Spring Fever Week: Strawberry Rhubarb Crostata

Spring Fever Week: Strawberry Rhubarb Crostata

Here’s an oldie-but-goodie from the archives. There are still gor­geous shoots of rhubarbs in the stores and this is a really easy yet impres­sive way to use them. Let me know if you try it! — C.M.

I don’t know how many ways we can com­plain about spring’s slow arrival, but it’s get­ting dire, isn’t it? So, at SPC our new motto is: If we eat them, it will come. Them being spring fruits and veg­eta­bles and It being the stub­bornest spring in mem­ory. We couldn’t have known when, some time ago, we decided this would be Spring Fever Week on the site. So we’re sol­dier­ing on. Are you with us?

Rhubarb is one of my favourite spring gro­cery finds and I was excited to intro­duce it to the kids. Like fid­dle­heads (another fave of mine) you really only see the beau­ti­ful local shoots in the stores for a month or so. I thought the sour­ness might pose a prob­lem for the kids but they were so excited to see me bak­ing half of my sales pitch was done for me before the first bite. Well, my first hur­dle was actu­ally find­ing the damn stuff fresh.

Pho­tos by Maya Vis­nyei

It turns out this April has been the cru­elest month for rhubarb, too. It felt like I spoke to every pro­duce guy in Toronto last week­end and they all made the same sad lit­tle head shake before mut­ter­ing, “The weather this year. Hard on the rhubarb.” Well, I did finally get my hands on some down at St. Lawrence Mar­ket but if you end up using frozen that would be per­fectly fine — just let it thaw out before you start.

This crostata is based on one in the new issue of Bon Appetit (love, love, love their new direc­tion). The ver­sion there is rhubarb and rasp­berry but I was really feel­ing like the sweet­ness of straw­ber­ries would make this more appeal­ing for my crew. I tweaked a few other lit­tle things. It’s a very sim­ple pie to make but results in some­thing both rus­tic but impres­sive all at once. You could forgo the raw sugar sprin­kles but it does add a nice crunch and makes it extra gor­geous. And the main thing is by bak­ing and eat­ing this pie you’ll be help­ing spring come. Take it for the team, okay?

Straw­berry Rhubarb Crostata

Spring Fever Week: Strawberry Rhubarb Crostata

Ingredients

  • Crust
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup whole­wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted but­ter, in fact, throw in the freezer
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • Fill­ing
  • 1/4 cup corn­starch
  • 4 cups rhubarb, slice about 1/2 inch thick, it's about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1 6 ounce con­tainer of fresh straw­ber­ries, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp raw sugar (approximately)

Method

Throw your but­ter in the freezer for half an hour before you start. This will change your (bak­ing) life — trust.

Mix flours, sugar and salt in a bowl. Now, grate the very cold but­ter with the large holes on a box cheese grater. This is a trick I learned from Martha Stew­art and is it ever a good thing. I don't have the kind of food proces­sor that's good for doughs and using a pas­try cut­ter work in but­ter is a pain in the butt. Well, no more, my friends, no more. The grater makes the per­fect sized lit­tle bits of but­ter. Then you just toss them into the flour, really toss it around well so it breaks up and every bit gets coated in the flour mix. Whisk together the milk and egg and then stir into the flour. It will seem like not enough mois­ture to hold into a dough but it is. Use your hands to gather it into a ball. Flat­ten it into a disk, wrap tightly will cling wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour and a half but up to two days.

Dis­solve the corn­starch in about 6 Tbsps of water. Com­bine straw­ber­ries, rhubarb and sugar in a heavy bot­tomed pan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dis­solves and the fruit begins to kick off some liq­uid. About 5 min­utes. Add the corn­starch slurry and stir well. Bring the mix­ture to a boil and then take off the heat. Pour the fruit mix­ture into a bowl and place in the fridge for 30 min­utes or com­pletely cool.

Pre­heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place a piece of parch­ment on a large cook­ing sheet. The Bon Appetit recipe I worked from rec­om­mended putting the parch­ment on your counter and then trans­fer­ring the assem­bled crostata onto a sheet and I just didn't want to risk it com­ing apart in move. But my cookie sheet has no edge so it was easy to roll out the dough right on it.

Roll the dough out into a 12 inch cir­cle. Whisk the egg and brush the entire sur­face of the dough with egg. Use a ladle to heap the fill­ing into the cen­tre of the dough. You want to leave about an 1 1/2 inch empty bor­der of dough. The fill­ing will begin to spread so you have to work rel­a­tively quickly here. Fold the edges of the dough into the cen­tre — they will not meet — leav­ing an open hole. Don't worry about mak­ing it per­fect, you'll have to pleat and fold pieces, it's sup­posed to be rus­tic! Brush the bor­der with egg and sprin­kle the edges with raw sugar. Bake for 40 to 45 min­utes until the crust is golden brown. Allow to crostata to cool quite a bit before cut­ting into it.

When I served this at an Easter din­ner there was silence as the kids thought­fully devoured the pie. And then asked for more.

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