Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie!

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Few things make me happier on an annual basis than rhubarb season.  Maybe strawberry-rhubarb pie is old-fashioned, but there’s something about the almost cloyingly sweet juiciness of ripe strawberries paired with the crunchy tartness of rhubarb that sends me over the moon.  I love to bake, I love dessert….but I don’t love things to be TOO too sweet.  So when spring finally arrives after what feels like an endless New England winter, and that first time I walk into the produce section of my local grocery store and am greeted with a bin of rhubarb….oh man, there are no words for my joy.

Pair this with the fact that Adam loves pie – and I mean, most people like pie, but he LOVES pie – and I knew today that I wanted to surprise him and bake up a scrumptious pie while he was at work.  Plus, let’s face it, I just really wanted to eat pie.

The “recipe” I use is cobbled together from various recipes I’ve looked at for strawberry-rhubarb pie along with some trial and error from things I’ve tried over the years, some which worked, some which didn’t.

I personally make my own crust, although for those less dough-inclined, this pie could be so super super simple with a store-bought crust – and they’re not bad nowadays!  (Disclaimer: I use store-bought pie crust dough when making chicken pot pie for a quick weeknight dinner.)  I’ve also gone through various crust recipes over the years – for a looooong time I stayed with the recipe my aforementioned middle school Home Ec teacher, Mrs. Dobos, gave us.  But the one I use now was recommended to me by my mom, and is adapted from a Food Network blueberry pie recipe.

For the crust (2-crust pie): 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (the original recipe calls for shortening, but I’m religiously a butter girl)
1 egg
2 Tbsp water
1/2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  For this I use my trusty pastry blender but two butter knives would work fine.  (Note: Many people – including my mom – will just throw this in the food processor for ease, and it definitely works, but I have this weird thing where, when I’m making dough, I like to do it by hand and throw some love into it.  Cheesy.  I’m aware.)

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In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, water, and vinegar until blended.  Pour it into the dry dough mix and stir lightly with a fork, and then roll up your sleeves and get your fingers in there.  Mix it together and knead lightly until the whole thing forms a neat smooth ball.

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Then divide it in half and roll it out, just like normal.  What I’ve also done in the past is roll the entire ball out into one large circle/oval, piled the filling in the middle, and folded it up around the edges like a rustic crostata (do a Google image search for “rustic crostata” to get the idea.)

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Filling:

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One container of strawberries
About a pound of rhubarb
Zest and juice from half a lemon
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup tapioca  (If you’ve never bought tapioca before, you find it in the baking aisle.  You don’t taste it in the final product but it sucks up the moisture, similar to cornstarch, and prevents the pie from being a liquidy mess.  Strawberries are juicy.)
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Preheat your oven to 425.  Chop up the strawberries and rhubarb into about quarter-inch pieces.  Throw into a large bowl.  Add the lemon juice and zest, the sugars, and the tapioca.  Stir.  (Note:  The sugar will make the rhubarb more palatable, but the pie will still be tart.  If you like your pie a little sweeter, up the white sugar to 1/2 a cup.)
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You should have your crust rolled out by now, so just pile the filling into the bottom crust, and layer the second crust on top.  Make sure to slice some vents for the steam to escape.
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Bake your pie at 425 for 20 minutes, and then lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is nice and golden brown.
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Slice and, most importantly, enjoy!
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