By Angela Denstad Stigeler
If we made a chart of summer pies, most fillings would either be all sweet, like peach and blueberry, or all tart like sour cherry and lemon meringue. But the strawberry-rhubarb pie relies on a perfect balance of extremes, cleverly making use of two seasonal flavors. Even more industrious than making good when life gives you lemons, the strawberry-rhubarb pairing reminds us that, even when you seem to have a sour patch, something sweet usually springs up, too. And, in fact, that sweetness is heightened and perhaps better appreciated for having its counterweight alongside it. So, with a bit of sweet, a bit of sour, a strawberry-rhubarb pie is a real slice of summer. This one tops the charts.
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
½ cup ice water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds rhubarb, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths (5-6 cups)
1-1 ½ cups sugar
1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered
3-4 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 egg white, lightly beaten
To make the pastry dough, mix together the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor or large bowl. Cut in the butter with quick pulses of the food processor or two knives. Add the ice water and process for 15 seconds; don’t let it form a ball. Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap and press it together. Form it into two rounds, cover and refrigerate until needed.
Meanwhile, set a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet, 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. Let cool.
Roll out one of the pastry discs and fit it into a 9-inch pie plate. Toss the strawberries with the cooled rhubarb, the arrowroot and ¾-1 cup sugar. Spread the fruit into the unbaked pie crust, then roll out the other crust and place it on top, sealing and crimping the edges. Brush the crust with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the baking pan and reduce the oven temperature to 375 and bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is a deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature before serving.
*Arrowroot is a plant-derived thickener that can usually be found in the spice isle. Cornstarch can be substituted, but the filling will appear cloudier than with arrowroot.