Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rhubarb Custard Pie with Pecan Crust

I confess, even though it grows in my garden most of the time I don't like rhubarb. So I was a bit concerned about making an entire pie out of it. However, my fears were unfounded! The pie was really good, and the entire family liked it. The filling was light with a nice lemony taste, and the rhubarb blended nicely with everything else. The sides of the crust got stuck to my pan, which made this not the prettiest pie to serve, but it certainly was a delight to eat! The next time I make this, though, I'll use a deep pie dish: mine left the pie crust taking up most of the space, so I had to alter the filling and had leftover custard. This recipe is the one I modified as opposed to the original.

Making this pie consisted of many 'firsts' for me. I've never made a full-sized pie before. I've never used a food-processor before -- I had to buy one in order to make this! I've never cooked with rhubarb before. I've never made a custard of any kind before. I'd never separated eggs. Because my brother has a peanut allergy, I had to shell the pecans myself, which I've also never done before. A pie of many firsts, indeed!

Ingredients for the crust:
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut unto pieces
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon water

you'll also need:
9-inch pie pan
food processor
pastry brush
wire rack
(optional: egg separator)

1. preheat oven to 400 F. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the pecans until they're finely ground (but you don't want them turning into a paste).
2. add the flour and sugar; process until combined.
3. add the butter, egg yolks, and vanilla; process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan; crimp decoratively around the edges (I did not do this). Prick it all over with the tines of a fork.
5. in a small bowl, mix together the egg white and water. Brush the sides and bottom of the crust with it.
6. bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Ingredients for the filling:
2 overflowing cups of rhubarb, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

you'll also need:
1 large bowl
1 medium bowl
(optional: cookie sheet)

1. preheat oven to 350 F.
2. make the filling: in a large bowl, combine the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest and salt. Spoon the filling into the crust.
3. make the custard: in a medium size bowl, beat together the eggs and egg yolk. mix in the cream and cornstarch. Spoon over the rhubarb mixture.
4. cover the edge of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent over browning, then bake the pie until the custard is firm, 25 to 30 minutes. You can put the pie on a cookie sheet to prevent spillage, if you want.
5. when baked, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve your pie. It may fall come apart a bit, as cookie-crumb crusts so often do, but it will still be lovely.

The pie serves 8 normal-sized pieces, or 4 giant ones.

I got this recipe from Country Living's little book of Pies and Tarts. Except that I had to alter it a little, remember?

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