Retro Rhubarb Pie

When I think of rhubarb I think of Aunt Rose. She was my Dad’s oldest sister and the matriarch of the family. The first time I ate rhubarb was a family summer trip to Kansas. It was odd tasting, intriguing,and it grew in her back yard to boot!

I have two rhubarb plants in my garden. It is a rite of spring to see the shoots burst forward into a lovely plant. I usually mix it with a fruit from the berry family to make a pie, crisp or cobbler. Then I ran across a 100-year old recipe in a blog I follow A Hundred Years Ago. My old soul was touched by this recipe so I had to try. The pictures below left: Aunt Rose and my Grandpa and right: me, my sister and my Grandpa celebrating my 11th birthday. We had matching cherry smock tops 🙂

This recipe is unique as it uses raisins to accompany the rhubarb. Never seen that before.

So here we go.

Left to right pictures:

1 1/2 C rhubarb and 1 C golden raisins

1 C sugar, 1 egg, 1 TBSP cornstarch, 1 tsp vanilla

Blending the two mixtures into one bowl

Continuing the retro theme, I made the pie crusts from Jiffy pie crust mix $0.38 on sale, original price $0.84. The Jiffy Mix products were established in 1930 but the Chelsea Milling Company  was a traditional flour mill, established in 1901 in Chelsea, Michigan. If you want to learn the history of the company watch this video for a virtual tour.  My mom was a Jiffy consumer, she may have grown up with it during the depression.

Pictures left: Jiffy Pie crust mix and right: my retro milk glass pie plate with the crust.

Brush the pie crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar atop. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake an addtional 20-30 minutes.

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Patty’s Points:

  1. Rhubarb has a high water content so addition of cornstarch, flour, arrowroot, or tapioca are used as traditional thickeners for the filling. Most recipes call for 3 TBSP but this recipe called for 1 TBSP. The addition of the raisins added a “sponge” for soaking up additional liquid. Raisins can hold a lot of liquid. I almost wonder if any thickener would have been needed with the raisins as part of the recipe. As a result, there wasn’t much “bubbling” through the vents that I am used to when I know the pie is done.
  2. I liked the raisins as part of the filling. It allowed the rhubarb to be slightly sweetened and still taste the rhubarb. In most berry-rhubarb recipes you can’t taste the rhubarb at all.
  3. I made adjustments to the filling by adding vanilla and reducing the sugar content to 3/4 C. The egg made the filling custard-like and contributed to the thickening.
  4. The Jiffy crust – all you add is cold water – 4-5 TBSP.  The ingredients are wheat flour, hydrogenated lard, salt, and preservatives. I wonder how that lard gets pulverized into a grain mixture? It was a pretty wet mixture. In retrospect, I should’ve added 1 TBSP at a time into the cold food processor and checked the consistency.  I refrigerated the dough for 30 minutes before rolling it out although the directions indicate that you don’t have to. I added flour to the board before rolling it out which helped. It was a very tender crust and was easy to place in the pie plate.
  5. The pie crust was dry, the filling was moist and compact, but very little juiciness.  If I made this again I would use a different crust and eliminate the thickener. The raisin-rhubarb combo was good but it needed something.  Maybe it needed something like Julia would’ve used,  “With enough butter, anything is good.”