Rhubarb-raspberry pie, tiny-style

29 06 2009

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Nothing gets the taste of fear and humiliation out of your mouth like rhubarb pie. That is, according to Garrison Keillor. And technically, it’s Beebopareebop Rhubarb pie that has such palatte-cleansing properties. I could see, though, how these tiny rhubarb pies could ease social anxiety. Tart-sweet desserts with flaky crusts always make things easier. That’s why I hover around the food table at parties.

I had a couple of stalks of rhubarb left over from The Great Jam Episode of Summer Ought-Nine, so I thought I’d try my hand at pie-making. I’ve made pie before; in fact, I usually make a few each summer. But I learned early on that crust just isn’t my bailiwick. Mine are usually tough or gooey, or sometimes strangely grainy, even after using recipes with names like “World’s Easiest and Most Foolproof Pie Crust.”  So I was a little nervous about how these would turn out. I envisioned tough, tart, slightly burned, inedible little masses. 

But I need not have worried! Not only is the fear and humiliation gone from my mouth, but so is the taste of pie anxiety and woe.  It’s replaced, of course, with the tart and not overly-sweet filling, and a flaky, tender crust. Ahhh, tiny pies!

They're lined up like tiny pie soldiers.  Tiny pie soldiers for my tiny pie army.

They're lined up like tiny pie soldiers. Tiny pie soldiers for my tiny pie army.

Tiny Rhubarb-raspberry Pies

 Makes between four and six pies, depending on how you do your crust tops.  

Crust (I really wanted a recipe that called for both butter and shortening.  I surfed around til I found Ann Coleman’s, here. I’m not sure who this Ann Coleman is, but her recipe sure is good!)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 Tbs butter

4 Tbs shortening

1 egg, lightly beaten

2-3 Tbs ice water

Now, I did this in the food processor (My first time doing it that way.  Maybe that’s why I finally produced a real pie crust!) But the procedure is basically the same if you do it by hand.

Mix flour and salt.  Cut in butter and shortening (chunk it all up first OH and please make sure it’s COLD).  Add egg and mix. Then add ice water and gently mix until it all comes together.  Smash it into a disk, wrap it up and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

Pie filling

1 stalk rhubarb, sliced lengthwise and then again into 1/2 inch chunks

3/4 cup raspberries (I imagine any fruit would work here)

3 Tbs brown sugar

1/2 tsp corn starch

1/2 Tbs butter

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Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all filling ingredients except for butter together in a smallish bowl.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  I used a muffin tin as my tiny pie pan.  It’s not perfect, but it works.  Before I do anything, though, I made pie handles out of parchment paper.  I cut 5-inch-long strips (1 inch wide) and laid them in the bottom of the muffin tins.  It made it a lot less stressful to extract the tiny pies from the tins when they were done.  

Roll out the pie dough on a floured surface.  Cut a circle that is bigger than the diameter of whatever you are baking your pies in (muffin tins, ramekins, tiny tart pans, etc.).  Just do one at a time, for heaven’s sake.  What if you run out of dough and can’t make the kinds of tops you want?!  Gently lay the circle in the tin (over the parchment pie handle, of course), and lightly press it so it fits in.  

Now fill it with the rhubarb mixture so it sort of heaps and mounds in there.  Add a dab of butter if it suits you.

Then make whatever sort of top you want.  I did a few regular double crusts, one lattice, and two more free form bundled rustic ones.  Repeat until filling and dough are used up.

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If you want super fancy pies, brush the tops with a little beaten egg and sprinkle some sugar on top.  I skipped this step because I was so excited to get them in the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until crusts are nicely browned and the filling is bubbly.  

When they are finished, take them out of the oven and let them cool for at least 15 minutes before taking them out of the pans. Use the pie handles to gently lift the tiny pies.  You will be so glad you took the time to do this, trust me!  I imagine these pies would be delicious with vanilla ice cream.  Or a little whipped cream.

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