Friday, June 24, 2011

50 Women Game-Changers in Food - #3 Fannie Farmer - Rhubarb Custard Pie





From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We've reached the third week of a challenge that explores the food and recipes of the women who made Gourmet's list of the 50 most influential women in the food industry. It might surprise some to know that Fannie Farmer, a name that becomes less familiar with the passage of time, garnered third place on the list. The first spot went to Julia Child for her cooking and the way it stimulated interest in food and how it is prepared. Alice Waters took second place for her part in the greening our kitchens, and her efforts to simplify
and improve the quality of the food we eat by inspiring the use of fresh and local ingredients in its preparation. Fannie Merritt Farmer, closed ranks behind them and grabbed third place because of her recipes. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, formally known as The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, was the first cookbook to include standard, or exact, measures in its recipes. Her book was first published in 1896. A stroke at the age of 16 kept her at home for many years and she turned to cooking to help pass the time. She became an accomplished cook, and, as her health improved, she was able to formally study cooking at the prestigious Boston Cooking School. Her true interest, however, was in the science of food and nutrition and she wanted to share what she had learned with home cooks. Little Brown agreed to publish her first book, but they had so little faith in the possibility of its success, that she had to pay for the printing of the first edition herself. The arrangement proved to be fortuitous because it made her sole owner of the book's copyright. Her book has been continuously in print since its first publication, some 4,000,000 copies ago. Newer editions of the cookbook look nothing like the one that was first published and its recipes now follow a formula common to modern cookbooks. That's fine and prudent, but I wanted to follow a recipe as she had written it all those years ago. Call it whimsy. I finally settled on one I had found for rhubarb custard pie. It is an old fashioned delight. It will never replace the strawberry-rhubarb pie made in today's kitchens, but it's not half bad, and, sometimes, not half bad is good enough. Her original recipe for the pie appears below, courtesy of Bartlelby.com. I doubled the ingredients to produce the pie photographed for this post. Each category that is covered in the book begins with common instructions for all the recipes within that group. That is followed by a breakdown of ingredients needed for a specific recipe. The section on pies looks like this.



Chapter XXVIII.
PIES.


PASTE for pies should be one-fourth inch thick and rolled a little larger than the plate to allow for shrinking. In dividing paste for pies, allow more for upper than under crusts. Always perforate upper crusts that steam may escape. Some make a design, others pierce with a large fork.

Flat rims for pies should be cut in strips three-fourths inch wide. Under crusts should be brushed with cold water before putting on rims, and rims slightly fulled, otherwise they will shrink from edge of plate. The pastry-jagger, a simple device for cutting paste, makes rims with fluted edges.

Pies requiring two crusts sometimes have a rim between the crusts. This is mostly confined to mince pieces, where there is little danger of juice escaping. Sometimes a rim is placed over upper crust. Where two pieces of paste are put together, the under piece should always be brushed with cold water, the upper piece placed over, and the two pressed lightly together; otherwise they will separate during baking.

When juicy fruit is used for filling pies, some of the juices are apt to escape during baking. As a precaution, bind with a strip of cotton cloth wrung out of cold water and cut one inch wide and long enough to encircle the plate. Squash, pumpkin, and custard pies are much less care during baking when bound. Where cooked fruits are used for filling, it is desirable to bake crusts separately. This is best accomplished by covering an inverted deep pie plate with paste and baking for under crust. Prick with a fork before baking. Slip from plate, and fill. For upper crusts, roll a piece of paste a little larger than the pie plate, prick, and bake on a tin sheet.

For baking pies, eight inch perforated tin plates are used. They may be bought shallow or deep. By the use of such plates the under crust is well cooked. Pastry should be thoroughly baked and well browned. Pies require from thirty-five to forty-five minutes for baking. Never grease a pie plate; good pastry greases its own tin. Slip pies, when slightly cooled, to earthen plates.

Rhubarb Pie............
1-1/2 cups rhubarb 1 egg
7/8 cup sugar 2 tablespoons flour

Skin and cut stalks of rhubarb in half-inch pieces before measuring. Mix sugar, flour, and egg; add to rhubarb and bake between crusts. Many prefer to scald rhubarb before using; if so prepared, losing some of its acidity, less sugar is required.

