You know it's spring when rhubarb shoots appear in your yard. Finally, you have summer to look forward to and a whole season of fresh pies. Because of this early start and rhubarb's ubiquity in pies, it has even garnered the nickname "pie plant."
Rhubarb is incredibly sour when raw. It seriously makes you pucker. My parents grow rhubarb in their yard, and every spring when I was little, my dad and I would take a bite from a fresh stalk and compete to see who could recover enough to whistle first after such a tart bite. But don't worry; behind its sour bite is a distinctive citrusy and fruity flavor when cooked and tamed with sugar.
It does require a good quantity of sugar in the filling to offset the tartness of rhubarb, but here we use only enough to take the sour edge off. It ends up with a sweet and sour balance similar to a glass of pink lemonade. There's just a pinch of nutmeg and orange zest, but only as a subtle complement, so the rhubarb remains the star.
Buying in Season Rhubarb
Rhubarb season starts in April and lasts through July, making it one of the first fruits (technically vegetable) available for pies. But you also see it mixed later in the season with strawberries, blueberries, and other summer fruits. When shopping for rhubarb, look for thinner, redder stalks which are usually more tender and sweeter than the thicker, greener stalks.
Thickening Your Rhubarb Filling
In most fruit pies, I prefer to use tapioca starch or quick-cooking "minute" tapioca. That was the thickener we used most at the pie bakery where I used to work, and it does a great job of thickening the filling without getting too gel-like. It’s also a bonus that it cooks clear, so the brilliant pink hue of the rhubarb gets to shine.
To make sure the starch has had a chance to activate, bake the pie long enough that you can see the filling in the center of the pie bubbling.
Tips and Tricks for Making a Lattice Top
For some pies, it’s almost essential to show off with a lattice crust, and rhubarb pie with its bright pink filling is one of them. Lattice tops look impressive and can seem difficult. They're not as challenging as you'd imagine if you strategize just a bit and remember that in the end, it's just weaving.
Roll out the top crust and use a pastry wheel or pizza wheel to cut the dough into vertical strips about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch wide. Lay down 4 to 7 parallel strips across the pie evenly space.
Fold back every other strip so you can lay a strip of dough perpendicular to the others. Then, unfold the folded strips into their original position. The new perpendicular strip should now lie on top of the strips left unfolded, and underneath the strips that were folded back. Continue this weaving process until you finish the lattice.
Mix and Match Filling
Rhubarb's sour fruitiness tends to mix well with sweet summer fruits. The classic everybody knows and loves is strawberry rhubarb pie. Later in the season though, you can mix it with sweet blueberries, or a mix of berries.
Try subbing rhubarb in for anywhere from 25 to 50% of the fruit in any of your favorite fruit pies, depending on how tart you’d like your pie to be.
Store the baked pie loosely covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to two days or refrigerated for up to 4 days.
This pie can be frozen before or after baking.
- To freeze before baking: Wrap the pie tightly with plastic wrap or place it in a zip-top freezer bag. Bake it directly from the freezer following the recipe, though it may need an extra 15 minutes in the oven.
- To freeze a baked pie: Let it cool completely, then place the pie uncovered in the freezer. Once it's completely frozen, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or place it in a zip-top freezer bag. When ready to serve, thaw the pie on the counter. A frozen pie will keep for up to 3 months.
Make More Pie Please!
The pie crust used in this recipe can be made up to 2 days in advance. If you’re making it the day of, you’ll need to budget about 2 hours of time to make it and let it chill.
1 full recipe Perfect Pie Crust (2 single crusts)
All-purpose flour, for rolling the dough
6 cups (1 3/4 pounds or 800g) fresh rhubarb, chopped
1/4 teaspoon packed grated orange zest
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (38g) tapioca starch
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon heavy cream, half and half, or milk
1 large egg yolk
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven:
Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450°F.
Make the pie dough:
Make the pie dough, divide it into two equal disks, and chill the disks in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Roll out the dough:
Remove one disk from the refrigerator. Dust your countertop lightly with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to an 11-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick.
To roll the dough, start at the center and roll outwards to the edges. Rotate the dough as you roll to keep the dough circular. If the dough starts to stick to the countertop or rolling pin, lightly dust it with more flour.
Transfer to pie dish:
Carefully transfer the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. To do this while minimizing the risk of tearing the dough, roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll it into the pie dish. Gently press in the dough to line the pie dish.
Make the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, toss the chopped rhubarb with the orange zest.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, tapioca starch, ground nutmeg, and salt to combine. Pour the sugar mixture over the chopped rhubarb and toss with a rubber spatula to coat.
Transfer filling to the crust:
Transfer the filling into the bottom crust and spread it out evenly. Depending on the depth of your pie plate, the filling will be rounded, but it will settle as it bakes.
Make the lattice top:
Roll out the second disk of dough following the same method as the first. Use a pastry wheel or a pizza wheel to cut a circle of dough into vertical strips that measure 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch wide.
To make a lattice, lay down 4 to 7 strips across the pie parallel to each other and spaced out evenly. Fold back every other strip and lay a long strip of dough perpendicular to the other strips in the center of the pie. Unfold the folded strips so they lie on top of the perpendicular strip.
Now fold back the parallel strips that lie underneath the perpendicular strip and lay down another perpendicular strip next to the first. Unfold the folded strips to cover the second perpendicular strip. Continue this weaving process until the lattice is complete.
Trim the edges and fold the dough over the edges of the lattice, tucking the top crust under the bottom crust, so the edge of the fold is flush with the outer rim of the pie dish. Use your fingers to crimp and seal the edges.
Brush the pie with the egg wash:
In a small bowl, whisk the cream and egg yolk to make an egg wash. Use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash over the top crust. Sprinkle the top generously with the turbinado sugar.
Bake the pie:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil to catch any drippings. If you save and reuse parchment paper, this is a good time to reuse an old piece.
Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake it for 15 minutes.
Then, reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue baking for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling in the center. If the edges of the pie brown too quickly, cover them with a pie shield or strips of aluminum foil.
Check your pie at the 1 hour mark for doneness.
Cool and serve:
Transfer the pie onto a wire rack to cool. Let it cool completely before slicing and serving.
Store the baked pie loosely covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below!
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||31%|
|Total Carbohydrate 69g||25%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||14%|
|Total Sugars 29g|
|Vitamin C 8mg||40%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|