It’s been an age, I know. An awful lot has been happening, and frankly, it’s meant that the spare time I have had has been spent playing games/watching Netflix/snuggling with the cat. Cooking became rushed – a means to an end to stop tummy-rumblings – and repetitions of the same old recipes (which while still delicious, are not helpful when it comes to writing). This is an attempt to get back into the swing of things. I’ve started cooking more again, and have set myself a few challenges: I’m trying to cook more from recipe books, and I’ve also gone vegan for lent (again).
This pie is not vegan, but it’s one I’ve been meaning to post for a long time. I actually made it way back in October last year, but it’s just as relevant now as vibrant, rosy-pink forced rhubarb is gracing supermarket shelves. The decoration isn’t strictly necessary, but brings a definite wow-factor to the table.
Ingredients (to fill a 23cm pie dish):
For the pastry
– 330g plain flour
– 240g slightly salted butter, cut into cubes
– 2 tsp caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
– 1 orange, zested and juiced
– 1 egg, beaten
For the filling
– 1.25kg rhubarb
– 200g Demerara sugar
– 3 balls stem ginger, finely chopped, plus 2 tbsp syrup from the jar
1. With the tips of your fingers, rub the flour and butter to form a mixture resembling breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar and orange zest then add 3-4 tbsp cold water, or just enough water to bring the mixture together into a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Remove the pastry from the clingfilm, cut off a third and return to the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining two-thirds to about 4mm thick, then use the rolling pin to help drape the pastry over the pie dish. Use a sharp knife to trim away some of the excess pastry, then use this to press the pastry case into the edges of the tin. Return to the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining pastry to about 4mm thick. Use leaf and flower cutters to cut out shapes, if you like (I used these), then cut the rest into strips, making sure they’re longer than the width of the tin. If you want to go one step further, you can also braid some of the strips – this video is a good guide. Transfer all the pastry pieces to a baking sheet lined with nonstick baking paper, then return to the fridge.
4. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and prick several times with a fork, then line with a large piece of baking paper. Fill with baking beans (or dried rice or lentils) and blind bake for 20 mins, then remove the paper and beans. Carefully trim away any remaining excess pastry, brush with half the beaten egg then return to the oven for 8 mins, until golden and crisp.
5. Meanwhile, trim the rhubarb, removing any leaves (you should be left with about 1kg). Cut into 3cm lengths then transfer to a large saucepan, along with the sugar, stem ginger and syrup. Simmer over a low heat for 10-15 mins, until the rhubarb is tender and just beginning to break apart.
6. Use a slotted spoon to pile the rhubarb into the baked pastry case. Use two of the pastry strips to create a cross, then weave in the rest to create a lattice (like this). Brush with beaten egg, then add the pastry flowers and leaves and brush again. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar then bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the fruit is bubbling.