Last week, my daughter took her two younger boys and me to go strawberry picking. We landed at Spencer Farms in Noblesville, Indiana. These folks have grown strawberries and raspberries since 1982. They have lots of pie making produce in their farm store, fresh and frozen.
The weather was perfect. We had a blast! Not only did we pick strawberries, we picked a pint of fresh raspberries, too. In a week or so, black raspberries will be in – I can’t wait!
For whatever reason, my mom or grandmothers never made strawberry rhubarb pie that I can remember. I’m not quite sure why, as rhubarb is a staple in many Indiana gardens, and our family always had plenty of strawberries and other fresh fruit on hand. The only other time I ate a slice of this juicy-tart-and-sweet pie was at a friend’s bridal luncheon in the 70’s. I’ve never forgotten it. Needless to say, I’ll be planting my own rhubarb next spring.
Happily, in their farm market that day, Spencer’s had some fresh rhubarb calling out to me. What was I waiting for? A delicious, fresh baked pie – that’s what!
My daughter described this strawberry rhubarb pie as “mouthwatering!” In more ways than one, it truly is. Rhubarb gives the filling the right amount of tart, and the strawberries add another level of texture and flavor. The color is just spectacular! Served flaky and bubbly, you’ll want a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream to complete the presentation.
Time to confess. I’ve always prided myself in making homemade pie crust. Everyone in the family was an awesome pie crust maker. Even me! But, I don’t know what happened. Over the last few years, I’ve lost my touch. Truth be told, I stopped making pies because I dreaded making the crust. A friend of mine came to the rescue. She is a caterer, and recommended that I try Pillsbury pie crusts, you know, the ones in the refrigerator section of the grocery? I broke down, swallowed my pride, and used store-bought crusts for this pie. But you know, it wasn’t all that bad. Now, I’m not discouraging those of you who can belt one out in the blink of an eye, like my mom used to. But in a pinch and for the rest of us who are crust challenged, store-bought is not a bad option at all. And the time saved is well worth it, too. Many more pies to come from this Mimi!
OK – I’ve got that off my chest . . .
Let’s Bake Some Pie!
You’ll need two pie crusts – one for the bottom and one for the top rolled out into 11″ circles. Fit one crust into a 9″ pie pan, the excess crust draped gently over the rim of the pie plate.
In a bowl, mix together 3 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1/2″ pieces), and 3 1/2 cups of fresh, washed and hulled strawberries cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the berries. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup light brown sugar, one Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca.
This pie is JUICY. Some folks add flour or cornstarch as a thickener, but I find tapioca to be the hands down winner. While the pie is still juicy, tapioca makes the pie less runny. I also use tapioca in fresh cherry and peach pies for the exact same reason.
Fill the crust with the fruit filling, and dot the top with 2-3 Tablespoons cold butter, diced.
Top with the second crust. Seal the top and bottom crusts together, and crimp the edge. Beat one egg yolk with a teaspoonful or so of water, and brush on top. Sprinkle the crust with granulated sugar.
Beware – this pie will bubble over while it’s baking. Best to put it on a baking sheet or one of these handy pie things (Sorry, I don’t know what they’re called.) with a hole in the bottom. The rim catches the juices. The hole in the bottom of the pie thing helps to brown the bottom-center of the pie, especially critical when baking a juicy, fruit pie. I’ve seen them sold in several kitchen-gadgety places or you can find them on-line.
Pop the pie into a 425°F oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F, and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned, and the fruit juices are bubbling.
This is the last piece – what a sad sight. But notice how flaky and brown the crust turned out. And notice that the pie juices are not runny – Phenomenal!
I’m launched on a pie-making frenzy! It will be a good summer, indeed!!
- 3½ cups rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
- 3½ cups fresh strawberries, halved or cut into quarters, depending on their size
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup quick cooking tapioca
- 2-3 Tablespoons cold butter, diced
- Double crust for 9" pie plate, homemade or store bought, refrigerated pie crust
- In a large mixing bowl, add chopped rhubarb and prepared strawberries.
- Add granulated and brown sugars, lemon juice, salt, and tapioca. Gently stir or fold until all ingredients are combined.
- Place bottom crust rolled into an 11" circle into a 9" pie plate. Gently fold the crust over the rim of the pie plate.
- Add rhubarb/strawberry mixture to bottom crust.
- Dot the fruit mixture with cold, diced butter.
- Top the pie with the second crust.
- Gently beat together one egg yolk and one Tablespoon water. Brush the top of the pie with this mixture. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top crust.
- Place unbaked pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to catch the juices that overflow from the pie.
- Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is browned and juices are gently bubbling.
- Remove pie to a cooling rack. Bring to room temperature or just slightly warm, and serve.
- May be topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.