Rhubarb Crumble Pie

I love a gorgeous, colorful plate of food, especially when it tastes as good as it looks. One of my favorite things about dining at nice restaurants is that moment when the food comes out – it’s always fun to see the way the chef chooses to present a dish. Before I began blogging about food and trying to style dishes myself, I probably didn’t take much notice of things like that; I just dug in and started eating immediately :) Now, though, I always take a minute to appreciate the little details and the creativity that went into making the food look the way it does.

Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Unfortunately, sometimes the things that taste the best just aren’t very vibrant or photogenic. Exhibit A? This rhubarb crumble pie. I always have trouble photographing pie, but this one was especially difficult with all of the drab brown going on. Brown crust, brown crumble topping – heck, even the filling lacked color! But trust me, this humble looking pie is worthy of your attention.

This is the first time I’ve ever made a dessert in which rhubarb was the star. In the past, I’ve combined it with raspberries or strawberries to make crumbles, jams, pies and muffins, but when my mom brought me a whole bunch of rhubarb from my uncle’s yard, I decided to take a chance and let it stand on its own in this pie. The recipe has three components – the bottom crust, the rhubarb filling, and the crumble topping. They’re all pretty easy, and the crust and crumble topping can even be made ahead of time, leaving you to just toss the rhubarb with a little sugar, cornstarch and salt before assembling the pie.

Rhubarb Crumble Pie

I don’t make pie all that often so maybe this isn’t saying much, but this might be my favorite pie I’ve ever baked. First, the filling set up beautifully. I’ve made way too many pies that could best be described as “soupy” when I cut into them, and it always drives me crazy. More importantly, of course, the pie was so tasty! I was wary that it might be tart with just the rhubarb, but the sweet crumble topping was the perfect complement to the filling. A slice of the pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top was pretty much a perfect spring dessert in my book! I sent most of the pie back home with my mom and she shared with my uncle – it was the least I could do to pay him back for sharing so much of his rhubarb with me :)

Rhubarb Crumble Pie
from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts

1 9-inch pie crust (I used this recipe)

Crumble Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Filling
1 3/4 lb rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch salt

To make the crust: On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into about a 13-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, and gently ease it in (try not to stretch it). Trim the overhang to about 1-inch, then fold the overhang under so it rests on the edge of the pie plate. Crimp the edges. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

To make the crumble topping: Add the flour, both sugars, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed briefly to combine. With the mixer still on low, cut in the butter, beating until the mixture starts to form large clumps. (You can cover and refrigerate the topping for up to 3 days.)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

To make the filling: Add the rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, and salt to a large bowl. Toss gently to combine. Pour into the chilled pie shell. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the filling then transfer the pie to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil (don’t skip the baking sheet – this pie WILL bubble over and you’ll be left with a giant mess in your oven).

Place the pie in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 375 F. Bake for 1 1/2 hours – the topping should be brown, and the filling should be bubbling pretty vigorously. At about 45 minutes to an hour, start checking the pie frequently to make sure neither the crust nor topping are browning too much. If either is, you can tent the pie with foil for the remainder of the baking time. Remove the pie and transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely for cutting.