Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rhubarb Pie with Vanilla, Strawberries and Lemon Balm

The standard strawberry rhubarb formula gets twisted with this version, which uses 100% fruit strawberry jam for convenience without loss of fresh fruit flavour. The filling gets added notes of vanilla, cinnamon and lemon balm for a true bakery wonder!

Rhubarb Pie with Vanilla, Strawberries and Lemon Balm

I never used to think I'd be a strawberry-rhubarb kind of gal. Truth be told, in the middle of Summer I'd still pick a perfectly gooey cherry pie over anything, but I have to say, a homemade pastry with local strawberries and rhubarb would be a mighty close second!

I'm almost 100% sure my love for the sweet-tart combination comes from my Summer weekends spent with my Grandma. I would watch (and try to help) as she plucked rhubarb, dill and cucumbers from her community garden, and help (and eat) when we went strawberry picking (or choosing, depending on the energy levels that day). I never got to see her make the jam, pickles and pies, but sure as anything, come Summer's end we'd have a pie and a few extra jars in our fridge! Aside from her holiday mashed potatoes, I honestly can't think of anything else she made that was super-spectacular (sorry, Grandma). Somehow, though, she managed to get the balance of sour and sweet just right, and I was a convert.

Obviously, I have more than my fair share of strawberry-rhubarb concoctions - not the least of them being pies! This time around I decided to utilize a part-jar of strawberry jam I had made early in the Summer and do a riff on this one from last year, making a different crust (that smells like doughnuts when it bakes!). In the filling, I added layers of flavour for a truly unique pie experience: cinnamon and vanilla (just a dash of each) added a real richness and extra sweet feel to the mixture, while a dash of minced fresh lemon balm from the garden brought a slightly herbal, citrusy brightness. The homemade jam was pretty plain-jane and made with local honey, so all I tasted was fruitiness on that end, mingling with the tangy backyard rhubarb.

While it's certainly not traditional - Grandma would never make pie like this! - it is absolutely fantastic, and a perfect cap to a backyard BBQ or a leisurely meal at the cottage, boat or trailer. Don't forget the ice cream!

Rhubarb Pie with Vanilla, Strawberries and Lemon Balm
Makes one (10") pie, 12 slices
4.5 oz all-purpose flour
3.5 oz whole wheat flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
4.6 oz vegetable shortening
1 oz tallow* or lard
6 tablespoons ice water
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Filling:
5 cups sliced rhubarb
¾ cup sugar, divided
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
4-5 leaves minced lemon balm (optional)
½ cup all natural strawberry jam (homemade or high-fruit percentage storebought)
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup tapioca flour
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1 tsp raw sugar

*I rendered my own tallow, which gives the crust an "old fashioned doughnut" taste. Otherwise good quality lard works - I haven't done this crust with all shortening.
  1. In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb with ¼ cup sugar, cinnamon and lemon balm. Cover and let stand 2-3 hours.
  2. Drain the juice and set aside.
  3. Heat the oven to 425F.
  4. Combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  5. Cut in the shortening and tallow until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  6. Sprinkle in the water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring with a fork until blended.
  7. Divide into two balls, one about ⅔ of the mass, the other the remaining third.
  8. Wrap the smaller ball in plastic and set aside.
  9. Roll out the larger ball to about 12” in diameter and place in a 10” pie pan, pressing it into place.
  10. Sprinkle bottom with raw sugar (this keeps it from getting soggy!) and place in the fridge.
  11. Add the jam and vanilla to the rhubarb mixture.
  12. Whisk together the remaining sugar and tapioca flour and fold through the rhubarb mixture until thoroughly incorporated.
  13. Roll out the top crust and cut to make a pattern / lattice (if you want a solid top, you’ll need to multiply the crust recipe by 1.5).
  14. Place the top crust over the rhubarb and place pie on a cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash or milk if desired.
  15. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F bake 30 minutes longer.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 276.6
Total Fat: 13.4 g
Cholesterol: 8.4 mg
Sodium: 2.8 mg
Total Carbs: 37.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
Protein: 2.9 g