Additional recipes and tributes to Fannie Farmer can be found on these excellent blogs.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef

Everyone is welcome to participate. If you'd like to join us next Friday when we salute Martha Stewart let me know via email.

53 comments:

manu said...

OH Mary I love this pie, it reminds me Grandma Duck ;-)

Anna A. said...

Ahhhh!! I had lunch with a food writer from the Oregonian a month ago and she told me about this rhubarb custard pie her family used to make growing up back in Ohio - she sent me the recipe which is similar to yours and I've been dying to make it! The combo of custard and sweet-tart rhubarb seems so mouth watering.

Coleen said...

8" perf. tin pie plate? Thats a new one on me. I only have 9" 10" glass, I don't think I even own a tin pie plate...looks like I'm missing out on something.

Al Dente Gourmet said...

What a delicious rhubarb pie!!! Love the flavors combination :)

Have a lovely day,

Aldy.

Maris(In Good Taste) said...

This is one gorgeous pie. Have a wonderful weekend!

Alessandra said...

I didn't know Fannie Farmer, I am curious to find out more about her now, thank you Mary.

The pie looks... perfect? I am trying to find the right word for it :-)

Ciao and happy weekend
Alessandra

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey said...

Your photos make it look totally mouthwatering, Mary! But for some extraordinary reason, rhubarb doesn't grow here in Turkey. It is such an English thing too.

Food Glorious Food! said...

Thanks for sharing on Fennie Farmer. It's so inspiring! Love the pie so much !

Pegasuslegend said...

Going to ask you how in the world you make such a perfect weave in that pie, how beautiful this is, I have never been that creative I thought as I grew older I would get better nope! You have a gift my dear woman!

Linda Starr said...

That pie looks luscious and so interesting learning about the lives of famous cooks. I am wondering if you have heard of Antoinette Pope, I have that cookbook and learned to cook from it. She was from Chicago and had a cooking school there.

Jay said...

ohh..I love this...:P
Tasty Appetite

Red Nomad OZ said...

Sensational recipe, photo AND story!! Have a great weekend!!

Julie said...

Oh Mary that pie looks amazing! Reminds me of those my mother made many years ago. I am pie crust challenged. :)

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

I enjoy just reading my Fannie Farmer cookbook. It is yellowed with age and splashed with food. blessings ~ tanna

bellini said...

I cold have a large slice of this for breakfast Mary. This challenge has been so inspirational so far.

Barbara said...

I think I'd like this one, Mary. I'm kind of a purist where rhubarb pies are concerned, I don't like to mix other fruits with it. But this looks lovely.

Love the idea of making recipes from the 50 influential women and I've enjoyed reading the posts of those of you making them. So many of my favorites on that list!
Nice of you to post some information about Fannie Farmer and her life for those who are unfamiliar. (Sometimes I feel so old....)

Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) said...

What a classic! We have a wonderful children's picture book about Fannie Farmer. She was inspired to write down her recipes ,which was unheard of at the time, by a family she nannied for who wanted to have her recipes after she left them. I can't even imagine life without written recipes!!! Where would I be without my collection of cookbooks and blogs??

Jenn said...

Oh, wow, I've had plenty of rhubarb pies growing up...but never rhubarb custard. Sounds amazing!

PeggyR said...

That looks wonderful!

Taryn (Have Kitchen, Will Feed) said...

This is beautifully done, Mary. I don't even like pie and I want to make this for my father on Sunday.

Xinmei @ Pudding Pie Lane said...

Yummy! I love rhubarb! Speaking of Julia Child, have you ever seen Julie and Julia? :)

yummychunklet said...

This looks fantastic! Such a yummy pie!

Susan Lindquist said...

Mary, this pie is just beautiful! I really think Fannie Farmer would be proud! This challenge has been so much fun! I am learning so much from reading everyone's posts! And ... it's exciting to see more folks being inspired to take part!

Betty @ scrambled henfruit said...

I scooped up an old dog-eared copy of her cookbook last week at a thrift shop- it's so full of basic information that every cook should know. (And I really love the little notes that the former owner scribbled all through it too!) Your pie is just beautiful- the crust is so flaky! :)

girlichef said...

