I have been meaning to share my favorite pie crust recipe here for a while now, but every time I’ve made it lately, I’ve been experimenting with it somehow, with varying degrees of success. For Easter I decided to experiment once more with a hazelnut pastry for strawberry rhubarb pie, and I have to share this variation on the pie crust recipe because it was so good. For the strawberry rhubarb filling, I used this recipe from Simply Recipes, which was a good starting point, but I have some changes I’d make for next time. First, less sugar – 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of fruit was too sweet for my taste. I like a bit of tart rhubarb flavour, and this was quite sugary. Second, more fruit – probably 4 cups of rhubarb and 2 of strawberries. Third, the recipe used instant tapioca for the thickener, which gave the filling a kind of tapioca-pudding texture (little tiny gelatinous balls). Nate said he couldn’t tell, but I wasn’t loving it – not that it tasted bad, I would just prefer a smoother texture from, say, corn starch. And fourth, I would add some lemon zest along with the orange zest to the filling. So once I have all that figured out and perfected, I’ll share my recipe. In the meantime: hazelnut pastry!
This is a super easy-to-make pie crust, made in a slightly different way than usual: instead of cutting cold butter in to flour, you actually cream the room-temperature shortening/butter, then stir in the flour until the dough looks ragged. I know – I was skeptical the first time I made it too, but it was so easy to work with and turned out SO flaky and delicious that it has become my go-to pastry recipe for everything that needs a crust. The only thing it doesn’t work for is single crust pastries that are blind-baked (pre-baked) before filling (like a quiche), because the large amount of fat in the dough causes it to melt and shrink down the pie plate. But for pies that you fill before baking (especially double crust), it is fantastic. I also like that it is easily made entirely by hand – you don’t need a food processor to make good pastry!
I had a strawberry rhubarb pie a few years ago that was topped with a sort of almond struesel, which gave me the idea of adding nuts to the pastry. I like the assertive flavour of hazelnuts, and thought they would pair well with strawberry and rhubarb, so I ground some up and substituted 1/2 cup of the flour for the ground hazelnuts. When I added the water, I ended up with a slightly wetter dough, but by sprinkling it with flour and folding it several times on a floured surface, I got a dough that was just the right consistency and baked up really nicely into lots of light, flaky layers.
And lastly, I wanted to show off the gorgeous pinky-red strawberry rhubarb filling, so I went with a lattice top. It looks impressive and is actually really easy to do!
Click for the recipe!