I was shopping for arugula and onions and saw that strawberries were on sale. Actually, I didn’t see that they were on sale until their fragrance drew me to their stand. I bought the berries and immediately thought of the rhubarb in the garden – natch. (I’d been feeling guilty about it – it was growing beautifully and I wasn’t doing anything with it.) And so, when I got home, I started making tart dough – yes, I’m that kind of baker. A more practical person would have bought dough in the supermarket – and it would have been fine for a Tuesday night. Really. (I used the sweet tart dough from Baking Chez Moi. Rolled it thin, cut rounds using a saucer as a guide, fitted them into small pie pans and froze them while I preheated the oven. I prebaked the piecrusts so that they’d hold up to the juicy filling.)
While the piecrusts baked, I made the filling. For 2 individual pies I used:
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (quartered the big ones)
3 slender stalks rhubarb, trimmed, sliced into small chunks
1/4 cup sugar (I probably could have used just 3 tablespoons because the berries were so sweet)
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime
I mixed everything together and let the fruit rest. After just a few minutes, there was plenty of juice in the bowl.
When the crusts were baked, I should have let them cool, but I didn’t have time. It was Tuesday, remember? And so here’s what I did – ATTENTION: this is the cool thing I didn’t even think about …
I used a slotted spoon to lift the fruit out of the syrup and into the piecrusts.
I know it doesn’t sound like much, but leaving the syrup behind is what controlled the juiciness of the pie and kept the bottom crusts from going all soggy.
When the fruit was in, I drizzled just the teensiest bit of syrup over it – just to give it a glisten.
I topped the fruit with streusel because I had a quart of it in the fridge. It’s a handy thing to have in the fridge or freezer if, like me, you’re a last-minute baker. (Here’s a recipe for my streusel.)
Pop the little darlings onto a parchment, foil or silicone mat-lined baking sheet and bake in a 375-degrees-F oven until the topping is brown, about 30 minutes.
And now, what to do with the luscious leftover syrup? I used it for two things:
I mixed some of it into crème fraiche and served it with the pies – this was the idea that Casey Ellis liked.
And I mixed some of it into cold white wine to make a kind of Kir. This was the idea that I liked.