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Monday, May 18, 2009

Get in the Kitchen May '09 - Rhubarb Raspberry Pie

The unthinkable happened: this month's Get in the Kitchen recipe, the top pick of my voters, was a disaster.

Rhubarb Raspberry Pie sounds like a good idea in theory. Or does it? In fact, when I first saw the combo of sour rhubarb and tart raspberries, my mouth puckered involuntarily. But I trusted Gourmet to get the pucker effect under control, so I wasn't too worried.
I started with the pie crust dough, since it was supposed to chill for a couple of hours before being rolled out. I'm not a pie crust goddess (yet); my mother is the real dab hand. Her crusts are always flaky and perfect, while mine are hit or miss. Always better than store-bought, though, so I try to be happy with that and practice a lot. The pie crust dough called for in the Rhubarb Raspberry Pie recipe is "frozen butter pastry dough", which involved grating a stick and half of frozen unsalted butter into a chilled bowl of sifted cake flour, salt, and sugar.

My mom's crust recipe definitely doesn't call for sugar, and uses all-purpose flour and cubed cold butter, so I was interested to see how this turned out. Answer? BAD. Like, pastry dough from hell bad.

More on that later. While the Satan Dough was chilling, I blithely went about preparing the pie filling, which involved boiling chopped rhubarb, cinnamon, and sugar into a chunky syrup thickened even further with corn starch.
Once the rhubarb cooled a little, I folded in the raspberries and some more fresh rhubarb, and chilled the filling.

It was at about this point that all hell broke loose. Because I'm having an extremely bad tech week, my camera battery died even though just minutes before it had shows 2/3 battery life left. So no more photos, sorry! And then, when I took the very chilled dough out of the fridge and tried to roll it, the entire mass glommed to the floured countertop like it was trying to chemically bond to the granite. I had to use a pastry scraper to get it up, at which point it in no way resembled anything that could be used to line a pie plate. I've never seen such a sticky pastry dough--it was more like brioche dough or something. I stood there, dismayed, wondering how on earth I was going to fix this.

A little background--we had friends over who had brought hamburger makings for us to grill on the understanding that we would provide rhubarb pie for dessert. So this wasn't just me and Stinger alone, where I could scrap the whole thing and call it a night. I decided to repurpose the filling and dough into a cobbler, spreading the rhubarb raspberry mixture in a baking pan and dotting the top with globs of pastry dough. Then I brushed the pastry rounds with an egg wash, sprinkled it with sugar, and baked for about forty minutes. The end result was not stellar. It tasted like what it was: boiled, too-tart pie filling with gommy pie crust on top. Our friends had luckily been drinking all night, so they didn't appear to notice. They cleaned their plates! So I was saved from public humiliation and learned a valuable lesson.

When you are already in possession of the best rhubarb pie recipe on the planet, don't go looking for variations and ways to gild the lily. We bought new rhubarb, and I plan to make Mrs. Schroeder's Rhubarb Pie, my family's recipe, to get the taste of that nasty faux cobbler out of my mouth.

I still have no idea if the recipe sucked or if I did, but either way, kitchenFAIL.


1. What is up with you and electronics this week? Poor you!

2. My grandmother made wicked good pastry. She was a firm believer in lard. Just saying.

3. Sucks about the dessert, but sounds like you salvaged it the best way possible.

I've used lard in pie crusts before, and I don't love the flavor it imparts. Butter is tastier, but lard definitely makes it easier to produce a super flaky crust.

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