Monday, June 27, 2011

Gingered Strawberry Rhubarb Pie adapted from Molly Birnbaum

        As you can see, our farm stands are brimming with all kinds of beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables.  It’s a delight just to look at everything.  And, as Andrew pointed out, there’s a window of opportunity to combine two fantastic local ingredients into one very special pie.  They are our local rhubarb and our beautiful local strawberries.     


        A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article about a young Bostonian cookbook editor and author, Molly Birnbaum.  Ms. Birnbaum has just written a new memoir entitled “Season to Taste”. The book details Ms. Birnbaum’s recovery from being hit by a car while jogging.  One of the awful effects of her accident was her loss of smell.  It was particularly dreadful for Ms Birnbaum because she was months away from enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America and she couldn’t smell a thing. I’ll leave the rest of the story for you to read on the Times website: Or better yet, buy the book.

        This recipe is an example of how Ms. Birnbaum amped up the olefactory quota during her recovery.  To compensate for her diminished sense of smell, she added ginger, cinnamon, and citrus to her grandmother’s strawberry rhubarb pie. This recipe is the delicious result.  Full of strawberries and rhubarb, it is topped with an crunchy streusel of pecans and candied ginger.  Topped with a scoop or two of Vanilla ice cream,  it’s a wonderful treat.  So head to the green market and enjoy this pie—while the berries and the rhubarb are at their prime.  Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Gingered Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with thanks to Molly Birnbaum

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 10 pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 large egg, beaten, for glazing rim

4 cups rhubarb (about 5 large stalks), halved lengthwise and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pint strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 1 orange

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional as needed
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut in pieces
3 tablespoons candied ginger, minced
1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted, chopped fine
Vanilla ice cream, for serving.

Pie Crust after resting 30 minutes in the
1. To make the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups flour with the salt and sugar. Add the butter and shortening and quickly break the large chunks apart with your fingers until the mixture resembles very coarse meal. Stir in the fresh ginger. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over the dough and mix the dough with your hands, without over-handling, until it comes together. If too dry, add another tablespoon or 2 of water. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
2. While the dough is resting, make the streusel topping and the berry mixture. Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, 1/3 cup flour and orange zest.
Do not add the 3/4 cup of sugar until just before you put the fruit mixture into the pre-cooked pastry shell or it will make the mixture far too juicy. Add it at the last minute before putting the mixture into the pre-cooked pastry shell. 

To make the streusel: Mix 1/2 cup flour with the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Add the butter and mix with your fingertips until it is broken into tiny pebbles. Mix in the candied ginger and chopped pecans.
3. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle, about 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights. Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 30 minutes.

4. When pie crust is ready, transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Remove foil and weights. 

5. Add the 3/4 cup of sugar to the fruit mixture then mound the filling in the center and spread the streusel evenly on top, pressing down lightly. Brush the exposed crust with beaten egg and place on the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes more, checking the pie as it bakes. If the crust begins to look too brown, wrap a strip of foil around its edge. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream.

Yield: one 9-inch pie (8 to 10 servings).


  1. This is exactly what I have been NOT doing, though I have been privy to the best strawberry season in years! They are incredible and so will this pie be! I've also not gone for the Coconut Salad as hubby doesn't care for coconut, but this is a two for one deal, and I guess I will have to multi-task and multi-eat.. I don't see that being a problem. Thanks Monte, I needed this!

  2. The funny thing is there has been so much rain here this Spring that the farmers thought the strawberry would be a wash out. When these gorgeous berries first appeared, I asked at our farmstand and they said that it was pretty much a day to day thing. Do go ahead and enjoy the pie--it really is good. XOXO M