Free-form Rhubarb & Blueberry Pie

This past weekend I took a flying visit to my parents’ house in Somerset, to deliver a birthday cake for my best friend’s grandma (90) and great-aunt (95)! They were having a joint birthday party in the local pub :) While I was down there I swung by my Nanna and Grandad’s house, and then my Grandma and Grandpa’s! Both sets have always had amazing and bountiful vegetable patches, and I managed to get my hands on some harvest! I came away with beetroots, carrots, lettuces, a cucumber, a courgette and some rhubarb.

Veg is so much better when it’s straight from the ground: organic and as fresh as it gets! It is my aim in life to have a great vegetable patch – it is so satisfying to just pick what you need from the garden and eat it straight away. You know exactly where it has come from and where it has been. Everything smells so much better – tomato plant is my favourite smell ever. Carrots look better and more fun. And you would save so much money! I spend a lot on produce.

I haven’t had any rhubarb all rhubarb season, and we are right at the very end of it now so I was determined to put it to good use. Also, following my disastrous pie, I wanted an excuse to try my hand at pastry again. So this afternoon I made a Free-form Rhubarb and Blueberry Pie! And do you know what… I was rather pleased with it!

I adapted a recipe for a Plum & Almond pie from my Leith’s Baking Bible – the best book ever. It provides loads of technical information, ideas as to what has caused problems in your baking, and tips on how to get good results. My pie came out without a soggy bottom, can you believe it?! I think this was due to:

– pre-heating a baking tray and then placing my pie on another, cold baking tray on top of the hot one
– coating the fruit in cornflour, to soak up some of the juice
– something to protect the pastry base from too much moisture – in this case a layer of jam and ground almonds

RECIPE

You will need:

For the pastry:
170g plain flour
pinch salt
100g cold butter
1 egg yolk beaten into 2 tbsp cold water

For the filling:
300g prepared rhubarb
Large handful blueberries
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cornflour
4 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp complementary jam (I used strawberry)
2 tbsp ground almonds
1 egg white
2 tbsp granulated sugar

1. Place a baking tray in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.

2. Using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, cut the cold butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the caster sugar and blitz again.

photo 1photo 4

3. Transfer the breadcrumb mix into a bowl and sprinkle a little of the egg yolk/water mix onto the top. Mix in using a butter knife and a chopping motion. I like to turn the bowl with my left hand and chop in one direction, back and forth, with my right hand.

photo 1

4. Continue adding more of the liquid until the dough starts to come together – I didn’t need to use all my liquid. Once the pastry gets to this stage

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and binds together like this when the knife is wiped on the side of the bowl

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… turn the mix out onto the surface and bring together into a smooth dough.

photo 4

5. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a large circle, put the pastry onto a cold baking tray, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

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6. In a bowl, combine the rhubarb, blueberries, ginger, cornflour and 4 tbsp caster sugar. My blueberries were frozen so I ran them under water for a few minutes to slightly defrost them and remove some moisture.

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7. Once your pastry has firmed up in the fridge, take it out and spread the jam in the centre, leaving a margin of about 2 inches around the edge. Sprinkle the ground almonds on top of the jam.

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8. Pile the fruit mixture into the centre of the pastry, and fold the bare pastry up over the fruit, not meeting in the middle. If your pastry does crack at all, see if you can patch it up by pinching the pastry back together. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect!

photo 2

9. Brush the pie with the egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

10. Place the pie on its cold baking tray directly on top of the preheated baking tray, and bake for 35 minutes. After 20 minutes, cover with foil or greaseproof paper if you think the top might burn.

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Ta-daa!

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