Strawberry Rhubarb Mini, But Not Too Mini, Pies
The clap of the cabinet doors opening and closing falls into sync with the cacophony of ruffling, falling, moving plastic bags, boxes shuffling to and fro and vegetables thumping into their bins. My elementary hopes of candies and sweets and treats and more fade with each reveal from my mother’s grocery shopping. As empty plastic bags begin to litter the kitchen counters and as the cabinets, pantry and fridge fill up I can only assume all my requests for dinners made entirely of ice cream and sandwiches made only from candy went on deaf ears. My fidgety anticipation fades into a solemn dissapointment. I turn to leave what would have been my favorite room had my sugar-heavy wishes been granted. Suddenly my ears pick up on the sound of yet more plastic. This plastic is different. It sounds… could it be? My eyes surely won’t lie.
Beautiful, red strawberries protected in their plastic box emerge from a lone, hidden plastic bag. The beautiful, sweet scent of spring suddenly fills the air. I tuck my small 3 foot frame into a corner, waiting to pounce on these, the last refuge from the healthiness my mother plans to force on me at meal time. With a swift swipe my mother gathers the plastic bags and tosses them into the trash, exiting the now-vacant room. I count to ten, assuming this will give my mother plenty of time to wonder off to a distant area in the house. I run to the screen door facing the back yard to make sure my father is mid-task. He has just begun planting a row of squash seeds. A smirk pieces my lips in anticipation for my freedom to enjoy a strawberry or two.
I skedaddle back to the kitchen, stealthily prying the fridge door open, looking over my shoulder every few moments. My smirk grows into a full smile. The strawberries sit like a beacon on the lowest shelf. This is too easy for a hungry, sugar-crazed eight year old. I carefully pick one strawberry from the plastic cage trying to protect them from prying hands. I admire the beautiful red hue as I pop the first forbidden fruit into my mouth, taking a small bite leaving just the leaves and a tiny remnant of the berry. I peek around the door, my eyes still scoping my surroundings. All clear. I sample another. My sweet tooth then takes over knowing a devilish way I can make this strawberry even better. I greedily grab the plastic bin from the fridge and tote it to the other side of the kitchen. With a small leap I pull a small ceramic container to the edge of the counter and then to the ground with me. Inside is white gold, pure granulated happiness, kid crazy juice, the other white powder, sweet, delicious sugar. I first dip one strawberry into the perfect coating of sugar. Then I dip another.
Just one more. I reach my hand into the small plastic tub to grab another. My eyes widen before I can look down to confirm my suspicions. Had I had the vocabulary of a sailor at age eight, I might think to myself, “Fuck!” But I was eight so instead I began to devise some silly scheme to assure my innocence. It of course would not work and ultimately I would receive some small punishment for eating a pint of strawberries and a pound of sugar. It did not matter though. It was so delicious. It was so very much worth it.
While I have a love for trying new things, exploring unfamiliar flavors, playing with unique recipes and chasing a once unbeknownst-to-me foodie secret, I also have a soft spot for some traditional favorites. Pie is one of those favorites. Strawberry rhubarb pie is quickly topping that list. I have always loved strawberries but I have only recently fallen in love with pairing strawberry and rhubarb together. The tartness of the rhubarb and sweetness of the strawberry make them a perfect pair. These micro pies, which aren’t entirely micro, are quite tart.
I used four creme brulee dishes/ceramic tartlet pans. To tell you the truth I don’t know what exactly their intended use is. I just know I thought they were cute when I stumbled upon them, so I bought a few. You can use whatever small baking dishes you may have. If you don’t have any small baking dishes you can make one normal sized pie with the ingredients in this recipe. You’ll just want to bake the pie for an extra 10-20 minutes once you lower the temperature to 350F. More on this in a bit. You can also use any pie dough you’d like, but I’ve included one of my favorites below.
I decided to cut out flowers for the top of the pies because I felt it was fairly festive and perfect for summer. You can use any shape or pattern you like, so long as you cut a hole in the top for the steam. My flower cut outs are far from perfect as I think home baking should be. Don’t fret too much over cutting out perfect flowers.
Strawberry Rhubarb Mini Pies
Ingredients 1 pie dough recipe *see below 4 oz (1/2 cup) sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 tablespoons flour 1 lb (about 3 or 4) rhubarb stalks 2 pints strawberries 2 teaspoons cinnamon Zest from 2 lemons 1 egg for an egg wash Extra sugar for the top of the pie Instructions 1. Prepare the pie dough. Roll out 8 circles about 1/8th inch thick. Roll 4 of the circles at least an inch or two wider than the dish to ensure there will be enough dough to rise up the sides. Roll the other 4 circles just a tiny bit wider than the top of the dish. Refrigerate the dough until read to use. Preheat the oven to 400F. 2. Mix the sugar, corn starch and flour together. 3. Dice the rhubarb into 1/4-1/2 inch cubes. Core and halve the strawberries. Mix the rhubarb and strawberries into the sugar mixture ensuring everything is coated evenly. 4. Add the cinnamon and lemon zest and mix in well. Set the mixture aside for about 30 minutes. 5. Place the large dough circles into the baking dishes, taking care not to stretch the dough into the corners but instead pushing on the excess dough from the sides so it falls into the corners. 6. Using tongs pick up and spread the fruit mixture evenly into the bakingdishes nowlined with the pie dough. Avoid including too much ofthe liquid into the pies. 7. Place the filled pies into the refrigerator while you cut/shape the dough for the top of the mini pies. 8. For flowers, mark (don't cut) a line down the center of the circle three or four times evenly spread apart, like spokes on a tire, depending on if you want six or eight leaves. 9. Starting at the outside of one of the lines, cut in a curve moving away from the line then halfway towards the center moving back in. Repeat on the other side of the line. Don't cut all the way to the center. Make sure you stop 1/2 aninch from the center for what would be the capitulum of this pastry daisy. Repeat for each line until you have something that looks like a flower. Don't worry about trying to make it perfect. 10. Lay the cut flowers on top of the mini pies. You can press the end of the flower petals lightly to adhere them to the edge of the baking dish but it is not necessary. 11. Cut small circles from the remaining dough pieces for the center of each flower. Brush a little egg wash on the center of the flower before adding the circle. 12. Brush egg wash on the rest of the dough. Sprinkle some sugar on top of the dough. 13. Place the mini pies in a shallow baking sheet and place in a preheated oven. 14. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is thick and bubbly. 15. Let cool slightly before serving.
Ingredients 12.5 ounces Bread Flour (about 2 1/2 cups) 1 teaspoon salt 11 ounces lb cold unsalted butter 1/3 cup ice water (or just a little less) Instructions 1. Measure out the flour and mix in the salt. 2. Dice the cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the flour. 3. Working quickly, pinch each chunk between your fingers in the flour. You'll want to create pea sized pieces. Work quick to ensure the fat (butter) stays cold and holds it shape. You want to form pockets of butter between the flour, not blend it together. 4. Once the fat has been pinched and mixed through the flour, add the cold water. Quickly mix the water in just until a dough forms. Use a kneading-like motion to mix in the water. You should see small chunks of butter throughout the dough. 5. Make a ball with the dough, flatten, and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.
Try using the left over juice from the fruit to make a sauce for the pies. Throw the extra juice in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to a simmer, cooking for a few minutes until the sauce has started to thicken. Add a few pads of butter and stir until melted in. Continue cooking until thick. Pour it right over the pies.