berry rhubarb pie-#18 of 52 pies

 for me, spring is one of the most wonderful times in the year.  the visions of flowers and mushrooms dancing around in my head… planting the garden, pulling weeds, preparing the bee hive for the honey flow, cleaning out the freezer… where did that come from?  well it does need to be done and this weekend, i cleaned mine out-kinda, sorta.  in the process, i found some rhubarb and some raspberries that needed to be used up and when darry asked me to make a pie for our mushroom hiking friends, i decided to use them in the pie.  along with some strawberries and lots of other good things like orange zest, vanilla bean, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom and rosewater, i made a lattice topped pie for our hiking/lunch date with friends.

first, place your bottom crust in the pan and trim it to leave an even 1″ of dough all the way around.  pour in the filling.  lattice tops are an easy way to make a pie look fancy.  to keep your sanity, work with part of the dough at a time and don’t worry about weaving the strips.  simply laying them out in two layers will be easier and elegant all at the same time.

once you have your second layer of strips on top, carefully roll the edges up to make a raised rim of dough all the way around the edge of the pie plate.

using your fingertips, flute the edges.  finally, brush the strips (not the fluted border or it will darken too much in the oven) with a little egg wash and sprinkle it with some sanding sugar.  into the oven she goes…

berry rhubarb pie
1 (9″) pie serving 8
2 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening-i used a non-hydrogenated shortening found in the health food section of my grocery store.
1/3 cup cold water
1 1/2 tablespoon vinegar-white or cider
berry-rhubarb filling, recipe follows
in a bowl, stir the flour and salt.  cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until it is in small pieces.  add the cold water and vinegar and mix until a smooth dough is achieved.  divide into two pieces but not equal pieces-one should be slightly larger than half the dough.  wrap them and chill them for about an hour.  allow them to soften slightly before rolling them out.  preheat the oven to 350.  roll the smaller piece into a circle and fit it into the pie plate making sure that at least 1″ of dough overhangs the edge of the plate.  trim away any parts that are more than 1″.  to make it easier to handle, place  the pie plate on a sturdy baking pan that is lined with paper or foil and grease it slightly to prevent the plate from sticking.  make the filling and pour it into the crust.  to make the lattice top, divide the remaining dough into 2 or 3 pieces.  to prevent the dough from toughening, make an effort to roll it into a neat rectangle wide enough to fit the width of the pie.  cut the strips about 3/4″ wide to fit the pie and be sure to use the photos above as a reference.  finally, flute the edges and bake the pie for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the juices are bubbling in the center.  allow the pie to rest for at least 4 hours or it will be too runny to serve.  
berry rhubarb filling
2 cups of halved strawberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup rhubarb-slice about 1/4 inch thick
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1-2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice-or cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 of a vanilla bean-seeds scraped out and the pod reserved for another use
2 teaspoons rosewater
toss the berries and rhubarb together-if using frozen, allow them to thaw completely but measure them while frozen.  combine the sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, spices and vanilla and rub them together to disperse them evenly.  toss the fruit and sugar together and add the rosewater-mix to combine and pour into the prepared pie shell.
and as always, if you bake one and send me a photo-i will post it here.  contact me at  and now if you will excuse me, i think i hear some morels giggling in the woods and i must go find them

mmm, strawberries…

you know that spring has sprung when you see strawberries on sale in the grocery store. this is especially true around easter. i have moved on from cakes to cupcakes this week and first up is strawberry. strawberry cake is a traditional offering in the south. many birthday and wedding cakes are flavored with strawberry but not many use the real deal-fresh strawberry puree. this recipe does! i gathered up my scoops, my favorite tool for making muffins, cookies and cupcakes, and started scooping out the batter.

if you go to the grocery store, you can find the little paper cups in a couple sizes and sometimes in different colors or foil. i wanted the little mini cup liners and all they had were decorated with swirls in green. for the two other sizes, standard muffin and giant, i used plain white paper.

out of the oven and on the rack to cool, these will get dressed with a strawberry buttercream. another wonderful recipe that uses fresh strawberry puree. it is so easy to make and it tastes so much better when compared to the sludge sold in the plastic tubs in the baking aisle.
a nice long whipping time allows lots of air to be incorporated and makes the frosting nice and light. (i’m ignoring the snickers, what you do on your time is your business-me, i prefer to beat the hell out of a bowl of frosting…)
by using a piping bag, the frosting job is a quick and easy one that anyone can do-yes even you with a little practice.
lots of pretty little cupcakes in different sizes all from one bowl of batter and one batch of frosting.