Wednesday, May 21, 2014

rhubarb-custard pie.

I am going to apologize now for both the present and future number of rhubarb recipes that have and will appear on this little blog.  It's not that I am obsessed with rhubarb (I am only slightly obsessed) it's just that after a long (very long and very cold) winter I am craving anything and everything bright and tart and fresh (and the fact that they are the most beautiful ruby pink color doesn't hurt). This is why I've already made 2 pounds of rhubarb jam, 1 batch of rye-rhubarb bars, and now this pie which is my latest obsession. (There are also plans for a rhubarb upside-down cake to be made this weekend so maybe it is safe to say that I am a woman obsessed.) 

This pie.  This pie makes me feel as if I have I have transported myself to the Midwest where things like rhubarb-custard pie are the norm and the people baking them always wear checkered aprons (instead of flour stained boxer shorts).  It's a pie that is pure comfort food. The kind of thing I imagine I would serve to the boy after a long day spent outside building me my dream wood-fired pizza oven (I have pizza ovens on the brain).  It begs to be eaten outdoors by the fading light of the day.  

Rhubarb-Custard Pie

Recipe tweaked from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book 

I bought this back during the dark days of winter when I needed a little pick me up and a reminder that soon fresh produce will return.  This book is superb and it's safe to say this is going to be the summer of pie.  I adore this recipe for the simple fact that the crust is an oatmeal crust which means no rolling pins involved. (!!) Layered above the crust is the most phenomenal rhubarb compote with a color that kills me (it's the perfect pink/red shade that only nature can create). And above that? A tangy custard that brings the whole thing together. Tyler said the pie reminded him of a lemon meringue pie with the flavors and layers and I agree with that sentiment though I think this is better.  

Slicing this pie is the best part since it that is when it reveals it's gorgeous inside. (All those pretty layers!). You've been warned.    

Oat crumble crust for a 9 inch pie, pre-baked (recipe below)
1 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Place the prebaked pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet. 

In a medium saucepan, combine the rhubarb, 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb is cooked down into a thick sauce.  Set aside to cool while preparing the custard.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, heavy and sour cream, nutmeg, and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.  Stir in the eggs one at a time and mix well.  

Spread the rhubarb evenly oven the crust.  Pour the custard over the rhubarb.  Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30-35 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, about 15 minutes through baking.  The pie is finished with the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid but still quite wobbly.  Be careful not to overbake as the custard can can curdle and separate; the filling will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours.  Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or cool.  

The pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days or at room temperature for  1 day.  

Oat Crumble Crust

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup all-purpose or rye flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, at room temperature

Stir together all ingredients except butter into a large bowl.  Sprinkle in the butter pieces and toss to coat. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is chunky but not homogeneous.  

Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased, preferably metal 9-inch pie pan.  Freeze until solid about 15 minutes.  Meawhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake on the middle oven rack for about 18-20 minutes.  If the crust slumps or cracks while baking, gently push the crumbs back into place, while hot, with a clean folded kitchen towel or piece of parchment.  Cool completely before filling.  

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