Rhubarb Me! The Experiment Ends

Disclaimer: This post is long and full of pie references, so don’t blame me if you’re hungry when you’ve finished reading.

This summer I have been experimenting with pies. Rhubarb pies, to be exact.  At some point this summer my brother said those words that etched themselves in my mind: Pie Me!

Note: He didn’t really say those words, but that was his meaning.

My brother was on a quest to enjoy a slice of rhubarb pie that tasted like what he remembered our Gramma serving up when he was but a boy.

Note, also:  I do not like rhubarb pie.

Let me rephrase: in the past, I did not like rhubarb pie.  Since this summer experiment began, I have learned to like it more.  During the course of the summer I have made four, count them, four, rhubarb pies, with mixed results.  What we were shooting for with this experiment was a rhubarb cream pie like Gramma Foulkrod used to make. What we got was something south of that–some good, some not so good results.

What follows is my summary of our summer time experimenting with rhubarb and pie:

Pie No. 1 we do not have true photographic evidence for, it was that unworthy.  This is a stock picture of a true cream pie:  Mine looked pinker, due to the food coloring I added.  This one is light in comparison. Mine was yucky brown in color.

000rhubarb creamPie No. 1 was a true cream pie in every sense of the word.  It’s shell was baked separate from the filling, which was done on top of the range.  It looked like light brown baby puke. So much so, that we had to add red food dye to the filling before gifting it to my brother.  Pie No. 1 was wayyyyy too sweet for this sugar addict, which is saying something.  No, I did not like Pie No. 1, which is probably why I didn’t take a picture of it before we sent it off to my brother’s house to be consumed.  That, and the fact that I had no idea I would be making four rhubarb pies as the summer went on.  Pie No. 1 was not what he was looking for, but I think it got eaten. If not, I was not told about it being thrown away.  It was not a great representation of rhubarb pie if you ask me.

Nothing to see here. Move on.

Pie No. 2 was what I would call a custard pie, and not a cream pie. My contention is that if the pie filling is baked inside the crust, you do not have an authentic cream pie no matter how creamy the filling might end up being.  Pie No. 2 was creamy and custardy, and what I would call a rhubarb custard pie.

Pie No. 2 had a few problems.  First, I cut the rhubarb pieces too small. I diced them, when they should have been cut in 1″ sections (remember that if you attempt a rhubarb pie). You want to taste the rhubarb, and not just the cream in the filling.  Pie No. 2 also looked to me to be more quiche than pie, but here are a few pictures for you, so you can judge for yourself.

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Pretty creamy, but still custardy too, and it looked like it had ham in it.  This pie had orange juice concentrate in the filling.  The OJ added a nice tang to the pie, but it did not taste a lot like Gramma’s pie, so we pressed on.  I don’t think my brother got a bite of this pie, but Megan liked it very much and she is a rhubarb pie connoisseur.

Pie No. 3 was baked a few weeks later.  Pie No. 3 got really big in the oven. It grew and grew, and grew, until when I took it out the top was about an inch above the pan, but all that inflation was meringue that sank as the pie cooled.

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Pie No. 3 was wayyy more custardy than Pie No. 2, and I attributed that to the fact that I didn’t read the instructions for Pie No. 2 (same recipe on pie 2 and 3, but different results), and mixed the meringue in with the filling my first go around.  It was supposed to be held until the end, them gently folded in, but the recipe didn’t say that until the end.  Ugh.  The flavor and texture for this pie were still off and not what Gramma had made for my brother, so we pressed on once more.

Pie No. 4 was my last attempt; made last Sunday night.  In my opinion, it was the worst of the lot (and this once was purported to be Gramma’s original recipe).  This pie was not at all what I expected, and my brother said it wasn’t what he remembered either. I had a few complaints with this recipe, but first the photographic evidence.

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Yes, it really did look that dark when it was done baking!

Doesn’t that look dry and burned?  I left it in for less time than the recipe called for, and still it was overdone.  The top looks nasty, but it didn’t taste as bad.  It was too brown, though; even the crust got too brown.  The temperature the recipe called for (400 degrees F), was too high in my opinion, and the bake time much too long (50 minutes). One thing I will say is that I did not have the full amount of rhubarb that was called for by the time I got to this pie, so that may have changed the results.  Also, the rhubarb I had was frozen, and my experience has been that if you want a good rhubarb pie, you have to use fresh rhubarb.  I’m glad I checked on the pie before it was set to be done or it would have been a cinder.  This pie tasted okay, but it lacked the freshness the pies had when adding OJ to the filling.

This pie had nutmeg in it, which seemed really wrong to me.  It was!  Don’t get me wrong, I like nutmeg, but it seemed inappropriate for this filling.  Out of step with the season made for rhubarb pie, if you know what I mean.  It felt more like a Thanksgiving or Christmas pie, instead of a summer fruit pie.

When all was said and done, I think my favorite was Pie No. 2, the pie Megan liked, and my brother didn’t get to sample. Go figure!  Poor bro didn’t get to taste that one, but we enjoyed it. 

If it had more fruit in it, if the pieces were bigger, and if the OJ remained, enhanced by a bit of nutmeg, I think we might have a winner in Pie No. 2.  My experimentation with rhubarb is done for this summer, but I am looking forward to trying something new.

Next up: Peaches and Cream pie. Any takers?  We serve it with hot coffee and whipped cream at my house.  Can I see a show of hands? Who’s in?

Do you like pie? What is your favorite pie flavor?

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