Monday, May 24, 2010

Rhubarb Pie... you seemed so wrong but tasted so right

First post in a long time... blog I've missed you. I think my two readers have given up on me long ago... So, what has finally inspired me to wax poetic? Springtime and Rhubarb pie.

DOOMED rhubarb pie. This was the pie that wasn't supposed to be. The pie that almost went into the trash, a few times. But tonight (one day old) we dug in, and wow, how did that happen??????

It seemed so wrong....

Went to the farmer's market. Its been so long since we had any fresh fruit in Colorado... those fall apples are long, long gone. I was too eager for the rhubarb. It isn't quite red yet. But I bought some anyway with all the best intentions of making a pie. That was over a week ago, and the pie just didn't happen. Day after day, I looked in wistfully at the rhubarb growing limp and dull in plastic bags.

(Yesterday, Sunday afternoon) House is a mess, no laundry done for the coming week, kitchen filled with dirty dishes, haven't gone for a run all weekend, don't know what to make for dinner. And I'm feeling stressed because tomorrow the work week starts again.

My fabulous husband says, "Relax, let's forget cleaning, why don't you and Ewan make that rhubarb pie you've been meaning to make?"

I protest, "The rhubarb is too old, it won't taste good." He reminds me that baking is for fun (what???)... so I relent, and almost decide to enjoy myself.

But not quite... What else went wrong?

  • I decided to make a whole wheat crust with toasted wheat germ, but burnt the wheat germ once, then burnt the second batch, then decided to throw it in anyway.
  • When it came time to roll the crust out, I realized that I have left ALL of my pie pans at other people's houses, and all I have is a 9-inch tart pan. Who the hell has heard of a rhubarb TART?? How do you put a top crust on that?
  • AND of course, cursed with my usual disastrous touch for pie crust, I ended up with a big, dry crumbly, slightly burnt mess. As I'm trying to "roll" out this pile of dust, my son is yelling, "MOMMY, MOMMY, DO YOU WANT THE RED HIPPOPOTAMUS OR THE BLUE HIPPOPOTAMUS? RED OR BLUE? RED OR BLUE? RED OR BLUE?" waiting expectantly for me to take an invisible hippo out of his empty hands.
There weren't tears, but it is possible that a rolling pin got put back in its drawer with slightly more enthusiasm than normal. So... torn between perfectionism and throwing it away, I just threw the whole ugly thing in the pan.

For the filling, I skipped all spices and just used the limp rhubarb, sugar, honey, flour, a pinch of salt and a lot of ginger, probably 1/4 cup.

Then I rolled out the 2nd crust and laid it on top, which is about all you can do with a tart pan that has no edges.

In the oven, the whole thing leaked burnt, caramelized sugar from the top and bottom of the undersized pan.

My hopes were low, I didn't even stay up last night to try it. So, so wrong.

But, it tasted so right....
To make a long story, well, slightly longer by continuing to ramble, we ate the pie for dessert tonight. And I can truly say, it is the best pie I've ever made. Nutty, flaky and flavorful whole wheat crust (with Farmer John's local, completely unrefined flour, of course!!) And let's just say, you had better be able to hold your ginger to enjoy this pie... but after the first slightly, medicinal gingery bite, I couldn't get enough. Interesting, powerful flavors to welcome in Colorado's fruit season.

By the way - JSue, this one is for you in homage to our late night rhubarb strawberry pie last June. I'll never have a piece of rhubarb pie again without thinking of your perfectly expressed sentiment from last year, "What, you're only going to have one piece?"