One of my favorite things about baking with Sweet Melissa Sundays is that we've kept the group relatively small with a maximum of 50 people. The goal isn't to be exclusive; rather, the small membership size allows each of us to visit and comment on all of the other blogs each week. When a group gets too large, it's simply not feasible for most people to visit everyone and inevitably some blogs don't receive the level of support that others do. I like getting to know the other bloggers in the group better as a result of stopping by their sites week after week - it makes this group a lot of fun!
The other benefit to the small group size is that we'll all likely have the opportunity to host two times and this week just happens to be my turn (my second - the first time I hosted I selected the caramel apple turnovers). After flipping through the book several times marking possible recipes, I settled on the strawberry rhubarb cobbler pie for this week! I had a few reasons - first, I suspected both strawberries and rhubarb would be in season for many of the members and I know I always appreciate when folks choose recipes that include seasonal ingredients. Also, I'd never had rhubarb before and this seemed like the perfect time to finally give it a shot. Plus, baked fruit desserts are one of my favorites, especially when they include both flaky pie crust and buttery biscuits :)
The recipe has three components - a bottom crust, the fruit filling and the cobbler topping. Melissa has two pie crust recipes in the book and I used the all-butter one, though I have provided a link to the recipe for the flaky pie crust (which contains shortening) as well. The all-butter crust recipe has become a go-to in my house since discovering it not too long ago. I can make it quickly in the food processor, it rolls out easily, and it's wonderfully flavorful. Since I already had the food processor out, I used it to make the biscuits too instead of making them by hand as the recipe instructs. I was only able to get 6 full size biscuits and a tiny 7th one, but they fit around the top of the pie perfectly. I used a fluted biscuit cutter, but I probably wouldn't bother next time as you couldn't see the pretty edges after the pie baked. The fruit filling includes strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice so it's very quick and easy to throw together in one bowl. I also found it was the perfect amount of fruit to fill the pie shell.
The hardest part of the recipe for me was determining when the pie was finished. I used the time estimate provided as a guide and waited until my juices were "bubbling and thick" - at about 1 hour and 10 minutes, it seemed I was there. The juices were bubbling feverishly! I pulled the pie out and though the filling looked a bit soupy, I know fruit pies set up as they cool so I hoped the filling would thicken then. Unfortunately, even after letting the pie sit on my counter overnight, the juices weren't as thick as I'd have liked. It made it nearly impossible to cut a neat slice, which explains why I haven't shared a photo of the slice of pie I tried. Were I to make the pie again, I'd bake it a little longer or maybe even use a touch more cornstarch in the filling.
Shane's dad and his coworkers received the remainder of the pie after I snagged my slice. I warned him that the pie was "soupy" before he came to pick it up but he wasn't deterred. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive despite my concerns over the texture. There seemed to be consensus that the filling was really sweet, but no one thought it was a detriment to the pie. I'm still on the fence on the level of sweetness - I might reduce the amount of sugar just a tad when I make it again. Because of the sweetness from the sugar and the strawberries I'm not sure I was really able to taste the rhubarb but Shane's mom commented that she thought it added a bit of tartness. Everyone liked the flavor of the crust and no one thought it was soggy, which I was glad to hear after all the juices I saw sitting atop it. The biscuits on top really made this pie outstanding for me - they were buttery, just a bit sweet but somehow light and even fresh from the lemon zest.
Many thanks to everyone who was able to bake with me this week! I hope the pie was a hit :)
Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Pie
from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
1/2 recipe for Flaky Pie Dough (recipe here) or All-Butter Pie Dough (recipe here)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher slat
2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons, for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon whole milk or heavy cream, for glazing
Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
2 cups rinsed, hulled and sliced fresh strawberries (1/4-inch slices)
2 cups cleaned and sliced fresh rhubarb (1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
To Prepare the Piecrust: Roll the dough into a circle 12-inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Gently fit it into a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the edges under and crimp then refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
To Make the Cobbler Topping: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the zest. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Little by little, stir in the heavy cream until the dough starts to hold together (a bit more cream may be used if needed).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat together to form a round that is 1/2-inch thick. Using a lightly floured 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut the dough into 7 or 8 biscuits (cut as many as you can from the first round then use the scraps to form and cut from a second round).
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until ready to use.
Before You Make the Filling: With a rack in the bottom third of your oven, preheat to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
To Make the Filling: In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch and mix gently. Pour the fruit mixture into the chilled, unbaked pie shell.
To Complete the Pie: Place the cobbler biscuits evenly around the top of the strawberry mixture. Brush the biscuits with the milk (or cream) and sprinkle with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar.
Place the pie on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and thick. To check the "doneness" of the biscuits, carefully lift one to see that the bottom looks like a steamed dumpling and not raw dough. Remove the pie to a wire rack to cool to room temperature before serving.