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Pie is great. Fruit crisps or crumbs are great too. But do you know what is even better?
Both at once.
The buttery goodness of a pie crust on the bottom, the crispy deliciousness of a crumb topping. How could you go wrong?
I recently described it to someone as the dessert version of a mullet - business on the bottom, party on top.
I do this with apples and blueberries as well, but this early summer version is usually the first one to hit our counter top and the sweet-tart combination is delicious with a little vanilla ice cream.
There are basically three parts to this dessert: the crust, the filling, and the crumb.
When it comes to the crust, you have two choices - a high quality store bought crust in a pinch or a homemade crust if you have the time. Either way, you'll probably end up with enough for the top too (which you wont' need), so you can either make two of these (why not!?) or you can freeze the other half to make one when the next fruit comes into season. I've included a pie dough recipe that I've adapted from a favorite cookbook, but if you have a favorite go-to crust then by all means go ahead and use the one you love!
In terms of filling, we aren't always lucky enough to have strawberries and rhubarb in season at exactly the same time. It is totally fine to use frozen stored fruit for either of these. Just remember that your total amount may go down as the fruit thaws, and you may also get some extra juice. For rhubarb, this will cook out as you follow the directions in the recipe. If you are using frozen strawberries, though, I recommend cutting them and letting them thaw and draining the juice (use it to make some yummy flavored water!) and adding more if you have less fruit after draining.
For the crumb, be sure that your butter is nice and cold so that you don't have to worry about it being too soft and mushy when you go to top your pie. We like to use oats in our crumb but you can substitute a chopped up nut, like almonds, pecans, walnuts, if you prefer.
Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie
Note: this recipe takes about 1 hour to prepare, 1 hour to cook, and 4 hours to cool. Can be made a day ahead and will taste delicious cool.
Step 1: Make Your Basic Pie Dough (adapted from Cooks Illustrated "Baking Illustrated")
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 T sugar
12 T chilled butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
6-8 T ice water
Process the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Sprinke the chilled butter cubes on top and incorporate with about ten one-second pulses. Pour the mixture into a bowl and sprinkle 6 Tablespoons of the ice water over it. Fold the water into the dough with a rubber spatula until the water is incorporated. If the dough needs more help coming together, add up to 2 more tablespoons. Divide into 2 balls and flatten each of them into a disc about 4 inches across. Now you can either make two crumb pies or freeze the second dough ball for a later version.
Refrigerate the dough at least one hour while you are putting together the other ingredients for your pie.
Step 2: Make your Crumb
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t grated nutmeg
5 T unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup rolled oats
Place the flour, sugars, salt, and spices into the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Sprinkle the cubes of chilled butter over the top and pulse ten times, about 2 seconds per pulse. Add the oats and process again, a few pulses, until well combined but not overly blended and soft. It should be pretty clumpy, not smooth.
Refrigerate your crumb along with your pie crust until you are ready to assemble (at least 15 minutes)
Step 3: Make your Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
2 tsp vegetable oil
5 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1/2 inch)
5 cups chopped strawberries (halved or quartered depending on size)
3/4 cup sugar
3 T arrowroot or tapioca powder
1/2 t vanilla extract
Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add your rhubarb and saute for about 3-5 minutes until the juices have released but it is not too soft. Keep an eye on it so that you don't over cook and end up with mushy rhubarb. Drain the juices and place the rhubarb into a bowl and put it in the refrigerator with all of your other fun parts until cool (about 10 minutes).
Step 3a: Roll out Your Pie Crust
While your rhubarb is chilling, go ahead and roll out your bottom pie crust and place it in a 9 inch pie plate. Stick it in the refrigerator to chill.
Step 3b: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and place a rimmed baking sheet on a rack at the lowest level (this could get messy and you'll want that baking sheet to catch any drips!)
Back to Step 3: Your Filling
Mix sugar, arrowroot (or tapioca), and salt in a small bowl. Combine your now cooled rhubarb with your strawberries in a larger bowl with the vanilla. Add the sugar mixture and stir to combine.
Step 4: Assemble your Pie
Take that chilled pie crust out of the fridge and dump your filling into it, spreading it out into the corners. It should be nice and full!
Now take that chilled crumb topping out of the fridge and use your fingers to drop it in clumps over the top of the filling, being sure to get some nice good coverage but also leaving some gaps for the juices to bubble up.
Step 5: Bake your Pie
Place your pie on the bottom rack on top of that rimmed baking sheet and bake at 425 for about 25 minutes. Then, rotate the pie and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for another 30 to 35 minutes or until the crumb topping is nicely browned but not burnt. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack and LET COOL FOR AT LEAST 4 HOURS. I know, its hard, but the pie needs time to get together and be ready to serve.
We highly suggest serving this pie with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream :)