Friday, May 1, 2009

Rhubarb Pie and Once-a-Week Pie Crust

Rhubarb Pie

Seattle summers just about make up for the bleak, soggy winters.  For three months there's rarely a cloud in the sky and every time you turn around another fruit is ripe and begging to be made into pie.  I adapted this recipe for an olive-oil-based pie crust from one in an old diet cookbook, and I practically have it memorized by now.  I like to make the dough on Friday night and stash it in the fridge; Saturday morning I come home from the nearest Farmers' Market with whatever looks juiciest and in under an hour I have a hot, fresh, seasonal pie.  

Once-a-week Pie Crust
¾ cup + 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
¼ cup + 2 Tbs whole-wheat flour
2 Tbs sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 Tbs + 1 tsp oil (olive, grapeseed, etc)
3 Tbs ice water

Whisk all the dry ingredients together, then add oil and stir until the mix looks like fine bread crumbs.  Stir in the ice water 1 Tbs at a time until the dough sticks together.  Wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour (or freeze for up to two weeks).  Roll out the dough, place in a 9" pie plate, and prick all over with a fork.  Bake at 400 degrees until golden (about 18 minutes).  Add the desired filling and bake or chill as needed. 

This crust is pretty much foolproof, healthy enough to eat regularly, and hearty enough to pair with a variety robust and flavorful fillings.  As the summer goes on I'll paste more recommendations and pictures, but I'll mention here that I've used it with blackberries, peaches, mixed berries, and apples.  Since it's vegan I've used it to make tofu "French Silk" pies for vegan parties.  I've also left out the sugar and cinnamon and used it for quiches and savory flans. 

My favorite filling of the moment is locally-grown rhubarb, which I prefer not to dilute with strawberries.  Chop a scant pound of clean rhubarb and cook with 2-3 Tbs of sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  When the rhubarb gets tender and juicy, make of paste of 1 tsp cornstarch and a little hot water and stir it into the fruit.  Let the fruit simmer for a couple more minutes, then pour into the hot pie crust.  Put back into the hot oven, shut the door, and turn off the oven; the residual heat will set the filling.  


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