Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sometimes, Shortcuts are Okay -- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

 I think I have an irrational fear of making pie crusts.

Not sure why, as I've definitely watched them be made before, and there really is nothing too difficult about it... I think... but, suffice to say, I have yet to tackle making my own. Maybe because my friend who works at Panera rolls his eyes whenever I suggest we try to make a pie crust from scratch (we often meet up for drinks and baking), and says "I haaaate cutting butter, let's just buy a crust!" If a part time baker who knows what he's doing wants to skip the difficult stuff, why shouldn't I? And he makes "cutting butter" sound like the most arduous task ever. Every pie I've ever made has been a store bought crust, aside from those that use a simple graham cracker one--that, I can do.

The one time I tried to make a tart the dough refused to roll, so instead of a lovely, uniform crust that you roll out and cut to size, I took chunks of dough and pressed them into the tart pan. It was lovely and delicious and the lemon curd covered the uneven bits nicely. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm lazy or just resourceful.

Refrigerated pie crusts just save so much time, and are so versatile! I always keep one in the fridge, just in case. Right next to the Pilsbury Crescent Rolls, on the off-chance friends are coming over and I need to whip up a quick Brie en Croute. And it goes well with the Grands Biscuits, which make superb donuts (or Cronuts!) in a pinch. When the spirit moves me, I throw together an apple pie. Or I roll out the crust a bit and make hand pies. My strawberry cheesecake fried hand pies were a hit during Alice in Wonderland rehearsals, let me tell you. It's nice to not have to factor in another 40 minutes into the process of these simple recipes, so the refrigerated doughs stay a staple in my kitchen.

My friend this past weekend described my blog as, "recipes for people who don't know how to cook." I think this is pretty apt. I have no formal training, and am pretty much all self-taught via Google searches and cook book studying. My motto around here seems to be, "if I can make it, so can you!"

So, I'm cool with these refrigerated doughs. No shame. Just like how I'm not adverse to making a canned soup casserole. Sometimes the processed stuff just works, to get that nice comfort-food feel.

Simple Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

  • 2 circles pie dough (pre-made or make your own)
  • 4 large stalks rhubarb, sliced into 1 inch pieces (about 1.5 cups)
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs corn starch
  • 3 tbs butter, cut into thin slices
  • 1 egg, whisked

-Carefully press one circle of pie dough into pie pan, set aside.

-In a large bowl, mix together the strawberries and rhubarb. Sprinkle in sugar, and let sit at room temp for about 20 minutes so that the fruit releases its sweetness. Mix in corn starch.

-Pour berry mixture into the prepared pie crust and top with evenly distributed pats of butter. Top with the other pie crust circle, and prick with a fork to vent. Optional: make a pretty heart shape.

-Brush the egg all over the crust. This will make it lovely and golden brown.

-Bake according to crust directions--likely it'll be "bake at 350 for 30 mins" or something--until crust is golden brown and berries have broken down a bit. Cool, then serve.

*Double this if you don't like the lumpy-bumpy texture of the pie as is. The berries will break down and deflate the pie, so really pile it high if you want a more domed shape. I like the look of it as-is, however. Very rustic!


  1. I admit, sometimes I really want to go the pre-made pie crust route but then the guilt gets to me. After seeing a pie dough demonstration last year, I finally learned the proper way to make it via the food processor and let me tell you - it changed my life! So much easier than "cutting butter". Still hate rolling dough though.

  2. Sadly, most refridgerated pie doughs have lard, so I have to skip them. I just don't make pie that often, which is a little sad!

  3. Love your motto! I don't mind making pie crust -- when I have the time to do it!

  4. Girl! Use a food processor to cut the butter, that's what I do! So easy, and homemade crust is seriously so much yummier!

  5. I remember once when I was growing up that my mom made a pie and a guest complimented her on the crust. She said, "Thank you" and I blurted out, "It's from a box!!" Oh, if looks could kill. ;) It's true though, the refrigerated crusts are pretty good. I enjoy making pie crust but I still buy the refrigerated stuff when I know I'll be short on time.

  6. I'm with you, store bought pie crusts are the only way to go. Seriously, $2 and I don't have to roll out crust. Deal.

  7. Oh, don't do it by hand - just throw it in the food processor and pulse a few times! I know store-bought is so tempting, but the taste of homemade is so worth it. It may not look picture perfect (mine never do), but just call it a "rustic [flavor] pie" to CYA :)

  8. I have to admit, I can't stand making pies because of having to make the crust. It just seems like too many steps for a dessert.

  9. I love this pie, it's gorgeous. Nothing better than pie! Except maybe two pies.

  10. I love short cuts :) I actually make my pastry in bulk and freeze it in packs :)

  11. I almost always make my own pie crust, but it's really so much easier than you think! Especially if you have a food processor...just a few pulses and voila! Your butter is cut into your flour :P

    Either way this pie is gorgeous!!

  12. My grandmother makes a killer apple pie, and she let it slip once that she switched to store bought crusts. She had needed to use store bought in a pinch one day, and when no one noticed she decided the saved effort was worth it! I try to do homemade but sometimes it's just nice to cut that step out. I usually have one stashed in my freezer too-in case I have a pie emergency :)

  13. Like you, I am pretty much self/Google taught when it comes to the kitchen. This is my favorite pie crust ever: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/all_butter_crust_for_sweet_and_savory_pies_pate_brisee/. Not only is it perfectly amazing, but it is so easy. And I'll make them ahead and keep them in the freezer.