RecipeBeta: Rhubarb Cranberry Pie (and a video to help you make that crust pretty). - Something Edible
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RecipeBeta: Rhubarb Cranberry Pie (and a video to help you make that crust pretty).

RecipeBeta: Rhubarb Cranberry Pie (and a video to help you make that crust pretty).

Abstract: Beta recipes are my own experiments that I've only tried once. Usually palatable, they often could be better with a little tweaking - So please do, and let me know what works!

To finish off the season's first cutting of my garden-grown rhubarb, I decided to bake a pie. To get that trademark red color that people have come to expect in a rhubarb pie, we've eschewed the artificial and are rolling with a homemade cranberry sauce that plays the perfect accompanying flavor role and gives more structure to the pie. As this is a bit of an experimental recipe, we're also testing new methods of content delivery with a little video to demonstrate the method to weave a lattice top crust.

Purpose: After that batch of bran muffins that excelled in mediocrity, I owed it to myself to do so something else that could really showcase the tart, tangy goodness of rhubarb. As we've already attempted something with rhubarb that errs on the side of health-conscious, it's time to succumb to our appetites and make a pie. While my initial thought was to fill a nine-inch shell with rhubarb and rhubarb alone, my home-grown rhubarb wasn't really all that red; so it certainly wasn't going to hurt to give folks what they want in the presentation department and add a little color. All the same, I didn't wanna tint my filling simply for color's sake; and building a little flavor complexity never hurt things either. And while strawberries are an oft-used choice, their ability to paint a pie red pales in comparison to the anthocyanin-packed goodness of a cranberry. I also figured that a cranberry could work to reinforce those tart, sour and fruity notes one expects from rhubarb without overwhelming if used judiciously. What's more, we already know that cranberries are chock-full of pectins; and it was my bet that if rendered properly that cranberries could also lend themselves to improve the constitution of the filling as well. I decided to use my "semi-famous" cranberry sauce as a jumping-off point, and contained it all in a homemade nine-inch lattice topped shell.  It's time to make pie.

Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -

The Pie Crust

  • 12 oz all-purpose flour (about 2 1/3 cups)
  • 4 oz butter That's one stick; frozen and cut / spooned out into tablespoon-sized chunks.
  • 4 oz vegetable shortening Cut / spooned out into tablespoon-sized chunks.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 4 fluid oz water (You likely won't use it all.)
  • The Cranberry Sauce

  • 4 fluid oz blush-style wine
  • 4 oz cranberries (Fresh or frozen; that's about a cup.)
  • 2 1/2 oz sugar (around 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • The Rhubarb

  • 20 oz rhubarb Sliced 1/4 inch thick pieces (Somewhere around 5-6 cups sliced.)
  • 7 oz sugar (about a cup)
  • 3 Tbsps corn starch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • For the crust - (and you'll start this the day before), add the flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Divvy up the butter and shortening and add it to the food processor bowl. Briefly pulse 10-12 times or until the largest particles of fat are the size of a pea. Add the honey and 1 oz of water. Give the mess 5 solid pulses and then add the additional water by the ounce followed by 5 pulses until dough comes together (It'll be damn near instant). It usually takes 3 of the 4 ounces of water.

    Divide the dough into 2 portions, roll to 1/2 inch thick discs, wrap with plastic and pop into the freezer for an hour. After the rest in the freezer, unwrap the dough discs to a lightly floured surface, and roll each down to a 1/4 inch thickness. Fold in quarters, and roll back to a 1/2 inch thickness. Re-wrap each disc of dough with plastic and refrigerate overnight before using.

    To start the pie proper- toss the rhubarb with the sugar, corn starch, salt and cinnamon. Set aside and get to work on the sauce.
    Start the cranberry sauce by combining all the respective sauce ingredients into a small saucepan. Starting from a cold burner, cook over medium heat for 15 minutes and then hit the sauce with a sitck blender just enough to break all the berries. Stir the hot cranberry sauce into the rhubarb and let sit while getting the prepared crust ready for a nine inch pie pan. Preheat the oven to 375F. Fill the bottom and then top in a lattice to help evaporate excess liquid.
    When it's time to bake, put the pie pan on a half sheet pan and bake for 55 minutes. You'll want to cover the edge of the crust with foil for the first 35 minutes and then finish the last 20 sans-foil. Cool completely (about 5 hours) before slicing.


    • Not only does a lattice top crust look pretty, but in this instance it also allows any additional moisture to vent, as we don't need the additional steam cooking performed by a closed-top pie. If you've never done a lattice, please allow me and my peanut gallery to demonstrate:

    • A few years ago, I read Michael Ruhlman's Ratio cover to cover. This was the book that empowered me where pie crust was concerned, and I've been making my own ever since. Whereas most of the time I prefer the flakiness and flavor of a 100% butter recipe, I wanted to trade half that fat for shortening this time around to make for a less-fussy execution.
    • I can't / won't make pie crust outside of a food processor. I can be in and out of the dishes generated by using a counter-top appliance in less time than it would take me to bring together a crust by hand.  You're not allowed to judge if you buy pre-made crust :-p.
    • Resting is a very important component to a good crust. Those starch granules need to be hydrated, and a rest in the fridge ensures that.
    • I like to hedge my bets where the flakiness of a pie crust is concerned, so I always fold the rolled out dough into quarters before rolling out to place in the pie pan (I wouldn't do this more than once; I have, and the gluten gets out of control).
    • I always bake my pies on a sheet pan (that's a pie pan on a sheet pan, duh). It's just easier to move a pie in and out of the oven, and it's also much easier to clean a sheet pan than it is the bottom of my oven.
    • Depending on how air actually moves in your hot box, you may need to keep that foil ring around the edge of the crust even longer. If the browning starts to get away from you, don't be afraid to put the foil back on either.
    • I'd let this cool completely before slicing. We're talking at least 5 hours here. The starches and pectins will set, and even pulling that first piece out of the pan won't be disastrous.

    Results: This slice of rhubarb redemption is everything I hoped it would be. The cranberry not only adds a vibrant color to the pie, but it allows the rhubarb's complex flavor to shine; and short of picking thru the pie, I bet most people wouldn't notice there was cranberry in there unless you told 'em. What's more, we get to use the pectin power of the cranberry to assist in setting this pie, which really lends itself to giving the filling a smooth, jam-like texture that never gets runny or "leaks", even if you do manage to have leftovers on your counter after the second day.

    If you're looking for a friend for a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, it doesn't get much better than this.

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