I’ve been hankering for some “pieplant pie” ever since I came across the term while reading Della T. Lutes’ 1935 food memoir, “The Country Kitchen.”
“Pieplant” is apparently a late 19th century term for rhubarb, which is one of the first things to grow up north in the spring.
“Slender, almost translucent pipes of rose color blanching to snowy white where stem meets the parent root; mere rods of tart juiciness held upright by a deeper fibrous body that melts to pulp at the mere hint of heat,” Lutes writes.
I remember that sight oh so well when I lived in upstate New York, where rhubarb would grow for more than six months each year. And that flavor could hardly be bettered, especially when baked in a pie.
Our rhubarb in San Antonio isn’t always fresh, especially this time of year. But you can find it in the freezer section. I went to pick up some and was surprised to find tart cherries next to it. I grabbed a bag of each and set out to make my own version of pieplant pie, which I hope you enjoy.
Rhubarb Cherry Pie
2 pie crusts, unbaked, separate use
1 (16-ounce) package frozen rhubarb, thawed
1 (12-ounce) package tart cherries, thawed
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
1 egg white
Roll out one of the pie crusts and line a 9-inch pie pan. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine rhubarb, cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Stir until sugar and starch are thoroughly incorporated. Let sit at least 5 minutes.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
When rhubarb-cherry mixture is ready, pour into pie pan. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the top.
Roll out the second pie crust and cut into strips about 1/2-inch. You can use a knife, if you don’t have a pastry stamp cutter wheel. Create a lattice over the top.
Mix an egg white with a splash of warm water. Brush over the lattice crust. Sprinkle with a light amount of sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is a deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
Makes 1 pie.
Adapted from Michael Symon