Monday, January 23, 2012

January 23: Rhubarb Pie Day & National Pie Day

Some calendars identify today as National Pie Day, while others identify today as National Rhubarb Pie Day.  Actually, today IS National Pie Day, but since I'm a bit of a nerd and I believe National Pie (Pi) Day is March 14th, I'm gonna go with today being National Rhubarb Pie Day.  (And hey!  Making a rhubarb pie today actually kind of honors National Pie Day, too!)

Now, I've had rhubarb in pies before (the Purple Pie Place in Custer, SD, has the best strawberry rhubarb pie I've ever had) but never have I had just a plain rhubarb pie.  I was determined to celebrate today by making a rhubarb pie from scratch.  Probably not my best idea, since I can't remember the last time I made a pie entirely from scratch.  I looked around on the web and in my cookbooks for a rhubarb pie recipe that I wouldn't need to buy any additional ingredients beyond what I already had.  In the process, I found the pie section of the Rhubarb Compendium.  It's a truly impressive collection of recipes all based around rhubarb. 

I found plenty of recipes that I could work with, but in my hubris (or excitement?  or "desire to experiment?") I chose to throw all the recipes out the window (figuratively, of course) and just threw together my own.  Remember how I said earlier, "probably not my best idea?"  Yeah....

I started with this pie crust recipe from AllRecipes.  After reading the comments, I did stray a little - I put the shortening in the freezer before use to make it cold, used only 1/2 a cup of very cold water, and added 2 tablespoons of sugar.  It was very simple and easy to make - it'll be a recipe I keep around.

Then, it was time for the filling and... well, this is where things got creative.  (Meaning: I said, "Recipe?  I don't need stinkin' recipe!")

I chopped up four heaping cups of rhubarb and then tossed it with two cups of sugar and six tablespoons of flour.  Dumped the mixture onto the crust, baked with crust edges covered in tinfoil for 30 minutes at 425, then 25 minutes at 350, removed the tinfoil and cooked for another 15 minutes at 350.

Based on the resulting pie, I made two mistakes, the first being too much sugar.  (I suppose the argument could be made that my first mistake was choosing to not follow a recipe.)  The pie crust came out wonderfully, but the filling was too sweet.  Second mistake?  Not putting the flour and sugar on the crust in the pie pan, then putting the rhubarb on top of that.  The result was some flour and sugar stayed on top and didn't mix with the rhubarb and the filling came out very runny.  Criticism recieved was that it was "pie soup," too sweet, and the crust was the only edible part.

I may try this again, reducing the sugar and putting the flour and sugar on the bottom.  In the meantime, to keep the pie from being a waste, I'll probably scoop out the filling, boil it down a little more, maybe add lemon juice for some tartness, and use it as a topping for pancakes or waffles.

So, chalk up one on the kitchen screw up scoreboard, but I'm still going to keep playing around in the kitchen.

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