28 May 2013

Five-dollar rhubarb pie

I'm always excited when rhubarb starts showing up at the supermarket and farmers markets. I have a very fond memory of my grandma going out to her front stoop, hacking some leaves off a weedy-looking plant, going into the kitchen, and re-emerging a couple of hours later with a pie in her hands. I don't know where she got the recipe -- to tell the truth, she got most of her recipes out of the newspaper or Chatelaine -- but it's a highlight of my year to make a Mothers Day rhubarb pie for myself or to bring one to a Memorial Day picnic.

It's even better when I'm patient. When rhubarb first showed up at our farmers market this year, it was priced at an insulting $6.00/lb. Insulting because rhubarb, once established, grows like crazy, returns every year (and in fact prefers a good, hard freezing every winter), and doesn't require a terribly gentle hand to harvest and ship. Don't get me wrong: I want my farmer to get a fair price for what they take the trouble to bring me every weekend. But I'd also appreciate being charged a fair price for what I want to bring home. So I waited two weeks, and this time it was $4.50/lb. Still not ideal, but enough to make a pie for about $5.00.


  • 1 9-inch pie crust (a half recipe of Flaky Pastry Dough from the 1997 Joy of Cooking works well here)
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs, separated, yolks beaten and whites set aside
  • 3 cups (about 1 pound) chopped rhubarb


    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch pie tin or plate (not a deep-dish pie pan). Sift together the sugar, flour, and salt. Rub in the butter. Mix in the beaten egg yolks. Combine with the chopped rhubarb and fill the pie crust.

    Bake 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake 35-40 minutes. Prepare a French meringue with the egg whites and about 2 tablespoons sugar (omitting cream of tartar); top the pie and bake until meringue is browned, about 5 minutes.

    Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
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