18 May 2011

Runny Rhubarb and Sloppy Strawberries

It's high time I posted another recipe here. And since it's strawberry season, what could be more appropriate than my favoritest strawberry pie ever? I'm preforming an experiment this year, though. When I made this last year, I ended up with strawberry rhubarb soup in a pie crust bowl. Delicious, but hard to eat. So I did some snooping and discovered that wheat flour does not make a very effective thickening agent in fruit pies, as it tends to break down in acidic environments. The original recipe uses wheat flour. So this time I'm substituting tapioca flour for the wheat flour, as tapioca flour does not break down. Also, I'm macerating the rhubarb in sugar overnight to coax out some of the excess juice. Hopefully these measures will produce a less soupy pie.

I took ingredients from the original recipe (which can be found in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook) and the idea to macerate the rhubarb in sugar overnight from Greg Patent's Baking in America.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbsp tapioca flour
4 cups (1/4 inch peeled pieces) rhubarb stalks
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sliced strawberries

1. Mix together the rhubarb and sugar in a bowl and let sit overnight or for 6-8 hours (refrigerate if your kitchen is warm).

2. Stir the rhubarb mixture to dissolve any remaining sugar. Set a strainer over a bowl, transfer rhubarb mixture to it, and let drain for about 1 hour. Measure the juice, adding water if necessary to equal 3/4 cup.

3. Adjust one oven rack to the center position and set a baking sheet on the rack (to catch all the gooey stuff that inevitably bubbles over). Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line pie pan with dough.

4. Whisk together rhubarb juice and tapioca flour and stir in the rhubarb and strawberries. Spoon the mixture into the bottom crust, mounding it slightly in the center. Dot with the butter.

6. Roll out remaining dough, wrap it around the rolling pin and unroll it over the top of the pie. Make slits in the top in a pinwheel pattern (or make a lattice top, which is how we've always done it). Crimp edges.

7. Place pie on top of the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 40-45 minutes more until juices start bubbling up and the crust is browned. Cool pie on wire rack before serving (filling will be runny if cut too soon).

Easy Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1. Mix 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon each salt and sugar in a medium-size bowl. Cut 2 sticks chilled unsalted butter into pieces. With a pastry blender, cut in butter, working until mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. Add 4 tablespoons ice water; work with hands until dough comes together. If dough is still crumbly, add more ice water a tablespoon at a time (up to 4 more tablespoons). Do not overwork.

3. Divide dough in half, and flatten halves into disks. Wrap disks separately in plastic; refrigerate at least 1 hour.

4. To form the pie shell, roll the dough on a floured surface into a 14-inch round. Wrap around rolling pin and carefully unroll over a 9-inch pie plate.

5. Fit gently into bottom and side of plate. Use kitchen shears to trim dough to a 1-inch overhang; fold under, and seal to form a rim.

The result?

Pie perfection! It didn't run at all! After convincing myself I would never be able to make a fruit pie that didn't have to be eaten with a spoon, this is a thrilling triumph! Wahoo!

So to sum up: Tapioca flour ROCKS in fruit pies. Take note.

Oh, and it tasted awesome, too.

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