Today, The Mountain News welcomes award-winning baker, Beverly Marshall of Orting, to these pages. Besides being a master of pastries, Bev is also a former journalist with the Orting Gazette, and we are honored to have Bev join us here, and in particular, sharing the secrets of her rhubarb pie.
It’s Rhubarb Pie Season!
It’s getting close to rhubarb season, and when it comes to rhubarb you either love it or hate it. One time several years ago, I baked a rhubarb pie and took it (recipe below) to a family member’s home. It was for dessert after the meal to which my husband and I were invited. During dessert time, we heard the story about my husband’s nephew who liked rhubarb so well that one time as a child he ate a whole jar of rhubarb sauce and had to stay home from school the next day. You can guess why.
This recipe for Rhubarb Custard Pie was passed down to me from my mom. Just about everyone who eat it thinks it’s the best thurbab pie they’ve ever tasted. I made it more often when I was youngerand more energetic – and wasn’t as concerned about calories. I plan to make one this season, which is just about here. Some of the local farmers will have nice stalks for using in your favorite crisp, pie or cake. Rhubarb does need a fair amount of sugar, although some people like things a bit on the tart side. I don’t. I always put a lattice crust on top because it just wouldn’t be traditional rhubarb pie any other way. I hope you enjoy this version of rhubarb pie.
Mom’s Rhubarb Custard Pie
Pastry for two 9-inch crusts*
4 cups cut-up rhubarb
1-1/2 cups sugar (or to taste)
2 tbsp. Flour or 1 tbsp. Flour & 1 tbsp Tapioca (if rhubarb seems extra juicy, use a little more flour or tapioca).
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tbsp. Melted butter
Have prepared pie crust ready. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash rhubarb stalks, cut off ends and cut into 1/2” pieces
Beat together sugar, eggs, flour, salt and butter until well blended. Spread rhubarb in pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan. Spread filling evenly over rhubarb. Cover with lattice crust (or plain crust). Crimp edges with fork. Brush a little milk lightly over crust; sprinkle with about one teaspoon sugar. This makes the crust extra tasty and more crispy.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 1 hour, until crust is lightly browned and f illing bubbles up. If necessary put foil around edge of crust to avoid overbrowning.
*Hints: While homemade pie crust is the best, store bought will work. Any pie crust is better if you add a teaspoon of cider vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar.
Foolproof Pie Crust
Always tender, flaky and delicious!
4 cups all purpose flour (not instant or self-rising), spooned lightly into cup
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp. Salt
1-3/4 cup shortening (do not use oil, lard, margarine or butter)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. White or cider vinegar
1 large egg
In large bowl, stir together with fork flour, sugar and salt; cut in shortening with fork until crumbly. In small bowl, beat together water, vinegar and egg; add to flour mixture and stir until all ingredients are moistened. Divide dough into five portions. Set aside two portions for immediate use. Slightly flatten the rest, wrap in plastic and put in freezer bag.
On floured surface, roll remaining crusts to 9-inch circles. Add a little more flour if needed to prevent dough from sticking to the surface or to rolling pin. Place one crust in 9-inch pie pan, pressing gently in place to remove any air pockets.
Roll out second ball of dough to 9-inch crust. Here you have a choice. If you don’t want the extra work of making a lattice crust, place crust over filled pie, cut a few slits in top. If making lattice crust, with knife or pastry cutter cut crust into strips about ¾-inch to 1-inch wide. Carefully lift each strip and place on top of filling in lattice fashion overlapping. Use shorter strips on the edges. You will get the hang of it with practice. It is fun to do and looks nice!
Bev’s baking background:
It’s hard to recall exactly when I took an interest in cooking, but I was quite young. Pizza was one of the things I liked to make, and I thought my version was really great. My mom liked it – but then she was my mom! She probably would have said she liked it in any case. My dad was not much of a pizza lover. Period. However by today’s standards, comparing my version to what is available now it was just so so.
I have enjoyed trying new recipes and collecting cookbooks for a long time. I got to be one of those cooks who had to have everything come out perfect or I was disappointed. I enjoyed having dinner guests and honing my cooking skills. Sometimes I’d try a new recipe on my relatives. Something most people would not think of doing for fear of having a failure. I was never worried about that. A time or two I had to apologize and tell my guests that something was not up to par. I learned to tell by reading a recipe if it was going to turn out good or not. I would often change a recipe or adjust the ingredients to fit my taste and what I had on hand to use. Sometimes it turned out to be something even better than the original recipe and an occasional disaster. That’s part of learning.
I started entering cooking and baking contests somewhere around 1972. Local recipe contests drew my attention. I entered several put on by a newspaper, the Pierce County Herald, and won a few prizes – once getting first prize. The contestants recipes were published in a newspaper style “cookbook.”
When I found out about the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, I entered and was chosen as a finalist in 1973, one of 100 that went on to compete for the title of best recipe at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA. The 100 finalists were give the trip there and kitchen appliances, plus a tour of Universal Studios, a day in Disneyland, and $100 cash, which was lot back then. Even though I did not win top honors, being one of 100 was an honor, as there are thousands of entries from all over the country. My recipe was included in their annual cookbook of the 100 top winners. It was called “Easy Crescent Pizza-wiches.” Each year since I entered the contest, Pillsbury sends former “100 winners” the latest Bake-Off Cookbook. I have quiet a collection.
I have not entered any contests in quite some time except about two years ago I sent a recipe to the Light and Tasty magazine. There was no prize involved but my recipe was published in their cookbook “Light and Tasty” and also in their magazine that year.
At least five Orting newspapers carried my recipe column, “Kitchen Creations.” Way back before that it was called “This and That in the Kitchen.” I would occasionally get calls from people asking my advice about a cooking problem or if I knew where to find a certain recipe. All these years later I still get an occasional comment from someone who says they remember my recipes and tell me that they would cut them out of the newspaper.
My cooking in recent years tends more toward simpler meals, but tasty. I am big on using herbs and spices to add flavor. Even though our diets these days tend to be healthier, our food need not be tasteless. In the spring, I like to make a rhubarb pie, and in the fall a blackberry pie. They are among our favorites. They may not be on anyone’s “eating healthy” diet, but an occasional indulgence should not be detrimental to overall health unless serious health problems are an issue. Diabetics even cheat a little, but should be careful about what they eat most of the time. I am dealing with a gluten free diet which I’ll write about at another time.
A good rule to keep in mind concerning eating or anything else: “Moderation in all things.”
© Beverly Marshall 2011