Despite being of the appropriate faith, our family doesn't really have Christmas traditions. We have never had an expectation of Christmas-specific gifts, decorate the house or sit down for a traditional meal. I sometimes give away Christmas cookies but that's about as far as my gift-giving goes. I think on an individual level, all of us a somewhat opposed to the commercialisation of Christmas and make a point of not acknowledging it. It's not that we don't give each other gifts at other times, there's just something about gaudy red and green wrapping paper that mildly repels us.
We do enjoy the Christmas break and often, it is a time for carefully prepared meals eaten at a languid pace, and for personal projects that have been neglected throughout the year. Although it isn't quite the holidays yet, I have felt the holiday spirit a little bit. It sneaked up on me and gave me the motivation to make rhubarb pie, a project that I had been attempting and doing poorly on for years.
When we pass rhubarb at the supermarket, my dad often talks about his memories of studying in England, where rhubarb pie became a favourite of his. I have tried to make it several times in the past, but it has never been objectively good. I can think of at least four disappointing pies in my past that were too soggy, too sour, intriguingly dry or otherwise unsatisfactory.
This time around, with a fresh perspective and a much improved pastry-making game, I made another attempt using a crust recipe from Serious Eats and an almost embarrassingly easy filling recipe from allrecipes.com. Without even a single specialty ingredient, I was finally successful in baking the dream rhubarb pie. Perfectly flaky pastry that was easy to handle and caramelised top and bottom, and filling that was set but still luscious and bursting with pure rhubarb flavour.
The pie sliced neatly, it was so good that each bite was a pleasant surprise, and I am kicking myself for not packing myself a slice for lunch. And based on my dad's reaction, I consider the rhubarb pie goal achieved.
And finally, a picture of all 5 of the chickens to brighten up your morning.
|All 5 chickens checking out some parsley|
Best-ever rhubarb pie
makes 1 double crust pie
pastry from Serious Eats
filling and baking method slightly adapted from allrecipes.com
Pastry (The pastry needs to be chilled for 2hrs prior to baking so take this into account)
1 1/2c plain flour
280g cold butter, cut into small cubes
6Tb ice water
4c of chopped rhubarb
1 1/3c sugar
6Tb plain flour
extra sugar for sprinkling
1. Combine 1c of flour with salt and sugar in the food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is fully incorporated into the flour.
2. Add the remaining flour and pulse again to get a crumbly dough.
3. Transfer the dough into a bowl, sprinkle with water and fold the mixture to incorporate the water throughout.
4. Divide the dough into two equal disc-shaped portions, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 2 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius and move an oven rack into the lowest position. Combine the sugar and flour for the filling in a small bowl.
6. Roll the discs out until it is a circle that is about 3-4cm bigger than your pie tin. Rolling the dough out on two pieces of baking paper or silicone mats makes transferring easier - just remove one of the pieces of paper, wrap the dough around your rolling pin and unroll it on top of your tin.
6. Fit the bottom crust into the pie tin, sprinkle over about 1/4 of the sugar/flour mixture, followed by the rhubarb. Cover with remaining sugar/flour.
7. Top with the second lot of pastry and seal the edges by crimping or pressing with a fork. Cut some vents in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.
8. Whisk the egg with 1Tb of water and brush this over the top of the pie, followed by a sprinkle of sugar.
9. Bake the pie for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 175 degrees Celsius and bake for another 35-40 minutes. You may need to cover the edges of the pie with a ring of tinfoil to prevent over-browning.
10. Cool on a baking rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting.