Farmer’s Market Finds Part IV: Rhubarb

May 26, 2008

It’s only appropriate that I post this Rhubarb Tart today, on Memorial Day. Because it was on another quintessentially American holiday, the Fourth of July, that I made my first pie ever. Kevin and I had just moved in together in D.C. and we woke up to a rainy day, realizing that making the short walk from our apartment to the National Mall to watch the fireworks would be soggy and crowded and not that fun. And then we realized that our apartment would provide an excellent view of the fireworks, not to mention a dry place to ooh and ahh. So, we called up some friends and officially threw our first impromptu party.

We spent the better part of the “holiday” hatching a menu, driving to grocery stores and cooking. The menu was perfect, but it was also a little over-ambitious. We frantically mixed up salads (panzanella and a red-white-and-blue (okay, fine, purple) potato salad). And as Kevin commandeered one of the apartment complex’s shared grills, I set out to make my first pie ever. I think it might’ve been delicious, but I’m quite certain that it was also a terrifying experience. Is the dough too dry? Have I handled it to much? Have I crimped the edges firmly enough? Have I piled in too much filling? Not enough? In the end, it was an act of faith. I carefully topped the pie with its pastry lid, pinched together the edges, cut small slits and slid it in the oven. And then, I waited.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

I knew I was in trouble when the perfume of the buttery pastry and its cinnamony filling began to work its way throughout our apartment. And I was just done for when I pulled out the pie plate, which had transformed into a golden, oozy round. I’d slipped the pie in the oven with a mere whisp of faith and pulled it out a full-fledged believer in pie.

Now I delight in turning anything and everything I can into a pie filling. So it is no great surprise that I decided to do exactly that with the rhubarb I found at the Madison Farmer’s Market last weekend. It was my first experience with a lattice and it was every bit as terrifying as my first go-round with pie. And I was equally thrilled with the results. This tart had the same flaky pastry shell and the same stewed (and, here, ginger-spiked) filling. And it still called out for a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But this one was blanketed by a pretty criss-cross pattern, through the diamonds of which the rhubarb filling desperately tried to bubble up and escape.

Happy Memorial Day: We are spending the long weekend in Bermuda. We’ll be back on Wednesday but until then comment responses and moderation will be slow.

Lattice-Topped Rhubarb Tart
Adapted from Various Cooking Light Recipes

1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 tablespoons ice water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups sliced fresh rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon raw or sanding sugar

To prepare the pastry, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle surface with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time; toss with a fork until moist and crumbly (do not form a ball).

Divide the mixture into thirds. Take one-third and press it gently into a 4-inch circle and wrap between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap. Press the remaining two-thirds of the mixture gently into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap, and cover with additional plastic wrap. Chill both circles for 15 minutes.

Combine the rhubarb, flour, sugar and ginger in a large bowl. Let stand for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Roll the larger circle of dough, still covered, into an 11-inch circle. Roll the other circle into a 9-inch circle. Place the dough circles in freezer 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed. Remove 1 sheet of plastic wrap from the larger circle; fit dough into a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan. Remove top sheet of plastic wrap. Press the dough against bottom and sides of pan. Trim excess dough.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Scoop the rhubarb filling into the tart shell, spreading it evenly.

Remove the remaining dough from the freezer. Remove the plastic wrap and transfer the dough to a lightly flour surface. Using a pastry cutter or pizza wheel, cut the circle into 1/2 inch strips. Arrange the strips atop the rhubarb filling in a lattice pattern.

Using a pasty brush, brush the lattice and tart shell with the milk. Sprinkle with raw or sanding sugar.

Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 60 to 75 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

4 Responses to “Farmer’s Market Finds Part IV: Rhubarb”

  1. What a beautiful pie. I have got to learn how to make this kind of topping!

  2. Kevin Says:

    That rhubarb tart looks really good!

  3. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    Patricia: Thank you! And, actually, I have to learn how to make a lattice too. I was kind of winging it and now I’m hooked.

    Kevin: Thanks!

  4. eggsonsunday Says:

    Kristin, it’s beautiful! I’ve never attempted lattice-top pies — perhaps this summer I’ll give it a go. I can almost taste how delicious this must have been! – Amy

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