Monday, August 4, 2008

Ann's June Pie - Rhubarb Custard

I had been quite keen to make a rhubarb pie during the year - after all, it is the pie plant. Being from Arizona, I have no idea of when things are in season, except for citrus - it's one of the 5 C's! Someone clued me in that early summer is rhubarb season and said that she'd seen some at the local farmers' market, so I headed down the next Saturday on the lookout. I was so disappointed to come home empty-handed! (Well, not quite - I was talked into three pounds of organic ground beef for $10.) This was actually the same weekend I made the watermelon pies, and had planned to just make an extra pie for kicks for the sake of getting a rhubarb pie this season. It seemed so Midwestern, and I just had to have one. So I mentioned this to Miss Hass's fiance, Ike, who lives on a lovely, picturesque farm just outside of town. I took pictures with my cell phone of a recent trip out to the farm, but I can't get them out of my phone and onto a computer screen. Suffice it to say that there were rolling hills, a white clap-board house, and tractors. You know, south-central Indiana at its finest. Anyway, back on topic. So I told Ike that I'd wanted to make a rhubarb pie and he said that his neighbor currently had a ton and he could get me some. We discussed how silly it is that so many people don't like rhubarb (what is there not to like?!). This reminded me that my dad's favorite pie is strawberry-rhubarb, so I considered making one in his honor. However, I found a recipe that I couldn't pass up...guess where????

According to the freaking awesome Pie book, Sumner, WA is considered the rhubarb pie capital of the country by more than one source. So Ken Haedrich called up the mayor and asked for the best recipe, and this is the one she supplied. It's from the St. Andrew's Church cookbook, which I think is great because it's a passed down recipe. That's what pie is all about!

It looks like Christmas pie!

This pie was so easy to make. I had a dough already made in the freezer (although it looked kind of greyish when I pulled it out, but it baked up fine), and then I mixed the rhubarb with sugar, eggs, milk, and nutmeg, which gave it deeper flavor than I expected from a summer pie, but was mellow and soothing to the plucky rhubarb. As multiple friends noted, it seemed like a breakfast pie, which I suspect came from the nutmeg. Mr. Haedrich also pointed out in this notes that this isn't a thick custard pie, but rather a light custard that sinks beneath the fruit (is rhubarb a fruit, though? I don't know). Some of my tasters weren't crazy about this pie, but they just don't understand the pleasures of rhubarb with it's sour, vinegary flavor offset with sugar. It's heavenly to me!

La Dolcezza modeled the pie for me because I looked wretched that day...something about rain and exercise. I also made a travesty of serving it - somehow all the pieces fell apart, but they tasted so good!

Sumner, Washington, Rhubarb Custard Pie

from Pie: 300 Tried-And-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie by Ken Haedrich

1 single pie crust, rolled out and fitted into pie plate, chilled for 15 minutes before filling


3 cups diced fresh rhubarb stalks
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Big pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into small pieces

Combine the rhubarb, sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Toss well, then set aside for several minutes to juice. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a small bowl. Add to the fruit, stirring well to combine. Scrape the filling into the chilled pie shell, smoothing the top of the fruit with a spoon. Dot the filling with the butter.

Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake until the top is crusted over and the filling is set, 50 to 55 minutes, rotating the pie 180 degrees halfway through the baking, so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool. Serve barely warm, at room temperature, or chilled, with a dollop of whipped cream.


La Dolcezza said...

It was a tasty pie. Maybe not my favorite of the year, but tasty. I am not sure why I consented to let you put that picture of me up though. I guess I don't really care that I look like I have all sorts of dohickeys coming out of my head.

Control said...

This pie looks like a bacon quiche to me, and I'm sad I missed it, even though there's no bacon.

La Dolcezza said...

I came to look for a new pie. No new pie. :( Just a picture of me with some hay in my hair.

Elizabeth said...

This is your only pie that looks nasty. I'm going to have to trust that in person that thing didn't look just like hurl.