Apple pie, make way for strawberry rhubarb pie! Sweet strawberries combine with tart rhubarb for a perfectly balanced, juicy fruit pie.
Did you know it’s National Strawberry Month? I didn’t until I noticed a giant influx of strawberry-themed posts in my Instagram feed and I did a little Googling. The gorgeous red of strawberries is always welcome, but I got a little worried.
You know that feeling you get when you notice that a bunch of radio stations are playing the same artist, or a channel is playing a ton of movies that share the same star? My immediate thought is, “It’s either their birthday or they’re dead”. That’s kinda what happened with seeing all the strawberry posts – my first thought was “Is this the anniversary of when strawberries were discovered? OH GOD, ARE STRAWBERRIES GOING EXTINCT?!”
Hey – at least the happier of the two thoughts is what popped into my head first. For an eternal pessimist, that’s progress!
So, the tl;dr here is that strawberries are simply being celebrated for the sweet, juicy fruit that they are, and they are not going extinct (that I know of). I’m not one to say no to a good party when the guest of honor is such a beloved friend, so I decided to invite rhubarb as my guest. Since the tail end of rhubarb season coincides with the start of strawberry’s, it’s perfect timing.
I’m not going to lie to you guys – I don’t love the photos I got from this. At the time I made it, it was really terrible, dark, gloomy weather. I had made it for the boyfriend’s birthday that ended up being during a horrible blizzard, and the lighting outside was changing really rapidly. It would go from glaringly white to super dark in a split second – it was impossible to get consistently good lighting. So – against my better judgement – I grabbed my tabletop lighting unit and reflector and went to work. I got the room as dark as I could, but because there are a lot of windows everywhere in this house, there were still swings of external lighting I couldn’t control. I came thisclose to setting up shop in one of our closets because it’s the only place that could be completely dark, but the idea of taking photos surrounded by potentially cat and dog-covered clothes and shoes… it just didn’t seem like the best idea.
But all that aside, I still wanted to share this recipe with you because I love it so, so much. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’m not a huge fan of fruit pies in general. But this? This pie? Big fan. I had to make it a few times before I got the sweetness level that I wanted, and I don’t want to mess with a good thing now that I found my holy grail. You know the saying – if it ain’t broke…
A crucial thing I discovered (through a conversation I overheard one day in a Crate & Barrel) is that if you bake the pie on a dry baking sheet, the bottom crust doesn’t get as soggy. I’ve done it with and without, and it’s kinda crazy how well it works. That was always one of the reasons I’ve never been a big fan of fruit pies… maybe I’m a convert now.
[cue the shocked gasps]
There’s something about the combination of strawberry and rhubarb that’s just so satisfying, and I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the mix of sweet and tart that I like so much. I love sweet and salty, so why not sweet and tart? All that, combined with a crispy pie crust and crunchy coarse sugar… it’s just downright lovely.
As for cutting out slices, you’re going to find it much easier after the first day. When you serve it on day one, you’ll find that it falls apart a bit and the filling won’t be quite set. But I actually don’t mind it that way – I really don’t care what my slices look like. Is it still delicious? YUP. Therefore, I do not care about the aesthetics.
But if you do… give it time to set so that you don’t end up with the hot mess express.
I know many people like their strawberry rhubarb pies with a sweet, tender filling – but personally, I like mine with a little more of a bite. You need a certain level of sugar in the filling to get that gorgeously red, juicy syrup that envelopes your chopped party guests (wow, that’s dark – even for me), so you can only cut back on that so much without affecting the texture of the finished product.
I found that 1/2 cup sugar (half granulated, half brown) is as low as I could go, but I use more strawberries than rhubarb so it helps add a bit of the sweetness back that you lost with the lower amount of sugar. I add a 1/3 cup cornstarch to help set the filling, since the greater quantity of strawberries lends itself to more juice. I also add coarse sugar to the top of the crust, so I think that will help quell the fears of anyone who has a sweeter tooth. Plus, if you’re not serving it with vanilla ice cream, you’re doing it wrong. Just sayin’.
After the blizzard dissipated the next day, the boyfriend took some into work and offered some to his coworkers and they gave it two thumbs up. So this bad boy is tried, true and tested. I tend to go pretty simple with the crust and do a simple lattice top to let some of the filling peek out, but feel free to be as creative as you want! I just worry that the guest of honor might feel like you’re trying to upstage them if the crust is prettier than they are. Fair warning.
Now start your own strawberry celebration and go make yourself some pie. Invite people over to help you inhale consume it at a normal pace. Blow up some balloons and make them wear party hats, but don’t tell them why.
I’m not going to pretend that’s normal, but it’s totally something I would do.
Sweet strawberries combine with tart rhubarb for a perfectly balanced, juicy fruit pie!
2 pie crusts (premade or homemade)
3 cups strawberries, chopped
2 1/2 cups sliced rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 Tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Large pinch of salt
Zest of 1 orange
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water or milk
Coarse sugar, optional garnish
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl, combine strawberries, rhubarb sugars, cornstarch, orange juice, vanilla, salt and orange zest. Stir to coat and set aside.
On a floured surface, roll out your pie crusts to be at least 12″ in diameter.
Place one of the crusts in a pie dish, pressing it snug against the dish and trimming the edges as needed.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust and place cubes of butter across the top (distributed as evenly as possible).
Place your other crust on top, trimming the edges and pressing it into the bottom crust to create a seal around the edge. Cut slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Note: If you want to get fancier with it, check out this post from Martha Stewart for some beautiful crust ideas.
Use a pastry brush and coat the top of the pie crust with your egg mixture, and top with coarse sugar (optional, but highly recommended).
Place the pie onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully add a pie shield to the top of the pie to avoid over-browning/burning.
Now turn down the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 35 minutes. Carefully remove your pie shield, and if you feel that you want it more brown you can bake longer for, checking on it every few minutes. You want the crust to be golden brown, not burned – so keep a close eye on it!
Place pie on a wire rack(aff link) and allow to cool completely at room temperature – this will allow the filling to set and thicken. If you can’t wait that long, just know you’ll have a bit of a mess on your hands – but a delicious mess, no less.