Rhubarb Pie, three classic recipes.

Rhubarb Pie
Rhubarb was originally used for medicinal purposes in traditional Chinese medicine over 2000 years ago. The rhubarb plant was native to the Chinese/Tibetan region and brought to Europe in the 18th century, where, as well as being used for its medicinal properties, it was used in cooking, essentially pies and tarts.

Rhubarb is actually a vegetable, which has a tangy and sharp taste, but is used in sweet dishes as a fruit and is accompanied by a large quantity of sugar to sweeten it up.
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When combined with sweet tasting fruits such as strawberries, apples or oranges, the flavour of the rhubarb is enhanced but also softened, giving a delicious combination of sweet and sharp that fully compliment each other.

In the UK, classic favourites include rhubarb crumble or just plain rhubarb served with custard, whilst in the US rhubarb pie is immensely popular in some regions, as is rhubarb and strawberry pie in others.

Rhubarb and strawberry pie is usually made during the month of May when the last batches of rhubarb are harvested and prepared with the first season of strawberries for the year.

Rhubarb pie is very simple and quick to make. It is just a matter of preparing the pastry, allowing the fruit to stand and absorb the flavour of the additional ingredients and then baking it in the oven.

Some versions of rhubarb pie are made with a crumble topping rather than a full pastry lid. For those who can't decide between rhubarb pie or rhubarb crumble, this would be the perfect choice.

When preparing the rhubarb, firstly the leaves should be removed as they are poisonous and must not be consumed under any circumstances. Then, cut off the root, wash the rhubarb and coarsely chop into chunks with a sharp knife. If there is any tough or stringy skin, this should also be removed by peeling it off with a potato peeler or a knife.

Rhubarb pie may be served with ice cream, custard or cream and should definitely be eaten warm.

Below are several recipes for rhubarb pie that you shouldn't have too much trouble with in the kitchen.

Rhubarb Pie

Ingredients
  • 9 inch pastry case made from shortcrust pastry
  • For the filling
    • 4 cups of sliced rhubarb
    • 1 cup of caster sugar
    • 4 tbsp of plain flour
    • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
    • 1 tsp of salt
    • ½ tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • For the crumble topping
    • 1 cup of plain flour
    • ½ cup of caster sugar
    • ¼ cup of butter
    • pinch of salt
Method
  1. Prepare the pastry first and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before needed.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb, sugar, flour, vanilla essence, salt and lemon juice. Leave to stand for about 20 minutes.
  4. Roll out the pastry and line a 9 inch pastry case with the shortcrust pastry base.
  5. Fill the pastry case with the rhubarb filling and then bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, prepare the crumble topping by placing all of the crumble ingredients into a mixing bowl and rubbing the fat into the sugar and flour with your fingertips so that they resemble breadcrumbs.
  7. Remove the pie from the oven after 30 minutes, sprinkle with the crumble mixture and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the crumble has browned.
  8. Allow to cool before serving.
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Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie

Ingredients
  • Shortcrust pastry for a two-crust 9 inch pie tin
  • 3 cups of prepared rhubarb
  • 1 cup of sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp of tapioca or semolina
  • 1 tsp of grated orange rind
  • ¼ tsp of salt
Method
  1. Prepare the pastry in advance, divide into two portions, roll out the larger portion and line a 9 inch round pie tin.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
  3. Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca/semolina, orange rind and salt all together in a bowl and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
  4. Fill the pastry tin with the rhubarb and strawberry filling, making sure to pile up the mixture in the centre of the pie.
  5. Roll out the second piece of pastry and use to cover the top of the pie dish. Seal the edges and trim off any excess pastry. Decorate the top with shapes cut out from the leftover pastry if you wish and make two slits in the pastry top for the steam to escape.
  6. Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350°F/175°C and bake for a further 30 - 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown in colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature, which will allow the fruit juices to thicken.

Rhubarb and Apple Pie

Ingredients
  • Shortcrust pastry for a two-pie crust made with 12 oz (340 g) of plain flour and 6 oz (170 g) of butter.
  • 1 bunch of rhubarb, washed and sliced
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 5 oz (140 g) of muscovado sugar
  • To glaze
    • 1 lightly beaten egg
Method
  1. Prepare the shortcrust pastry and chill in the refrigerator.
  2. Mix together the rhubarb, apples and sugar in a mixing bowl and set aside for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
  4. Line the bottom of the pie dish with pastry.
  5. Fill the pie tin with the rhubarb and apple filling, piling the filling high in the centre of the dish.
  6. Trim the excess pastry from the sides and brush the edge with water. Roll out the second piece of pastry and lay over the top of the dish. Press the two edges down firmly to seal the filling in and trim the excess. Cut two slits or holes in the top of the pastry cover.
  7. Brush the pastry top with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  8. Reduce the heat to 375°F/180°C and continue to cook for a further 30 - 35 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool and serve warm with custard, cream or ice cream.



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