Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Summer is moving quickly. It feels like only a moment has passed since school ended and summer vacation began. I've been working on a project of sorts, which has made free time feel scarce. While I'm going to keep it under wraps a little while longer, I'm excited to share the details with you soon!

In the quiet, everyday moments, I remember to enjoy these summer days. I savor time on the deck watching the vegetable and herb garden grow (perhaps too much , as they have quickly escaped the confines of their planters). I remind myself to turn off the background noise in my life (television and cell phone) to bring my thoughts back down to earth.

And, of course, I bake.

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I made this pie a couple of weeks ago, and am finally getting a chance to share it with you. With strawberries and rhubarb in full season, and a holiday around the corner, the timing still feels right. This pie takes full advantage of late spring and early summer's offerings.

I prefer a pie with a bit more bite, so the recipe below results in a pie with a tarter flavor. However, if your tooth is a bit sweeter, add another 1/4 cup of sugar to bring the sweetness to your liking. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, this pie will be sure to please.

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This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie celebrates the seasonal produce of June. Two pints of strawberries and a handful of rhubarb stalks come together in this brightly flavored pastry. With cornstarch to thicken, the pie and its juices set up nicely. Serve with a large spoonful of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream to share.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Two Years Ago: Dulce de Leche Cake
Three Years Ago: Strawberry Layer Cake & Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins
Four Years Ago: Mango MargaritaChocolate Cacao Nib Banana Bread, & Chocolate Espresso Custard
Five Years Ago: Vanilla Chia Pudding, Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake, Boozy Margarita Lime Cake, & Double Chocolate Muffins
Six Years Ago: Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies, Coconut Nutmeg Pudding, Lavender Lemonade, & Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Seven Years Ago: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread, & Chocolate Almond Oat Bars
Eight Years Ago: Chocolate Coconut Granola, Bittersweet Chocolate Sherbet, & Tapioca Pudding

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Yields one 9-inch pie

1 double crust pie dough recipe
2 pints (24 ounces or 680 grams) strawberries, hulled and sliced
10 ounces (280 grams) fresh rhubarb, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Egg wash (1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked), for brushing
Raw or demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, gently stir together the sliced strawberries, rhubarb, sugars, vanilla, and cornstarch until evenly coated. Set aside.

Form the pie dough into a disk and divide it into a 60/40 ratio (if using a store-bought crust, do not worry about this step). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger section of dough into a 14-inch round circle. Carefully transfer it to a 9-inch pie pan and trim the excess pie dough to create a 1-inch overhang. Fill the pie crust with the strawberry-rhubarb mixture.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the smaller section of pie dough. Using a pizza cutter and a ruler, cut out wide strips of dough. Layer the strips over the top of the pie in a decorative fashion and trim so they are even with the edge of the pie pan. Using your fingers, pinch the bottom and top layers together in a pattern of your choice.

Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the pie crust with egg wash and sprinkle raw sugar over the pie. Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Then, lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). If necessary, cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent further browning. Bake an additional 50-65 minutes, or until the lattice and crust are evenly browned. 

For perfect slices, cool for at least 3-5 hours (or overnight). Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Rhubarb Almond Cake

Pastry Affair turned seven this week—a milestone I never imagined when I started this blog so many years ago. 

Blogging has evolved since I began sharing my own recipes and stories. This year more than any other I have felt the pressure to do more and be more. The list of things I "should" be doing to improve this space stretches the length of a page. It is easy to get caught up in comparisons, to feel as if my voice is not enough when it's not coming from a professionally designed website and broadcast across a half dozen beautifully curated social media accounts. At the same time, these comparisons feel so silly. Blogging was never meant to be a competition. There is a place for every voice; our diversity only strengthens us.

I spent time this year reflecting on this space. Pastry Affair has meant very different things to me at different times—a reprieve from reality, a creative haven, a community. I have shared recipes as many as three times a week when I was seeking a sense of purpose, and as little as once a month when I found that purpose as a teacher in a high school classroom. This past year I also did something unusual by taking an unannounced break. I spent a weekend building up a few recipes to share during my absence, and turned off my oven for a solid month. I learned we sometimes need vacations even from the things that bring us joy—when we return, it is with a new energy and excitement.

Though my relationship with this space is ever-evolving, I have enjoyed the journey and the company I have had along the way. Thank you, dear readers, for being the loving, supportive constant that makes this space feel like home.

In the past I've celebrated the blog's anniversary with bold layered cakes, but this year I opted for a simpler, seasonal cake. Growing up, there was an immense rhubarb plant in the backyard. Around late May, the first stalks were ready to harvest; the clean, tart flavor of the rhubarb holds a special place in my memory.

This rhubarb almond cake allows both the tart rhubarb and rich almond flavors to shine. The fresh rhubarb lends moisture to the cake and the almonds provide a grounding profile. The cake is most reminiscent of a pound cake once it has had a chance to cool. The top of the cake is sprinkled with almonds and raw sugar, which provide a sweet contrast to the produce. I adore that the rhubarb carries a tartness after baking, but if you prefer a sweeter cake, cut back on the amount of rhubarb and sprinkle a little more raw sugar over the top. 

