As soon as the first rhubarb of the spring season appears, this recipe makes a debut in my kitchen. I make this pie every year and yet every year I am still surprised by how simple and perfect it is. The crust is not a traditional pie crust. It is made in a skillet with a quick melting of butter and vanilla followed by the addition of flour and sugar. The crumbly mixture is then pressed into a pie dish, eliminating the extra steps of needing to refrigerate and roll out the crust.
I love everything about this recipe. I love how the crust is more reminiscent of shortbread, with the top remaining crumbly and crunchy while the bottom absorbs the liquid slightly to create a more solid base and chewy texture. I love how the rhubarb transforms the texture of this pie by giving the filling a beautifully thick consistency. I love how pairing cardamom and strawberry as the main flavor profile seems to work so perfectly. I love how the filling thickens and bubbles over the edge of the pie dish as it bakes, turning from pink to deep red. I love how the tartness of the rhubarb plays with the sweetness of the strawberries in a way that keeps you going back for more.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a Skillet Crust
1 1/2 pounds of stalks of rhubarb (leaves removed), sliced (about 4 cups of sliced)
2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
Make the filling the day before. Mix rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, flour, cardamom, and ginger in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.*
The next day, preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Melt butter in a skillet then turn off the heat. Add vanilla, sugar, and flour and mix well until crumbly in texture.
Place a 9-inch pie dish on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Spoon about two thirds of the skillet crust into the pie dish. Press the crumb on the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish to make a crust. Pour the filling mixture into the pie dish. Sprinkle the remaining skillet crust over the top of the filling. Place cookie sheet with pie on it in the middle rack of oven. Bake for 30 minutes, turn pie, then lower oven temperature to 325 F degrees and bake another 45 minutes to an hour until golden brown and the juices are bubbly and thick at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool several hours (You must let the pie cool thoroughly to room temperature in order to allow the filling to set properly).
Serve alone, with whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
*It is important to make sure and let the filling soak overnight (or at least several hours) as this will help the rhubarb to soften and have the right texture when cooked the next day.