhubarb pie because it is my father-in-law’s all-time favorite dessert! Now, I want to brag about my father-in-law Rob for a second (who my husband Rob is named after). He is my “favorite” father-in-law, after all (hehe). On a more serious note, Rob continuously inspires me with his exceptional work ethic and kind spirit. Between working full-time, completing a recent house remodel, milling boards with his new milling machine, and building custom furniture, he still manages to find time to lend a helping hand to his children and friends. He also has a great sense of humor! Last but not least, I admire and love him and his wife Cathy very much! Below are pics of them up in northern Michigan.
Back to this pie…strawberry paired with rhubarb is a classic combination because 1. they are both in season during the spring, and 2. the sweetness from the strawberries pairs with the tartness of the rhubarb quite beautifully. Despite the dozens and dozens of pies I’ve made over the years, I have never actually made a strawberry rhubarb pie. I am always up for a challenge, so here is my story…
The basis of any successful pie starts with a sturdy, yet flaky pie crust. My go-to pie crust is the double crust recipe that can sometimes be found on the back of the Crisco vegetable shortening container or c. This crust comes together beautifully with just 4 ingredients: vegetable shortening, flour, salt, and ice water. This recipe is fuss-free overall and consistently delivers a tender and flaky crust with a perfect amount of salty flavor. However, if you prefer a different crust recipe or would rather use a purchased pie crust dough, feel free to use what you are comfortable with.
For the filling, the thickening ingredient is especially important because strawberry rhubarb pies are notorious for being soupy. Though still delicious when messy, pie is best with it can be served as a slice! For fruit pies, I prefer minute tapioca as a my thickener because it results in a nice clear, gelled filling. Corn starch (or flour), on the other hand, is also effective but results in a cloudy filling that sometimes taste starchy. To keep strawberry and rhubarb as the star flavors, the flavors are only being enhanced with sugar (obviously!) and a little bit of butter. Once the pie is baked and cooled, it should slice beautify. Last but not least, be sure to serve it a la mode with your favorite vanilla ice cream!
I am beyond thrilled with the end result, and hope you will give this recipe a try! I think Rob will like it, too!
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Makes 1, 9-inch pie
Recipe from Crisco, which can be accessed here
Follow the instructions for the “Double Crust”
Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
3 cups rhubarb, sliced
3 cups strawberries, chopped
1 cup sugar
¼ cup quick cooking tapioca
2 Tbsp butter
Milk and additional sugar for the top of the pie
Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and tapioca in a large bowl. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the tapioca to begin absorbing some of the juices. Pour the filling into the prepared bottom crust and dot the top of the filling with bits of butter. Cover the pie with the upper crust. Seal and trim all edges, decorating or fluting the edge of the crust, as desired. Brush the top of the pie lightly with milk and sprinkle generously with extra sugar. This will result in a beautiful golden color with a sugary crust.
Bake the pie in a preheated 400° F oven for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350° F and bake for an additional 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling has started to bubble. If the top or sides are becoming too brown, carefully shield with aluminum foil strips.