From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The simultaneous appearance of rhubarb and strawberries in our green markets is enough to convince me that Mother Nature can't be all bad. I love to use the combination in the barely sweet desserts my family favors and those shades of red are as much a harbinger of spring as daffodils or cherry blossoms. They are a sure sign that berry pie season has begun and this pie is usually the first I make. The recipe I use comes from Cook's Illustrated magazine and it is one I hate to love. I've been known to get prickly when a recipe is described as being best of the best, particularly when the one doing the describing just happens to be the recipe creator. While it offends my sense of modesty and noblesse oblige, the folks at Cook's do that all the time. That irritates me, but sometimes you just have to give the devil his due. Their sisyphean testing produces wonderful recipes that work well and rarely disappoint. This pie was developed while they were testing various thickeners for fruit pies and they concluded that quick-cooking tapioca produced the best results. Fillings thickened with tapioca retained a clear appearance and set well without becoming rubbery. Now, as a matter of principle, I won't say this is the best strawberry and rhubarb pie I've ever had, but I must admit it is a contender. I hope you will give it a try. The crust is a bit of a bother, but the filling is a piece of cake. Here's how the folks at Cook's make this pie.
Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Cook's Illustrated
Pie Dough2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
1/3 cup water, chilled with ice, increasing up to 3/8 cup, if needed
3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 cups fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3–4 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk + 1 teaspoon water
1) Mix flour, salt, and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue to cut it in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.
2) Sprinkle all but 1 tablespoon of the ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon of remaining ice water if dough does not come together. Divide dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap separately in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
3) Remove dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss fruit with sugar, lemon juice and orange zest, vanilla extract, and tapioca; let stand for 15 minutes.
4) Roll larger dough disk on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer and fit dough into 9-inch Pyrex pie pan, leaving dough that overhangs the lip in place. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into pie shell. Scatter butter pieces over fruit. Refrigerate until ready to top with remaining dough.
5) Roll smaller disk on lightly floured surface into 10-inch circle. Lay over fruit. Trim top and bottom dough edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute dough in your own fashion, or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits at right angles on dough top to allow steam to escape. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes before baking. Beat egg yolk with water and brush top crust of pie with mixture.
6) Place pie on baking sheet; bake until top crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
7) Transfer pie to wire rack; let cool to almost room temperature so juices have time to thicken, from 1 to 2 hours. Yield: 8 servings.
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