On this beautiful June morning, my husband walked into the kitchen carrying a bowl of luscious, ripe, juicy, just picked strawberries from our garden.
Those strawberries are very precious to us, as we had to compete with every robin in our yard over them. The robins were winning until we went to the local hardware store and bought netting to cover the berries. Sorry robins, but you have all the bright salmon berries to feed your babies!
My husband was also carrying a large armful of freshly picked rhubarb. Do you think he was possibly trying to give me a hint?
Isn’t it wonderful that both rhubarb and strawberries mature at roughly the same time each year? When combined in a recipe, their flavours create the perfect balance of tart and sweet. And I love the old-fashioned, homey feel I get whenever I bake with them.
I can’t say that I was always a fan of custard. When I was a young girl, my sister and I stayed at an older relative’s house for a few days one summer. I can’t even remember why now, but I do remember that Myrtle was an excellent baker. Her freshly baked white bread was a real treat, as well as her homemade sugarcoated donuts, which had just a hint of nutmeg. The one thing I did not like (and, apparently, neither did my sister) was Myrtle’s custard.
It was probably just a “kid” thing, and no doubt the custard was delicious. But there was something about the egg and milk combo that did not appeal to us. Knowing there was no way to get out of eating the dessert, we politely excused ourselves from the table and asked if we could eat the custard in her sun porch, where it was nice and cool. Poor Myrtle had no idea of our ulterior motive. Sneaking out the screened porch door, we dumped the custard into some tall grass near the house. I am sure it was my older sister’s idea! We were feeling smug that we had outwitted dear old Myrtle, until the next morning when Myrtle’s husband decided to mow the lawn. We were horrified as we watched the lawnmower pass over THE spot. Not long after, Myrtle’s husband entered the kitchen for a cool glass of water. Turning around, he gave my sister and I a wink and a smile. We knew then that our secret was safe with him. Cohorts in crime!
I have made many rhubarb-strawberry pies because they are my favourite, but none of them has ever contained custard. When I saw this recipe in a Fine Cooking magazine, I knew I wanted to give it a try. The recipe was for rhubarb custard pie, but I decided I just had to add strawberries. In the meantime, I had to wait patiently until the rhubarb and strawberries in our garden were ready. My rhubarb has been slow to mature this year, so it wasn’t until today that it was ready to be cut. Perfect timing with the strawberries!
While making the pie, I was a little uneasy that I might not like the custard with it. Something about bad memories…well, let me tell you, it’s absolutely delicious! Tart rhubarb with sweet, juicy strawberries and creamy, dense custard, all encased in a super flaky piecrust. My piecrust recipe makes one 9-inch double-crust or two 9-inch single-crust pies, so if you are only making one pie, roll out the remaining dough and freeze it like I did.
This delicious pie is very easy to make, but you will need to start ahead if you make this recipe, because once the rhubarb is cut up, it is mixed with sugar and then it sits in a strainer for 45 minutes to 1 hour so that the juice will be released. Don’t throw the juice out though; you need it for the pie.
This is a pie I could imagine one of my grandmother’s making for her family in the spring. Sadly, I never knew either of my grandmothers as both had passed away before I was born, but I am sure they would have enjoyed a slice of this old time pie!
- For the Crust click here.
- 3 cups ½ inch pieces of rhubarb
- 1 cup thickly sliced strawberries
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- One hour before:
- Toss the cut rhubarb with 1 cup of the sugar, then pile it into a strainer or colander set over a bowl to catch the juice. (save the juice)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Spread the macerated rhubarb and the strawberries over the pastry in a 9 inch pie pan. Mix the eggs, the remaining ½ cup sugar, the cream, vanilla, flour, butter, salt, and the collected rhubarb juices and pour the mixture over the fruit in the pastry.
- Bake the pie for ten minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees F.
- Continue baking until the custard is set and the crust is golden brown, another 45-50 minutes.
- Let the pie cool before slicing and serving.