Rhubarb Almond Cake is a seasonal snacking cake that balances flavors both sweet and tart. The cake starts with a rich, almond cake batter infused with almond meal and almond extract. Rhubarb is cut and layered in the center and on the top to provide a tart contrast. With a sprinkling of sliced almonds and sugar, the cake bakes up into a treat that is a delight to share. For a better finished product, I suggest cutting the rhubarb into smaller pieces than shown in the photographs. The smaller pieces fit nicely on a fork and provide a more balanced flavor between sweet and tart from bite to bite. 

One Year Ago: Chocolate Banana Baked French Toast
Two Years Ago: Perfect Pie Crust (tutorial) & Berry Balsamic Pie
Three Years Ago: Roasted Strawberry Red Wine Popsicles 
Four Years Ago:  Fresh Strawberry Cake, Whole Wheat Almond Waffles, Pineapple Rum Cocktail, & Nutella Banana Bread
Five Years Ago: Rhubarb Custard Tart, Chocolate Almond Ice Cream, Rhubarb Muffins, Coconut Waffles, & Mocha Granola
Six Years Ago: Parmesan Crackers, Pina Colada Cupcakes, & Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Coconut Granola & Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Rhubarb Almond Cake
Adapted from Floating Kitchen

Yields 10-inch cake

1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (225 grams) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 oz (0.75 lb or 340 grams) rhubarb, sliced into 3/4-inch pieces (roughly six 15-inch stalks)
1/3 cup (30 grams) sliced almonds
1 tablespoon raw or turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 10-inch spring-form pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract until uniform. Gradually add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt, mixing until uniform. 

Spread 1/2 of the cake batter in the prepared pan. Layer 1/2 of the rhubarb pieces in concentric circles. Spread the remaining batter evenly over the top. Layer the remaining rhubarb pieces in concentric circles. Sprinkle evenly with sliced almonds and raw sugar.

Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing spring-form and cooling completely. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet

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In the heat of the summer afternoon, I can be spotted sitting in a deck chair in the sun, my nose buried in the pages of a good book. For someone who is eternally chilled, the oppressive heat is dreamy; I wish I could bottle up the feeling for another season. By far, this form of relaxation is my favorite summer activity, and I look forward to it greatly each year. This is my spa day, my indulgence, my unique form of pampering.

If only these days could last forever.

When the heat grows suffocating, I reluctantly head back indoors to cool off. Since it is one of the rare times the air conditioner feels welcoming against my skin, it would be a sin to turn on the oven to bake. Ultimately, this reasoning is how this sorbet came about. While rhubarb seems to be a fleeting spring trend in the food world, the Upper Midwest enjoys this vegetable all summer long. As a wonderful contrast against the sweetness of summer fruit, the tart rhubarb complements summer fruits and berries well. 

In this sorbet, rhubarb is paired with raspberry to produce a very brightly colored, flavorful dessert. Feel free to use fresh or frozen fruitI have done so with both and it has turned out equally well.

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The sorbet stays soft due to the use of honey as a sweetener. Honey does not contain enough water to freeze (it is a supersaturated sugar solution) and so it prevents the sorbet from freezing hard like other chilled desserts. While this sorbet is not ideal for ice cream cones, one of the benefits of the soft freeze is that the sorbet becomes an excellent base for cocktails. Simply add a scoop or two of sorbet, a shot of vodka, and top it off with a fizzy soda (such as lemon-lime or gingerale) for a sweet summer drink. 

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet is ideal for celebrating the summer months because it requires so few ingredients. Raspberries and rhubarb are boiled down into a sweet sauce and frozen into a soft sorbet. Honey is used as a natural sweetener, and it complements the fruit flavors well. While I suggest a full cup of honey, you can use less if you prefer a more tart sorbet. Simply taste as you go, and you will find your ideal sweetness.

One Year Ago: Cookies & Cream Ice Cream
Two Years Ago: Mint Sugar and Frozen Strawberry Bars
Three Years Ago: Peach & Blackberry Galette, Chocolate Cherry Cake, and Coconut Scones
Four Years Ago: Quinoa Pudding, Blueberry Hand Pies, Black Bean Salsa, and Harry Potter Treats
Five Years Ago: Margaritas and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet

Yields about 1 quart

12 ounces (340 grams) rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch sections
6 ounces (170 grams) raspberries
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1 cup (340 grams) honey 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine rhubarb, raspberries, water, and honey and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and translucent. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. 

Allow mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Run mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds and fibers. Discard solids. Chill for 3-4 hours, or until cold.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker, following the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer sorbet to an airtight container and freeze for 4-6 hours before serving. The sorbet will keep well for 2 weeks in the freezer.