Do you find that some of your best recipes come about when you make a mistake? This one surely did. Ever since I stumbled upon Laurie Neverman’s old fashioned rhubarb custard pie, I’d had a hankering to taste it.
The thought of creamy custard and tartly sweet rhubarb in a whole wheat lattice crust rolled around in my brain and translated itself into tantalizingly phantom taste bud sensations. I thought I’d have to wait until next year, rhubarb season being so short, and what did I find at the green grocer the other day but an armful of gorgeous, long, nearly two-inch thick stalks of rhubarb.
Luckily, I had two pie crust dough rounds in the freezer, just waiting to be thawed and rolled out. I make most of my pie crusts with butter, but I sometimes make them vegan, with coconut oil, and that’s what these were. (Here’s my whole wheat pastry recipe.) I wanted to see how the coconut oil crust would do after freezing and thawing. They’d been there a few months, so now was the perfect time to test them.
Alas, I was in a hurry the day I baked this pie and didn’t take any photographs until it came from the oven, so that’s all I can show you. What I can tell you is this: Some of the coconut oil worked its way from the dough to the wrapper and left a skin on top of the frozen rounds. After thawing, I worked that oily layer back into the dough as best I could without massaging it overly much. Then I rolled out as usual.
While I rolled, little pea-size globules of hardened oil popped out of the dough, kind of like popcorn popping in extremely slow motion. The dough was greasy and difficult to handle, and turned out a little on the tough side after baking. So when I want to freeze pie crust dough for all that extra holiday baking, I’ll stick with my tried and true butter crust.
Back to the pie and the mistake! I brought those great wands of rhubarb home, scrubbed them well, chopped up three cups as Laurie’s recipe calls for, whisked the flour and sugar together, then mixed it in with the rhubarb and three beaten eggs and poured it all into freshly rolled bottom pie crust–in a deep-dish nine-inch pie plate.
Big mistake! If I’d given it a moment’s thought, I’d have known three cups couldn’t possibly fill a deep-dish pie plate. It barely filled half. Luckily, I had nearly a quart of strawberries in the fridge, so I cleaned and chopped them quickly, tossed them with a little extra flour and sugar, beat one more egg and mixed it in and poured the whole smosh right on top of the rhubarb mixture. Quickly laced a lattice crust across the top and boom, into the hot oven.
Of course, that deep dish pie took twice as long to bake as Laurie’s recipe, so we watched and waited, and waited and watched, going nearly crazy with the scents of all those good ingredients co-mingling and working their magic.
Finally, it was done. While it cooled, I snapped a few photographs. Then we ate it. Not the whole thing, of course! We restrained ourselves, barely. Rhubarb pie is my sweetheart’s favorite, bar none. I was concerned that the addition of the egg might be disappointing, but no. This is a new favorite. To heck with diabetes. To heck with anything. It’s a good thing rhubarb season stays short.
We decided to focus on the positive. We were getting a big helping of fruits and vegetables in every bite, not to mention whole grains and supposedly heart-healthy coconut oil to boot. Why, this pie, we decided, is practically a health food bonanza! (You know I’m joking, right?)
So I’m keeping this recipe. Sure, I’ll probably tweak it a bit as I go along. I always do. But this is the starting point.
Strawberry rhubarb custard pie
Not too tart and not too sweet, this pie weds the flavors of rhubarb and strawberries perfectly with the creaminess of a simple custard that makes itself while the pie bakes. What you taste, when you dig in, is a kind of sweet-tart-creamy heaven, all mixed with the crunchy, tender, flakiness of whole wheat pastry.
- 2 whole wheat pastry rounds for 9″ deep-dish pie, ready to roll out
- 1 C + 1 T evaporated cane juice (table sugar)
- 3 T whole wheat flour, divided
- 3 medium eggs, beaten
- 3 C diced fresh rhubarb
- 3 C diced fresh strawberries
- 1 T plain yogurt or egg wash (1 whole egg or egg white, beaten with 1 T water)
- Preheat oven to 450° Fahrenheit (F).
- Roll out the first pastry and line the pie plate; prick the bottom every 2-3 inches with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle one tablespoon flour over the bottom of the pie crust.
- Roll out the second pastry and cut into 1/2″-3/4″ ribbons, however wide you like your top lattice.
- Whisk together the remaining flour and all but 2 teaspoons sugar.
- In large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries and sugar, then add eggs and mix gently to distribute throughout.
- Pour mixture into prepared pie plate and add the lattice.*
- In small dish, combine the yogurt or egg wash and remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Brush the mixture lightly over the lattice and edges of the crust. Cover rim with pie shield and bake at 450° F for ten minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and bake 35 minutes until done, removing pie shield in last ten minutes to brown crust.
- Cool as long as you can stand it, slice, serve and, well, try to stick to only one piece. We wanted more right away!
The custard makes this pie rich enough, you don’t want or need ice cream with it, unless you need pie as an excuse to eat more ice cream.
*Laurie suggests building the lattice on waxed paper, sealing it to itself well, then laying it over the pie. I haven’t tried that yet.
This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.
Got a tale to share of discovering a new recipe when you made a mistake with another one? I’d love to hear it!
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