I’ve always seen rhubarb around the farmer’s markets, heard about strawberry-rhubarb pie, and rhubarb jams. But I never actually got around to trying it, until this weekend. I had bought this ceramic pie dish from Crate+Barrel about a month ago; and it’s been in my cabinet since then. I love pie; I don’t make enough as I’d like. But honestly if I did, instead of spending time with you, I’d have to be running. This rhubarb apple pie finished baking around 11:30PM Saturday night. It’s currently 9:39PM on Sunday and there is one lonely slice left. It’s safe to say that we finished this whole pie within 24 hours. I definitely can’t make a habit out of this. But I did learn one thing – I like rhubarb! Dan does too.
So what does rhubarb actually taste like? Raw, it tastes tart and sour, with a texture that’s just a bit firmer than celery. Cooked (with sugar), it looses its firm texture and develops a milder sweet-tart flavor. While it’s technically a vegetable, it’s treated in cooking as a fruit because of it’s zingy, tart flavor. It’s usually found in sweet dishes, either alone or alongside a type of fruit. For example, strawberry-rhubarb pies and jams or rhubarb-mango compote. Since it complements fruit, it’s most commonly found in pies.
One of my signature desserts is apple pie. I’ll have to you tell you about it; but only when I can afford to finish another whole pie! Anyway, I thought I’d put a spin to this dessert and add in some rhubarb and a crumble topping. There was local rhubarb available on Fresh Direct from Red Jacket Orchards and apples from the Union Square farmer’s market. I consciously made the pie more rhubarb than apple, but adjust the proportions depending on the flavors you like. If you like cherry pies because of their tartness, try rhubarb! If you need a pie crust, refer to the recipe for the one I made a few weeks ago.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl, mix together the rhubarb, apples, 1/2 cup brown sugar, white sugar, 1-1/2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix together the crumb topping of 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, rolled oats, butter and walnuts.
- Pour filling into prepared pie dish and cover evenly with crumble mixture.
- Place pie dish on a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.
For baking, I prefer to use apples that are firmer in texture such as Fuji, Granny Smith, Gala, or Empire. I find that Red and Golden Delicious apples are too mealy for baking.
After the rhubarb apple filling as been sitting for a few minutes, there will be liquid accumulated at the bottom of the bowl. I generally don’t pour this liquid into the pie dish because the filling will itself produce liquid as it bakes.
I usually let pies sit out on the counter for the first night. I prefer day-old pies to fresh-out-of-the-oven pies since the juices produced while baking gets absorbed back into the filling and crust. I think the texture, flavor and filling consistency is better the day after.
Out of ceramic, glass and metal pie dishes, I prefer ceramic because it conducts heat evenly and retains the heat well. This allows the crust to brown nicely without burning. It also bakes the filling evenly. It’s also great for presentation. The downside is that ceramic dishes are heavy and is more expensive than glass and metal. However, I think there is great value in ceramic dishes. If using ceramic, it take a bit longer for the dish to heat up in the oven. You might need to increase the baking time by 10-15 minutes.