Monday, May 9, 2011


In honor of Mother's Day I made a Rhubarb Cream Pie with Meringue Topping.  I chose to make this pie  on Mother's Day because it was the most delicious pie my grandmother has ever made, and if it wasn't for grandmothers, we wouldn't be here.  It also makes me think of my mother at the same time because she can eat an entire pie herself, and I'm not joking. She may not be able to finish it in one sitting, but she can put quite the dent in that pie, or any pie for that matter, in just one day.  This is a great example of where I get my eating habits, except my mother doesn't gain weight. I do.

I honestly think that this pie is by far the best thing my grandma makes. Others may disagree with me, but I've always loved it and I would chose even the tiniest piece of this over any dessert offered to me.  It's not everyday I get to have a well made meringue, so it's a real treat when it's served to me.  It amazes me how 4 egg whites and some sugar can turn into a big, white mountain of fluffy deliciousness.  One of the reasons I think I'm so obsessed with this pie is because I've never recreated it for myself before. I don't just make it whenever I feel a craving for it. I have always been afraid of the meringue. Honestly, it's my most feared baking project. MERINGUE (enter dramatic music of your liking here). According to my grandma, who I had to call twice yesterday about this process, it takes time and practice to get the perfect meringue. She said I probably wouldn't get it right away, but if I keep practicing I'll get it just right. Easy for her to say! She's almost 92 and has every baking technique down but she apparently thinks I'm doing great, so I guess I better trust her.

Grandma says to never make meringue in humid weather or it will drop. ummm, ok? Drop?? What does that even mean?! Also, what do 'soft peaks' and 'hard peaks' look like?  When directions say to add a pinch of something or a dash of that, it makes me one irritated girl.  What if I had giant troll fingers and my pinch of something was a tablespoons worth?? I bet that wouldn't work out very well. I'll get over using exact measurements one day, but while I'm still learning it's easiest to be precise, in my case at least.

For this pie I finally found the most beautiful stalks of fresh rhubarb!! It's all thanks to a reader who commented on my last blog, I was able to easily find them at the Seward Co-op. Thanks for the tip!  When I told my grandmother how much a pound of rhubarb cost me, I bet she almost fell off her chair. However, she did hysterically laugh at me and was probably thinking I was the biggest sucker alive. Completely worth it. 

Rhubarb Cream Pie

Pie Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 to 8 Tbsp ice water

1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and pulse again.

2. Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Gently shape into 2 discs. Knead the dough just enough to form the discs, do not over-knead. You should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These small chunks of butter are what will allow the resulting crust to be flaky. Sprinkle a little flour around the discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.

3. Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. If necessary, add a few sprinkles of flour under the dough to keep the dough from sticking. Carefully place onto a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press the pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pie dish.

*This recipe makes two 9-inch crusts. With the Rhubarb Cream Pie you only need one of them so you can save the other crust for a different pie!!

Rhubarb Cream:
2 cups diced rhubarb
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup sweet cream or ice cream (yes, vanilla ice cream)

Beat egg yolks. Add cream. Mix salt, sugar and flour together.  Add to egg mixture and pour over rhubarb.  Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes; 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Top with meringue and bake for 30 minutes more at 300 degrees.

Beat: 4 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of cream of tartar

Beat these until soft peaks form.
Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp cornstarch. Beat until stiff peaks.  Add 1 tsp vanilla.

Good luck with this step.  Seriously. I was way to impatient, mainly because I wasn't really sure what was happening.  Next time I need to calm down and realize that it's going to take a while for this process to work.

So, in the end it didn't really look and taste exactly the same as grandma's, but like she said, hopefully I'll only get better with time and practice. If you have any tips on meringue please leave a comment or email me. I need help! Happy Baking!!!

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