Pie or cake?
Pie. Hands down.
I have never understood the fascination with cake. In my opinion, every cake is pretty much the same, with varying degrees of moistness and darkness.
You have small circle cakes (cupcakes)
Big circle cakes.
For most people (including my son), cake merely serves as an icing carrying device.
Pie, on the other hand, has nearly endless possibilities. It can be a dinner or dessert. Fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, no problem.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.
With all that said, strawberry rhubarb pie is my favorite. Whenever I see it listed on a menu, I can’t resist it. Grand Traverse Pie Company in Michigan makes an especially good one. In pursuit of my pie dreams, I planted rhubarb last year in hopes that I would be able to make my own pie in the future.
I had figured I wouldn’t be able to harvest my stalks of veggie dessert goodness until next year, but I was surprised to find that my stalks came in thick and heavy this spring, and was able to start harvesting with my students before the end of the year.
So, last weekend, I harvested some from the school and home garden, wrapped it up, and took it to Michigan in a chilled container.
On Saturday, I tried my hand at pie for the first time. I found a recipe for strawberrry rhubarb with a crumble topping from the great Internet cookbook. I followed the directions, which included instant tapioca (as a thickener), and placed the two pies in the oven to cook for an hour.
No where in the directions did it say you should put a pan under the pie to catch the juices. I suppose the recipe writer assumed I’d be smart enough to figure this out on my own, but you know what they say about assuming anything…
After an hour of cooking, the pies were perfectly done, with a perfectly awful mess at the bottom of the blazing hot oven.
The next day, I was making roasted asparagus, and I preheated the oven, then went outside to tend to the grill…
A minute later, I came in to the kitchen, filled with smoke. My mother-in-law opened the oven, and there we saw a pile of bubbling, burning rhubarb strawberry goodness caked permanently to the bottom of the oven.
We spent a while trying to clean the oven on Sunday (and Monday) with Easy Off*, and never quite got it.
*After using their product, there is NOTHING “easy” about Easy Off. Dangerous to inhale, harmful to the touch (It strongly recommended rubber gloves), it barely dented the caked on pie juices. Shame on you Easy Off! Shame. On. You.
So, how was the pie you ask?
Well, let’s just say that it didn’t quite thicken the way I had intended. I’m not sure if I should have used much more tapioca, or if I should have used some other sort of thickener, but it sort of came out as a strawberry rhubarb stew. The crumb topping was good, the strawberry and rhubarb were plenty sweet, but it never really resembled a pie.
However, that didn’t stop me from having about four “pieces” over the weekend, all with vanilla ice cream.
In the future, I may try my hand at pie again, but for now, I’ll leave Strawberry Rhubarb to the experts at Grand Traverse Pie Company.
With that said, I’ll ask you good readers, any advice on thickening a pie? Also, should I have just known to put a pan under the pies? Let me know.