I knew strawberries were already on sale, so I made a detour on the way home, drug all the kids into the grocery store with me, and purchased a flat of strawberries. (It only cost me a couple of rides for the kids on the free mechanical clown car at the front of the store – well worth my time – for myriad reasons.)
I grew up with rhubarb pie from the plant that grew almost in the wilds of our mountain home. My mom made a traditional Crisco pie that was all rhubarb and sugar.
To this day, I believe my mom’s rhubarb pie is my brother’s favorite. Always a sweet tooth, I have grown to prefer the addition of strawberries, to cut the bite of the rhubarb and because they’re pretty.
I combine a couple of recipes to make my favorite strawberry-rhubarb tart. First, I treat the rhubarb like the vegetable that it is and saute it in a pan to soften the stalks and remove some of the liquid that can make for a very soggy pie.
Then I set out to make a “country” pie dough. I am still working on the perfect butter pie dough for a double crust pie that has all the taste, flake and elasticity that perfection requires. Sadly, it still eludes me.
This corn meal studded dough, however, is always a winner. It’s an easy butter dough for making open-faced tarts, or galettes. You simply roll the dough out over parchment paper, load the fruit filling on top, and fold 2 inch edges over the filling.
Here’s the finished product. Six tarts total, all consumed by family and friends mere minutes after the end of the dinner hour that night (with a little help from vanilla ice cream). (:
Corn Meal Pie Crust
(from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
¼ to ½ cup ice water
1. Place the flour, cornmeal, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds.
2. With the machine running, pour the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, until the dough just holds together (do not process for more than 30 seconds).
3. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in halves or thirds and place each portion on a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten each to form a disk. Wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 1 day before using. Makes enough for 1 large, 2 medium or 3 small galettes/open faced tarts.
Strawberry Rhubarb Open Faced Tarts
(adapted from Baking Illustrated)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds rhubarb, ends trimmed, peeled if the outer layer is especially fibrous, and cut into 1-inch pieces (5 to 6 cups)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 recipe Corn Meal Pie Crust + flour for dusting the work surface
3 tablespoons arrowroot
1 ½ pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 5 cups)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated zest from 1 orange
1 egg, lightly beaten + granulated sugar for sprinkling
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the rhubarb and ¼ cup of the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb has shed most of its liquid but is still firm, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large dish and refrigerate until cool. Drain off excess liquid.
2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. In a small bowl, mix together ¼ cup of the sugar, the arrowroot and salt. In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, cooled rhubarb, vanilla and orange zest. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top and stir to combine.
4. Lay out a large piece of parchment paper over a flat work surface and dust with flour. Remove the Corn Meal Pie Crust from the refrigerator and roll out 1/3 of the dough into a 1/3 inch disk.
5. Spoon approximately 1/3 of the filling onto the pie crust, leaving a 2 inch border all the way around. Fold border over the filling, overlapping where necessary and pressing gently to adhere the folds. Repeat for 3 galettes/tarts.
6. Brush edges of dough with egg, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 1 hour. Transfer the galettes/tarts to a baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.