When I started dating my now husband and he decided we were serious enough, he took me “home” to Illinois to meet his parents and family. His parents, bless their hearts, immediately took me in and made me feel like a part of the family. One of my earliest memories of those visits was Dan’s mom making pie, specifically rhubarb pie, every time we came. And dare I admit that I would get up in the morning and finish off the pie for breakfast?!?! Back in the good ‘ol days when I could still eat gluten products. My mother-in-law, Grace, grew up on a farm with nine siblings. Each kid in the family had a specific chore they were responsible for and her chore was baking pies… I think almost every day! It was obvious to me that practice makes perfect once I took a bite of her fabulously flaky, tender crust with the juicy, sweet yet tart, ruby rhubarb filling. Grace was very gracious and gave me her recipe once I gobbled up her pies. While I got the filling right, I discovered it takes a very practiced hand to make a good pie crust, so I gave up…and reverted back to buying Pillsbury refrigerated pie dough. Which, by the way, is a great pie dough… it just can’t compare with really good homemade crust though. Then lo and behold I discovered VODKA! Yeah, we drink it too… but, substituting some of the water in pie dough with vodka makes for an almost fool-proof pie crust. With vodka and a food processor to quickly bring the dough together, I achieved the near impossible…this is every bit as good as my mother-in-law’s crust. And if you make it ahead of time, it’s almost as convenient as the boughten stuff. Once you’ve tried it, you just might be getting up early to polish off the pie for breakfast too!
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
4 cups chopped Rhubarb (frozen is okay, but don’t defrost)
1-1/3 cups white granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance margarine (optional)
9” double crust pastry pie dough
1 tablespoon coarse sparkling sugar, or regular granulated sugar
Instructions: Lay one of the rolled out pastry pie dough rounds into a 9” pie plate. Glass or ceramic dishes bake better than metal, but use what you already have. Combine sugar, flour and salt. Whisk together until flour is incorporated into sugar then mix in the rhubarb, fresh or frozen.
Once the rhubarb is coated with sugar mixture, place on top of pie dough lined dish. Dot with butter or margarine if using. Cover rhubarb with remaining pie dough round and crimp edges. With a sharp knife, make decorative slits in top crust. Brush VERY lightly with a bit of water (1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon max) then sprinkle sugar over top.
Place pie on rack situated middle/lower part of oven. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Rotate pie around and bake for an additional 40 to 45 minutes. If you used frozen rhubarb you will need to add an additional 10 minutes or so to the baking time. You will know it is done when the crust is golden brown and you can see the filling bubbling in the slits.
For extra large deep dish pie:
6 cups rhubarb, 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1-1/2 tablespoons butter. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, decrease temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 50 – 60 minutes or until filling is bubbling.
Recipe inspired by my mother-in-law, Grace Davis. On a personal note, Grace recently passed away at the age of 96-year-old. We hold our sweet memories of her dear to our heart and treasure the love she showed us through her delicious pies.
Double Crust Pie Dough
2-1/2 cups (12-1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup vegetable shortening OR 3/4 cup vegetable shortening and 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, all thoroughly chilled. I use all shortening to keep it dairy-free and vegan.
1/4 cup vodka (any brand), chilled
2-3 tablespoons ice cold water
Place flour, sugar and salt in a food process and pulse 5 times until combined.
Add shortening (cut into medium/small pieces) and butter if using (cut into small cubes) and pulse about 15 times. Scrape down bowl and pulse 3 or 4 more times. Mix 2 tablespoons of ice cold water with the chilled vodka and sprinkle over the flour mixture. If you live in a very dry place or have central air or heat going, you may need to add the additional tablespoon of water. This dough can handle being more moist than traditional pie crust recipes.
Pulse just until the dough begins to stick together. It took me about 6 pulses. You don’t want it to come together in a ball. Overworking the dough is what makes it tough.
Transfer the dough onto a non-stick surface and divide dough in half. Compress each half into a ball and flatten, then wrap well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 3 days.
Rolling it out:
Remove one disk from the refrigerator and place on well-floured work surface. I love my silicone mat and rolling pin for this. Flour the top of the dough along with your rolling pin. Roll the dough into a circle large enough to fit your pie plate with some overhang.
Carefully place the dough into your pie plate then press into the bottoms and sides. If the dough tears just compress it back together. If there’s more than 1 inch of overhang, trim the excess and reserve the dough for cinnamon pie dough rolls.
If you are baking a single piecrust recipe, roll the top crust under to form a nice edge and flute or score with the back of a fork. Bake as your pie recipe directs.
For a double crust pie, place the dough lined pie plate back into the refrigerator while you work on the filling. Once the filling is completed, roll out your second disk of dough large enough to cover your pie plate. Fill the bottom crust with filling, top with the dough round, trim edges and flute. Proceed to bake according to your pie recipe.
This dough freezes well for 3 months. Just defrost in the refrigerator overnight then proceed with the directions.
Recipe inspired by America’s Test Kitchen
- If the crust begins to get too brown during baking, cover with pieces of foil or a pie crust shield. I have the “old” metal one but I noticed amazon now has an adjustable silicone model…. I think that might go on my birthday wish list!
- During the spring and early summer when rhubarb is in season, I buy extra and freeze it for the winter months. Simply wash and chop the rhubarb into small chunks. Pat dry and place in a freezer-safe ziplock bag, squeezing the air from the bag before sealing. I freeze mine in 4 cup increments so I don’t have to remeasure when baking pie. I’ve kept frozen rhubarb for 8 months and the resulting pie tasted just fine.
Cinnamon Pie Dough Rolls
No measurements here…. Just go with it! Collect the scraps from your leftover pie dough. Compress together then roll out into a thin round (1/8 inch thick or less.) Spread a thin layer of melted butter or margarine over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the butter then top with sprinkles of cinnamon. Gently press the mixture into the dough. Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a circular tube and pinch the seams together. Slice into 1-inch pieces and place cut side down onto a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown at 350 degrees (or whatever temperature your pie is baking at.) My rolls took about 20 minutes. Cool just until they don’t burn your mouth when eating, then enjoy!
Recipe inspired by my mother-in-law, Grace Davis