We had our new friends/landlords over for pie this past Sunday. I decided to make 2 pies for variety. I made a strawberry rhubarb pie and a “meyer” lemon tart. I’ve made both of them before, so I figure everything should be nice and easy. FYI…. yeah I didn’t get a finish shot of both pies. This is the reality of pie. It gets made, then we eated it!
I used the following recipes:
- The crust for the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie was the All-Butter Pastry Dough by Melissa Roberts for Gourmet Magazine Sept 2009 (Posted by epicurious.com)
- The Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe came from smittenkitchen.com
- The entire Meyer Lemon Curd Tart recipe was from Anne Burrell posted on foodnetwork.com. I am not a fan of Anne Burrell the television personality. She’s too spunky for me, I much more prefer surly people. However, this recipe of hers is ah-mah-zing. I was using a Joy of Baking recipe for making curd before. The recipe had the sugar and lemon juice heated first then you had to temper in the eggs, then bring everything back up to temperature, then stir until it thickens. I hate tempering eggs. There is such a fine line between right up to temperature and “shit, now I have scrambled eggs.” With Anne’s recipe you just mix everything up and heat it up.
I went out Saturday to purchase ingredients. I was able to purchase the rhubarb and berries at a local U-pick patch at The Farm Depot in our little town. They were the tiny ones and they so sweet. Now I know why Deb at smittenkitchen.com recommends using them. The big ones are fine for chocolate dipping or making into cheesecake filled strawberries, but they are firmer and generally have less flavor, like so many other oversized fruits.
I headed to the grocery store for the rest of the ingredients. The only thing I couldn’t find was Meyer lemons. Oh man. 😦 This is something that I took for granted at my old house. There was a Meyer lemon tree in the back yard, so I could just pick them whenever. I made lemon curd, lemon bars or even lemon cake at a whim. So sad that I won’t have regular access to these beauties. Lucky for me, Josh is an internet wizard, who’s capable of finding information out about anything. He found online, that I should to cut the lemon juice in half and add orange juice for the other half. So I made a “mock Meyer” tart, but this worked great and had the added benefit of adding a little deeper yellow color to the curd. Think farm fresh egg yolk.
The first part of baking a pie is making the crust. I usually make the crust the night before and let it hydrate in the fridge overnight. In this case it got to sit for a few hours. Usually 30 mins will do. 2 important tips to making good crust: 1. Use the best butter you can afford. I tried Kate’s Butter from Maine. I was pretty darn good to lick straight off my fingers. The interesting thing about this butter was that it just crumbled when you cut it. That’s the first time I’ve seen butter do that. 2. The other thing is to not overwork the dough. I chop the butter into 1/2″ cubes using a pastry cutter and put it in the freezer while I get the rest of the ingredients ready. Then I use my food processor to cut the butter in. Once I see pea sized chunks I start to drizzle in the ICE COLD water. I use quick pulses. As soon as the dough pulls away from the center when pulsing, it is done. I then pour out the dough, roll it into a rough disk, wrap it plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge to chill/hydrate.
This was the dough after the pea sized chunks. I didn’t quite add enough water to get the dough to pull away from the center when mixing. I was able to squeeze a small amount of dough and have it stick together, though I really should have added more water, as you’ll see when I go to roll out the dough.
Meanwhile, the dough is in the fridge resting, now it’s time to prepare the strawberries and rhubarb. I roomed the stems from all the berries and cut them in 1/2″ size pieces. I also cut the rhubarb done to 1/2″ size pieces too. Josh made a request from the previous pie attempt to cut the strawberries and rhubarb the same size.
Mixing together the berries, rhubarb, sugars, salt, instant tapioca and grated granny smith apple. I added 1 grated granny smith apple to get more pectin into the pie. I always have trouble getting this pie to setup. This time I forgot to press out the extra moisture in the apple before adding it. Oops.
I lined the pie dish with the bottom crust, poured in the filling and dotted the top with MORE tasty butter. I added the top crust, egg washed the top, sprinkled on a little sugar for good measure and popped the pie into the oven. A hour went by…..
This crust came out of the fridge nice and hydrated with good chunks of butter, but I didn’t have enough flour on the cutting board when I went to roll it out. I also may have rolled it a wee bit too thin. I went to pull the crust of the wax paper and it stuck right in the middle. I managed to get it off, with only a tiny tear, but I failed to flour the dough before folding it back on itself. The result, the entire center of the dough stuck together. Poop. I was left with a big hole in the pie crust. I took a deep breath, then carefully molded the dough into the pan using extra pieces to fill in the ones that are missing. It worked pretty good. Next time though, the dough need to be thicker, especially around the edges. I popped the crust into the oven, then read the recipe again. Ah crap.
I quickly pulled out the crust, and the butter was already starting to melt. Anne suggests in her recipe, using foil inside the pan to help hold the edges of the tart nice and high. So I put the foil over the heated crust and smooshed the edges, which had already start to decline, right back up tall. Then, I filled the cavity with dried white beans to keep everything in it’s place. I placed the crust back in the oven. No one will ever know, right?
Heating up the Lemon Curd mixture. Anne suggests doing this in a saucepan, but I like safety, plus some of my pots are crappy. I used a double boiler to ensure even heating and gradual heating. My double boiler is a wide stainless steel mixing bowl, that I picked up at an Asian kitchen supple warehouse, over a medium pot with an 1″ or so of water. Be sure you have water in the pot for the whole process. No steam = no double boiler.
Delicious pats of butter and apparently the last thing that I took pictures of while making the tart. They were incorporated into the curd, 2 pats at a time. Once the butter was all integrated, I poured the curd into the pre-baked tart shell and poped into the oven. I cooked it for 25 mins or so, until the center was set, then I pulled it out of the oven and set it on the counter to cool partially. After most the heat was gone, I put it in the fridge to chill it. It setup great.
In the end, both pies came out great and were tasty. The tart was better the second day and as usual the Strawberry Rhubarb pie was runny. I did pick up The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum from the local library. I’m going to see what advice she has to help me work out the liquid technical difficulties that I have with fruit pies. I’ll post my findings later in the comments. I’m sure the fact that I didn’t dry out the granny smith apple before adding it to the pie didn’t help with the consistency problems. More pies will be on the way!