That is a gorgeous pie, Mary! So many to recipes to choose from w/ Fannie and I love this old-school recipe =)

Southerncook said...

Mary,

I wanted you to know that I tried one of your recipes recently, Braised Chicken with Riesling. I think you listed it in your ten favorite Chicken dishes. It was absolutely awesome and I posted it with Foodie Friday today referencing the fact that the recipe came from you, of course. You always share the most wonderful recipes.

Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

Cooking Creation said...

I really enjoy reading the history about these remarkable women. The pie turned out beautifully!

June said...

Beautiful pie Mary. The recipe brings back such beautiful memories - my Mother made her rhubarb pie like this one and it was always a favorite.

briarrose said...

Such a pretty pie. Sometimes an old fashioned touch hits the spot. :)

Emily Malloy said...

That pie is picture perfect!!! Truly!!!

Wendy Irene said...

I love when you make recipes with rhubarb! I can almost taste it. You did a beautiful job with the crust on your pie. Have a lovely weekend!

Ryan said...

This was such a great post and I'm enjoying your series on these great women chefs. I didn't know Fannie Farmer's background-- so fascinating. Its fun to try out old recipes if for nothing else, just to see how our tastes and palettes have changed over the years!

Joanne said...

I've become quite the rhubarb fanatic and this custard pie sounds like such an interesting way to enjoy it!

From the Kitchen said...

Thank you Mary and Fannie! I prefer my rhubarb pies unadulterated with strawberries. Alas, I am a loser in the American pie crust department.

Best,
Bonnie

Rambling Tart said...

I loved learning more about Fannie in your post, Mary. :-) My favorite mac and cheese recipe is from her, and it's so great to get a bit of her back story. :-)

Privatestock said...

MY MOUTH IS WATERING FOR A SLICE OF YOUR PIE! WOW WOW WOW!

Miranda said...

This pie looks amazingly perfect! Will have to put this one in the books.

Sue said...

I love the Fannie Farmer history...it was my mother's go-to cook book and she gave each of her daughters one when they got married. I'm on my second copy of it---the first one was so well used it fell apart.

Ginny said...

I have never bought or tasted rhubarb in my life, but that is one beautiful pie! There is also Fannie May and Fannie Farmer candy!

Deirdre Reid said...

I love Fannie! She's been a faithful companion for years. I brought her to the beach last year so I could bake some summer fruit goodies. I blogged about her Blueberry Coffee Cake (no need for any other recipe)-- http://grabbingthegusto.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/blueberry-coffee-cake/ -- and her peach cobbler -- http://grabbingthegusto.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/peach-cobbler/. Her Baking Book has never ever let me down. It turned me into a confident pie baker. It's a classic.

Pondside said...

Nothing beats Strawberry and Rhubarb pie, and nothing else beats Rhubarb pie!

xinex said...

Oh wow! Looks so delish, Mary!...Christine

Au and Target said...

Looks yummy. I have an old Julia Child book and it's full of frozen ingredients. Fascinating to look back in time.

Kim said...

Wow, this rhubarb pie look so delicious, I would do anything to have a piece of it... Have a nice week end Mary!

elle marie said...

This sounds amazingly delish Mary! I might have to scour a bit to find Rhubarb but this recipe is inspiring me to do so. I hope you are having a fab summer so far, it's so humid and hot here.

David said...

Mary, Great looking pie! My grandmother used to make rhubarb pies and it's been years since I've tasted one... Maybe I can coax my better half into baking one for us. Thanks and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I love the text you included here - while Fanny was known for adding exact measurements, I find it so fascinating that the head note is so much like the story telling that has become fashionable again today.

Sue said...

What a gorgepus pie! Perfect lattice!

That Girl said...

My love for Fannie Farmer is pretty well known at this point!

Pauline said...

Love your posts, Mary. They are always thoughtful, thought-provoking, sincere, and enlightening.

Thanks for the sweet comments on my blog too!

Julia said...

I've just read Claudia's post. It seems Fanny Farmer was quite a lady! Well, she was if she made rhubarb custard pies like this. I love rhubarb! :)

Hovkonditorn said...

I love rhubarb and this pie sound so delicious!

sally said...

This pie certainly looks like a game-changing pie! Yum!

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