How absolutely adorable is the pretty pink colour of rhubarb this time of year. Grown in England’s very own curious triangle of the North - the ‘rhubarb triangle’ (where during the months of January to March farmers live in a candle lit world full of bright pink, tasty rhubarb), it’s lovely pink colour and sweet flavour is too tempting not to cook with in the early months of year. It’s especially enticing to me as my own little plant at the bottom of the garden is proving somewhat fruitless, even during the summer months when other gardener’s rhubarb is implementing a Day of the Triffids style attack on their vegetable beds. Fortunately, my grandparents still grow rhubarb faster than Jack’s beanstalk so that usually satisfies my summer supply.
And have you heard it’s ‘British Pie Week’ this week? It seems at the moment that every flipping day has to have a theme or an appreciation or some completely weird holiday that no one has ever heard of and no one ever celebrates. Can I be frank… I actually find it all rather irritating. International Womens Day, now there is one that I can really understannd and feel supportive towards but today for example is apparently Registered Dietitian Day, Crabmeat Day and False Teeth Day, amongst others. What a load of old chaff. Usually I won’t entertain these ‘special days’ as I feel like it’s largely a bad marketing device to give companies something to tweet about when they don’t really know what tweet about. I don't even really like tweeting anyway.
I’ve been eyeing up the pretty pink rhubarb for some weeks now, toing and froing between what to use it for, and on Monday my extremely-smartphone notified me that #britishpieweek was trending on twitter. And I thought ‘Well, if it really, truly, actually is British Pie week then what better vessel for the beautiful pink stems than a homemade sweet pastry case?’ And who am I to scoff at the mighty British Pie by ignoring it’s celebratory week. So thank you twitter for the inspiration - here's a lovely new pie recipe.
Rhubarb, Strawberry and Orange Blossom Pie with Sweet Rosemary Pastry
I used the Cottage Flower pie dish for this which is the perfect size and shape at 5cms high and 25cms wide.
For the Pie Crust
•375g plain flour (plus extra for dusting) •2tbsp golden castor sugar •½ tsp salt •1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves •200g cold unsalted butter cut into cubes •5 tbsp. ice cold water •2 eggs (save one for the glaze at the end)
In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, salt and rosemary, then add the butter and mix with either with your hands or a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Mix in the water and egg until it just comes together. If it’s a little dry you can add a little more water. Divide into two balls – 1/3 and 2/3 and wrap each one in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour, longer if you like.
For The Filling
First just pop your oven on to 200˚C/180 fan/400˚F
•300g hulled strawberries – cut in half if they are particularly large ones •500g lovely pink forced rhubarb sliced to one cm chunks (or regular rhubarb if it’s later in the season - if they are quite thick stalks then slice down the middle before chopping) •1/2 tbsp. orange blossom water •½ tsp fresh ground cardamom seeds •¼ tsp vanilla powder •200g golden castor sugar •1 tbsp. corn-starch •3 tbsp. plain flour
Put your strawberries and rhubarb in a bowl with the orange blossom water and give them a gentle but thorough mix together. Measure our all the other ingredients together into another small bowl and sprinkle over the fruit, giving it all one last mix to coat well.
Now you can take out your rested pastry. Roll the bigger ball out on a floured surface to fit your pie dish – don’t trim the overhang. To make the lattice topping you will need to roll out the other third out and cut it into 8 or 10 1 inch strips – there’s a great video tutorial here. Tip your fruit into the dish and level out as much as possible without pressing it down into the pastry too hard. Now you can make assemble your lattice topping which I find is a very satisfying task to accomplish. Trim the long nits of the ends and use a fork or pinch the edges to make it look pretty! You can of course just lay a solid topping and which will be just as tasty, but may need a couple of little holes in the top or a pie funnel to let the steam out when it’s cooking.
Now beat the last egg with a teaspoon of water and use this to brush your pie to give it a nice shiny glaze.
Pop the pie onto a baking sheet or tray and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180˚C (160 Fan/350°F) and bake until golden and the filling thickens, which will be around another 60 minutes but could be between 45 -70 minutes depending on your oven so keep an eye on it. When at your preferred shade of golden brown, take it out and transfer the dish to a rack to cool completely. The smell of strawberry, rhubarb and orange blossom creeping out the open pie top at this point are quite something.
A little note on me and pastry. Apparently people with cold hands make the best pastry as it helps to keep the butter cool during the mixing process and stop the pastry form coming out greasy. A few times it's been remarked on that I must be an excellent pastry maker on the account that I always have shockingly cold hands; but such is life that every time I go to make pastry the pressure to try and live up to the expectations gets the better of me and my hands turn into tiny balls of fire, prematurely melting the butter that I’m so desperately trying to keep cool.
I served it with some lovely whipped cream – to 300ml of double cream add 1/8 tsp. of vanilla powder and 1 tbsp. of icing sugar and whisk to that dreamy whipped consistency!
So, in the spirit of the things, have a wonderful week everyone and may it be full of deliciously flaky pastry and unbelievably good fillings!
Cottage Flower large mixing bowl £20.99 // Cottage Flower small mixing bowl £10.99 // Cottage Flower pie dish £14.99 // Cottage Flower rolling pin £20.99 // Cottage flower cooling rack £9.99 // Pretty Retro Teapot (used as herb pot) £23.99 // Pretty Retro side plate £8.99 // Faux bone cutlery (forks) £31.99 16pc set