Today is my mother’s birthday and in her honor I’m making a rhubarb pie, which was a pie she often made. She grew rhubarb in our yard and we ate a LOT of rhubarb (mostly stewed, with the odd pie). I believe that she only had 3 plants so I don’t quite know how there could have been the enormous amounts of rhubarb I remember.
I have her cookbook which she bought on her honeymoon.
I’ve modified her recipe slightly. It only called for 2 cups of rhubarb and I like more filling than that in my pies, so I use 4 cups. I didn’t double the sugar, though, because I like my pie a little tarter than the original recipe made, so I went from 1 cup of sugar to 1 1/2. Everything else is the same.
Cut up 4 cups of rhubarb into small pieces.
Put the rhubarb into a mixing bowl. Mix 1 1/2 cups of sugar with 3 T of flour. Break an egg into the bowl of rhubarb, stir, then add the sugar-flour mixture and mix thoroughly.
Prepare 2 9″ crusts. I spent a long time learning to make flaky pie crust but now I use the Pillsbury crusts that come rolled up in the refrigerator roll section. They are very good if you roll them out a little bigger and thinner, AND if you don’t keep them in the freezer so long that they get freezer-burned (oops). (This also allows you to make almost as much mess as if you were making pie crust from scratch.) I enjoy using my mother’s rolling pin and a pie plate my sister gave her.
If you want to make your own crust, here’s how I do it. Put 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt in the work bowl of a food processor, along with the steel knife. Put the whole thing in the freezer. Put about 3/4 cup of shortening in a measuring cup and put it in the freezer until it’s mostly hard. Cut the shortening into chunks, add to the food processor, and process until you have small crumbs. Don’t go on and on or the shortening will warm up and the bits will start to get larger. Dump the mixture into a mixing bowl and add 6 T of ice water. Stir with a fork until it forms a ball. Divide into 2 pieces (the one for the bottom can be a little larger than the piece for the top). To roll, form the dough into a thick cookie. Roll from the center out in all directions, patching any cracks that start to form before they get too big. Flip the crust over before it gets too big and keep rolling until it’s the right size.
Fold the pie crust in half and lift it into the pie plate.
Then open it up and make sure it’s centered. Pour in the filling. The rhubarb gives off a lot of juice and just in the short time it has been standing, a lot of the sugar has dissolved. Sometimes I let it stand for an hour or so, stirring occasionally, until it all dissolves. I can’t give any good reason for doing that.
Roll out the other crust. Moisten the lip of the bottom crust all the way around, then fold the top crust in half and put it on top. Press around the rim to seal the pie. If there’s excess dough, trim it so it’s even. Go around the pie folding the cut edge of the crust to the outside.
Then crimp it with your fingers and cut some slits or a fancy R. It’s a good idea to press the crimp against the pie plate here and there to keep the top crust from shrinking down. I forgot to do that.
Bake in an oven preheated to 425 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350, and give it another 30 or 40 minutes. The pie is done when you can see the filling bubbling.
Another thing my mother used to do when we were small was make what I call pie crust sticks. Roll out the leftover dough into some sort of oval or rectangle and sprinkle half of it with sugar and cinnamon. (She used to add pats of butter to the filling, which probably made the sugar melt better, but I don’t do that.)
Fold the other half over the filling. Put it on a baking sheet and cut into sticks. These will be done around the time you need to turn the oven down.
Happy birthday, Mom!