Gina Florio
Updated Jul 19, 2016 @ 1:20 pm
Credit: Gina Florio

There are very few things I brag about in my life. One is how quickly I can recite the alphabet backwards. Another is what exceptional pies I’m capable of baking. I’ve been working on my pie-making abilities since my teenage years and I’ve learned quite a few things about the subject along the way. I became especially interested in baking pies because of the particular reaction it elicits from friends and family. Homemade pie makes people feel like they’re home. It’s the ultimate comfort food that reminds you of a more innocent time, and there are very few kinds of desserts out there that have the same effect.

My favorite pie — the one all my friends beg me to make, the one that can bring people to tears — is my strawberry rhubarb pie. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, rhubarb is a tart vegetable that is available in spring and summer. Technically, peak rhubarb season ended in June, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your hands on good quality rhubarb today.

Credit: Gina Florio

Rhubarb goes beautifully in desserts because of how well the tartness pairs with fruits like raspberries or strawberries. I’ve tried it with both, and I prefer the latter. I’ve also experimented with quite a few different recipes, many of which didn’t have the best proportions of rhubarb to fruit. However, after many different rounds of experimentation, Martha Stewart’s recipe of strawberry rhubarb pie takes the cake (ha!) for the best version of this scrumptious summer dessert.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

The Crust

2 disks Pate Brisee (we’ll explain that below)

All-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Coarse sanding sugar for topping

The Filling

1 3/4 pounds rhubarb, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 cup strawberries, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 raw sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Credit: Gina Florio

First, let’s talk about the Pate Brisee, which is just a fancy name for pie dough.

Even if you’ve never even considered making pie dough before, fret not. It’s actually pretty easy, especially after you get some practice under your belt. Find Martha Stewart’s recipe here. Follow the recipe as you may, though, but know there are still a few unspoken secrets to making the classic, flaky, and buttery kind of pie dough your grandmother used to produce. The most important thing is to make sure your butter is cold, cold, cold, as that’s what eventually gives you the flaky texture you’re looking for. I actually cut the butter up into cubes, spread them out on a plate, and put them in the freezer for 10 minutes before I handle it. That way, there’s less of a chance it will start to melt when you mix it with the flour.

Another big thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t handle the dough too much before you put it in the fridge. If it ends up stretchy and sticky, you’ve gone too far. It’s meant to look short, like, you know, a shortcrust pastry.

The filling itself is a breeze to make. It’s the lattice on top that really takes the most time.

Credit: Gina Florio

Okay, so, the lattice.

Go slow when you’re doing the lattice. Take your time and stay focused, and it’ll turn out just fine. I know, this sounds too serious to be talking about pie, but you’ll find out soon enough how frustrating it can be.

Another useful tip:

Don’t forget to put a foil-lined baking tray on a rack underneath the pie, because this juicy sucker will bubble over. And the mess you’ll have to clean up at the bottom of you oven won’t exactly put you in a good mood.

Here’s the hardest part, though:

Wait until the pie cools off completely before serving. Ideally, wait around 4 hours before you cut the first slice, but an hour and a half will do. Trust me, this will feel utterly impossible when it comes out of the oven, bubbling furiously and taunting you with its heavenly scents. But you can do it! Pop on some Netflix to help you wait it out.

Credit: Gina Florio

Look at her! Isn’t she beautiful? Look how the juices at the edges have caramelized a little bit. It goes smashingly well with vanilla ice cream (not surprisingly), and just wait until you experience the unique sweet tartness that hits your tongue, thanks to the rhubarb. Summer never tasted so good.