Saturday, July 4, 2009

rhubarb pie

It's Fourth of July so will do something traditional - rhubarb pie! This time I'll put in some serviceberries since they were abundant this year and last. Although I was eating them fresh last week, we still had some in the freezer from last year when Steve put a tarp down and shook the tree. I've been laboriously separating stems from berries, so just a few will go in. They do make it extra special - a few red gems thrown in!

The serviceberry, by the way, is a wonderful landscape tree. Native to eastern North America, it's covered with delicate white blossoms late April or early May. The berries are delicious and very popular with the birds and squirrels. In the fall it's astounding as the leaves turn from red and purple to burnt orange.

Whatever fruit is available for a pie, I fall back on the same basic recipe. The pie crust recipe comes from Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Cookbook and the filling part is based on the fruit pie recipe in Let's Cook it Right by Adelle Davis.

Pie crust:
Stir together: 2 cups flour and 1 tsp salt
Add: 2/3 cup shortening
Mix until lumps are no bigger than little peas.
Sprinkle in ice water (about 1/3 cup but it depends) and mix until it stays together. I start mixing with forks and end up with my hands making balls.
Form two balls - one bigger than the other, and cover and put them in the refrigerator for an hour or more. It makes it easier to roll out.

This next step is probably not necessary but it prevents a soggy crust.
Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out the bigger ball for the bottom crust and put it in a 9" pie pan. Flute the edges. Pierce with a fork intermittently over the surface for air to escape. Place a smaller pan like a cakepan on top to keep the crust from rising. Cover with foil and put in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove cakepan and foil and bake for another two minutes. Take it out of the oven.

Fruit pie:
Preheat oven to 375°
4 cups fruit - cut up
1/2 to 1 cup sugar depending on sweetness of fruit
3 to 4 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour depending on wetness of fruit
dash of salt
Mix together and add to pie crust. Roll out top crust and cut into long strips and lay them criss-cross on top.
Bake for about 40 minutes til it looks done.

For the rhubarb I used the full cup of sugar. Sometimes I make pies with fruit I had previously canned, like peaches and plums, and they already had sugar so then I just 1/4 cup sugar to the pie.