LAZY CHEF'S RHUBARB PIE
The other night, I went searching for an old photo of gooseberry pie by using the keyword “PIE” on my iPhone’s photo search tool. Exactly 249 images came up of pies or tarts I’d made between 2012 and today—Chocolate Silk Pies and Triple Berry Pies, Apple Tart Tatins and Huckleberry Galettes, Blueberry Lattice Pies and Sour Cream Apple Tarts, Double Crust Cherry Pies and perfectly custardy Pumpkin. Ask me how many times I’ve ever posted a photo of my pies or tarts on instagram, or here, and the answer is probably, once. Why?
As I looked back over the images, I could remember the hours and love I’d poured into every single pie, and the occasion it was made for, even if it was just an afternoon treat for my family and I in our own back yard. I also remembered taking every photo, looking at it later and thinking, that’s not special enough to post. The pie wasn’t pretty enough or the lighting or plates or surface not quite right—or the concept of the pie itself was just too classic or plain. Yet each pie or tart, every single one of them, was absolutely delicious.
I’ve been making pies and tarts all my life, starting at my mother’s side. She taught us to make pecan and apple pies with her famously flaky shorting crusts. I raised her shortening and committed to all butter crusts around the time I went to culinary school. One year, I baked pies by the dozens in in a rented commercial bakery on the days leading up to thanksgiving, drove them in a hired black car to the slick midtown office that help my first glossy magazine job, and sold them for $40 a piece to pay for my plane ticket home.
I know pies.
The thing is, with all the fancy face lifts and high profile PR pies have gotten in the last few years—the triangles and polka dot crusts, the complex crimping, uniquely pattern lattices and dreamy images to exalt them in a pie-a-riffic grid online—I didn’t think there was room for my wholesome classics. I hid them away for my family’s eyes only.
When it comes to pies, I want something delicious, but not pretentious. French pastry temples once held my fascination (and, employed me), but today, fast and unapologetically unfussy are my calling card. Take a rhubarb galette: It doesn’t pretend to be anything special at all, except, it really is. It can be made on the fly with that extra disk of pie dough you tucked away, or tossed together to be baked into the billowy folds and flakes of pre-made puff pastry (but, hunt for the good stuff. I like Dufours). Either way, time and technique are on your side—you need very little of either to make something truly, remarkably delicious. And I suggest you should, whatever kind of baker you fancy yourself.
So, what to do with those 249 photos of pie taking up space in my cloud? My current thinking: delete them all, if only to remind myself that for some people, pie is art—but for me, pie is a quiet pleasure, to be enjoyed to the fullest even (or perhaps especially) without fanfare.
So, now that the pressure’s off—here’s to a unremarkably beautiful and remarkably delicious in your own oven. xx
LAZY CHEF’S RHUBARB PIE
…Called such, since it’s not a pie at all, but the simplest of galettes that absolutely anyone can make.
1 SHEET PUFF PASTRY, THAWED (PREFERABLY DUFOURS)
1 EGG, LIGHTLY BEATEN
3 TO 4 TBSP PLAIN (UNSEASONED) BREAD CRUMBS
4 TO 6 FAT STALKS RHUBARB, TRIMMED
6 TABLESPOONS MAPLE SYRUP
2 TBSP BUTTER, IN PIECES
GENEROUS PINCH (ABOUT 1/4 TSP) FINE SEA SALT
2 TO 4 TBSP TURBINADO SUGAR, FOR DUSTING
MAKE SURE YOUR PUFF PASTRY IS PERFECTLY DEFROSTED—WITH NO COLD BITS OR STIFFNESS. UNROLL ONTO A BAKING SHEET LINED WITH A SILICON BAKING MAT (OR PARCHMENT). IF IT’S NOT ROUND, TRIM THE EDGES TO MAKE A CIRCLE—IMPERFECT IS FINE.
BRUSH THE PASTRY WITH EGG BEATEN EGG, LEAVING SOME FOR THE FINISH. PRICK OFF OVER WITH A FORK, AND SPRINKLE THE CENTER 2/3 WITH BREAD CRUMBS, LEAVING A 2-INCH EDGE. CUT THE RHUBARB ON THE BIAS INTO LONGISH STALKS (ABOUT 3 INCHES EACH), AND TOSS WITH THE MAPLE SYRUP IN A LARGE BOWL, USING A BIT MORE IF YOU LIKE A SWEETER PIE (WE LIKE OURS A BIT TART, SINCE WE TOP IT WITH ICE CREAM).
PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 425 DEGREES F.
LAY THE RHUBARB OUT OVER THE BREAD CRUMBS IN ANY PATTERN, LEAVING THE SAME 2-INCH EDGE, AND DRIZZLING OVER ANY REMAINING MAPLE SYRUP FROM THE BOWL. FOLD UP THE EDGES, PINCHING OVER ITSELF TO MAKE A NICE ROUNDISH SHAPE. BRUSH THE DOUGH EVENLY WITH EGG WASH, AND DOT THE RHUBARB WITH THE BUTTER. SPRINKLE THE ENTIRE PIE, EDGES AND ALL, WITH TURBINADO SUGAR (MORE IF YOU LIKE A SWEETER PIE, LESS IF SUBTLY SWEET IS YOUR GOAL).
BAKE ON THE LOWEST SHELF UNTIL THE RHUBARB IS UNIFORMLY SOFT AND THE PASTRY IS GOLDEN BROWN AND CRISP ALL OVER, WITH NO SOFT (OR WET-LOOKING) SPOTS), ABOUT 25 TO 30 MINUTES.
SERVE WARM, WITH VANILLA, GINGER OR BUTTER PECAN ICE CREAM.
SERVES 4 to 6
**This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.** images belong to Sarah Copeland, and should not be pinned or posted without attribution. **