So, I researched, developed, and (might I add) perfected this deep-dish rhubarb pie recipe kind of a while ago in blog years (ie: two weeks ago). And although I was extremely pleased with how it turned out (it’s totally delicious and I love the way it looks — i’m a sucker for pies that reject the constrains of a pie plate) and with the praise it garnered from my dinner party guests, I have had the hardest time sitting down to write about it. I’m not sure what the writer’s block is about. iIt might be my resistance to jumping on the slightly precious “I only bake seasonally” bandwagon (rhubarb is such a predictable ingredient right now) or my preoccupation with the recipe for chocolate banana-bread bread pudding that I am in the process of developing, or the freelance job I’ve had these last weeks, proofreading a gorgeous, but mammoth, manuscript for a recently translated baking cookbook. I’m not sure, but the truth is, this rhubarb pie recipe is simple to make, produces the tastiest of treats, and is oh so spring-y (hello, seasonal police) and I’m finally ready to tell you about it, so here goes.
Although I had been thinking about developing something with rhubarb, despite my desire to avoid the aforementioned “bandwagon,” for quite some while, due to the copious amounts growing in my garden it was the picture of Joanne Chang’s strawberry slab pie in Food & Wine that truly inspired this recipe for deep-dish pie yumminess. I stumbled upon her recipe while sitting in the orthodontist’s office (no, i am not getting braces — I was waiting for one of my testers to get fitted for head gear) and truth be told, I “inadvertently” slipped the issue right into my bag (ie: I’m not only anti “seasonal,” I’m a thief to boot). As I mentioned above, I love a pie that is baked in a shape other than round, and although I’ve seen rhubarb pie bars baked in square pans, I hadn’t yet seen a pie baked in such a manner. I was smitten.
However, though I love strawberries (strawberry malted milkshake recipe coming soon, to a blog near you) and double-crusted pies, I was eager to try my hand at a “straight-up” (ie: exclusively rhubarb) rhubarb pie a la Anne Dimock, and was kind of jonesing for a pie with a crumb-topping. I looked at Saveur for additional rhubarb-only inspiration and to Martha Stewart (and Land O’Lakes, I’m not going to lie) for oat-less crumb-topping guidance. (I like my topping sans oats, i.e. only flour, butter, and sugar.) And with the above research carefully logged, I developed this:
A pie with a whopping 8 cups of rhubarb (we’re talking deep-dish here, people), a generous amount of both light brown and granulated sugars (I’ve got a sweet-tooth after all), an egg and a couple of yolks (kind of an interesting addition in my opinion, and inspired by the above recipes, arrow root as a thickener, and being a rhubarb purist, nary a spicy-addition save for cinnamon. The crust for my pie’s bottom is my own favorite pie crust and the crumb, a perfect blend of buttery-sugary-deliciousness. Yes, it has taken me a tad longer than usual to get this recipe to you, but I promise that you will be very pleased with yourself, as will those who are partial to seasonal sweets, once you taste this gorgeous, crumb-topped, rhubarb-only, square-pie.
Deep Dish Rhubarb Square Pie
- See above for pie crust recipe.
For the crumb topping
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 6 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt rounded
- 1 1/2 sticks 12 tbsp, unsalted butter, cold
- 1 large egg
- 2 yolks
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar you can use a bit more/less depending on how sweet you like your sweets
- 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar you can use a bit more/less depending on how sweet you like your sweets
- 8 cups rhubarb cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup arrowroot
- 1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp heavy cream
- Follow the above pie crust instructions
To make the crumb topping
- Place the flour, sugars, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and whisk. Cut the butter into small cubes and place it into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, blend the butter into the flour/sugar, creating small crumbs until the two are completely incorporated. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the rhubarb filling
- Lightly whisk the egg and yolks together in a large bowl. Add the sugars and whisk again. Add the rhubarb and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine. Add the arrowroot and cinnamon, and stir again.
To assemble the pie
- Remove the pie dough disc from the refrigerator. Slice off about 1/4 of the dough and return it to the refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap for another use (see the notes below for what I would suggest you do with it). Roll the dough into a 14-by-14-inch square (or thereabouts) on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, and transfer the dough to the bottom of your 9-by-9-inch square baking pan, easing the dough up the sides of the pan (I did not spray or butter the pan prior to placing my dough inside of it, but it might not be a bad idea).
- Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork and spoon the rhubarb into the dough-lined pan. Fold over the edges of the dough and tuck them under and use a fork to make a decorative edge.
- Sprinkle the crumb all over the top of the fruit and place in the freezer for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Make the egg wash by combining the egg and the heavy cream in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the crimped edge of the pie with the wash. Place the pie on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake for about 40 to 50 minutes. Check on the pie after 40 minutes, and if the crust is getting too brown, cover the edges lightly with tinfoil (easier said than done, I know).
- Remove the pie from the oven when the filling is bubbling ferociously (you will see this happening in and around the crumb topping). Place it on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve at room temp or warm with a large dollop of vanilla ice cream. The pie does not slice-up in the neatest of portions, but I swear to you, no one will mind.