If you saw the picture that I posted last week, you have guessed that I was somewhere tropical. Ryan and I left our FIVE children with my mother to spend SIX days in St. Thomas. The good news is that we returned to find the house – and children – intact. The bad news is her services are not for hire. We went for the purpose of business (Ryan’s, not mine, although I think I could make a very strong case for why the Caribbean is on optimum destination for writers). One of the few consolations about coming home (other than hugging and kissing my children) was finding the first crop of rhubarb on Saturday at the local farmers’ market. With the rhubarb season now initiated, I’d like to officially declare my dieting plans heartily abandoned.
For the not-so-sweet lovers out there, rhubarb is just the thing you need to make a delicious pie. Because it’s more tart than sweet (and although this recipe calls for a considerable amount of sugar), it makes the perfect pie. And this recipe calls for nothing more to prepare the rhubarb than to wash it and cut it into one-inch pieces.
Last fall, I took a baking class taught by a friend and learned the ins and out of making the perfect pie crust. Keep all of your ingredients cold. Use two knives to mix in the shortening and butter. Handle the dough as little as possible. But it appears as if I’m an official flunkie of the course, at least on the basis of the tough, chewy crust I produced this weekend for the first rhubarb pie of the season. I now vacillate between forswearing any further attempts at pie crust and resigning myself to crisps and cobblers, or working diligent every week for the next six weeks of rhubarb season to perfect the technique.
If you’re not sure what rhubarb looks like, you’ll find it in the produce section of your market: it looks a lot like red stalks of celery, although it’s generally thicker than celery. This recipe calls for six cups of rhubarb – that’s two bunches of about 4-5 stalks.
Pastry for 2 crust pie
6 cups rhubarb, in 1-inch pieces
5 T flour
1 ¾ C sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 tsp. Butter
Mix flour, sugar and salt. Add eggs, and stir mixture into rhubarb. Dot with butter. Fill pastry-lined pie pan. Arrange top crust, and don’t forget to vent the top crust (you can prick it with a fork). Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes; reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 40 minutes.