Monday, July 1, 2013

Hello & Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Hello friends! Welcome to my food and photography blog. So here I am, enjoying the first day of my stay-cation, and I have finally decided to take the plunge and start a blog. For years I have been collecting recipes. I have a bookmark list about three miles long and another million recipes (plus some) saved in my email, so I am hopeful that starting this blog will be a good way for me to catalog the new recipes that I make and a place for me to share with you too! Besides cooking and baking, photography is a huge passion in my life, so I am sure that I will be posting some of my photography work along the way as well.  Ok now that we have the intro out of the way, let's get on to sharing the first recipe.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie 

A few weeks ago, my husband and I stopped at a local farm stand to grab a quick breakfast and as we were poking around the store, we noticed these really great looking pies. The pie of the day was strawberry rhubarb, which is a favorite of my husband's. I have never been a big fan of this particular kind of pie, but we decided to pick one up anyways and give it a try. Later that evening we each cut ourselves a slice of the pie, only to be disappointed by a runny, soupy filling and bland soggy-bottomed crust. I thought to myself there has to be better versions of this pie out there, which set me on a mission to find a new recipe, and this is what I came up with.  By the way, I will post a step-by-step with more detailed instructions and then I will post the full recipes and simpler instructions at the bottom of the post.

The first step is to make the crust because it has to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I based my recipe on this butter crust from Food Wishes

Start by cutting up 1/2 cup (1 stick) of cold butter into 16 cubes. Place this in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to really firm up. Once the butter is very cold, place 1 cup of flour in a food processor with the blade attachment in place, then add the butter, and put another 1 cup of flour on top. Add 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of salt.

Pulse this mixture in short quick bursts for about 60 seconds or until the butter is well distributed in the flour. It should look like course sand with some pea sized chunks.  Add 6 tbsp of ice water (and I mean super cold icy water) and pulse, slightly longer pulses than the first time, until everything combines. You should scrape the sides of the bowl once during this process. Once it is combined it will look kind of like wet sand and you are going to think there is no way this is going to turn into crust, but when you pinch the mixture between your fingers, it should clump right together. If it doesn't, add a little more water, 1 tbsp at a time, until you get this consistency.  Depending on the humidity, your brand of flour, etc this may not be exactly the same every time.

Dump the contents of the food processor on to a clean work surface (I just use my counter top) and press the mixture together with your hands, until it all comes together. The dough will be slightly tacky and you should be able to pick all the crumbs.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator for at least one hour or up to overnight. This recipe makes enough dough for one whole pie, top and bottom crust. We only need a bottom crust for this pie, so I cut mine in half and froze the second half for another pie. While the dough is chilling, get started on making the strawberry rhubarb filling and crumble topping. I based my recipe on this pie from Joy the Baker.

Rinse and dry about 5-6 stalks of rhubarb (we need 3 cups) and 1 lb of strawberries. Cut the rhubarb into about 1/2" size pieces and hull and quarter the strawberries. If the strawberries are huge, like some of the monster ones from the supermarket, cut the quarters in half.  Toss together, the fruit, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1 tbsp flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, until the fruit is well coated. Set this aside while you prepare the topping. The fruit will become very juicy, but don't worry, it will all thicken up while baking.

For the topping, put 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 old-fashioned oats, 2/3 cup white sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Cube 6 tbsp of cold butter and cut into the dry ingredient mixture with a pastry cutter or with your fingers until the mixture is a course crumb texture.

When you are ready to assemble the pie, preheat the oven to 400°F. Take the thoroughly chilled dough and roll out on a well floured surface to about 1/8" thick. Make sure you lift and rotate the dough as you roll it out, otherwise it might get stuck in places. Try to make this as circular as you can, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Once you have it rolled out to the right thickness, loosely roll the dough onto your rolling pin and transfer to the pie plate. Press the dough into the pie plate and fold any overhang up underneath the edge. If you have any cracks, just patch a piece of dough over it and press it together. Pinch the edge of the crust between your fingers to try to make the edge of the pie look nice. Take about 1/2 cup of the topping and stir it into the fruit filling. Pour the fruit into the unbaked pie shell, smooth out the surface, and then top with the crumb mixture.

Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper and place the pie plate on the tray, just in case of any overflow. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake another 40-45 minutes until the topping and crust is golden brown and the fruit mixture is bubbling. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours to allow the filling to firm up.

This pie is absolutely delicious! The crust is buttery, tender, and flaky, while the crumb topping adds a wonderful crunchy texture to the pie. The strawberry rhubarb is sweet but tart and perfectly thickened. I started this pie quest thinking that I wasn't really into strawberry rhubarb pie but now I think this is one the best pies I have ever had. Serve yourself a nice big slice! It is good both room temperature and cold. I like to have mine à la mode :)

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie Recipe

1/2 cup cold butter
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp ice water

In a food processor with the blade attachment, combine dry ingredients and the cubed butter. Pulse about 60 seconds until course crumbs form and butter is well distributed. Add ice water and pulse again, scrapping the bowl once, until mixture resembles course sand and clumps together when you squeeze between your fingers. Dump the mixture onto a work surface and use your hands to push together until a tight dough ball forms. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until ready to use.

Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
3 cups rhubarb cut in 1/2" pieces 
1 lb strawberries hulled and quartered
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well until all the fruit is coated evenly.  Set aside until ready to assemble the pie.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp cold butter

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and toss together. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and then using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your hands, work the butter throughout the flour/oat mixture until it forms a course crumb texture.

Assembling the Pie
Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a well floured surface, roll the chilled pie dough into a circle large enough for your pie plate, about 1/8" thick.  Transfer the crust to the pie plate and press into place. Use your fingers to pinch the edge into a decorative pattern. Mix 1/2 cup of the topping into the fruit filling and then pour into the pie shell. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake an additional 40-45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours.


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