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Small Victories

For a last-minute potluck, I decided to see if my pie crust three weeks ago was beginner’s luck. Arriving home after work, I chopped a scant pound of rhubarb and tossed the pieces with some sugar and vanilla extract. While the rhubarb drained in a colander over a bowl, I made the pie dough (8 oz flour by weight, 4 oz butter, 1 tbs sugar, 2 oz ice water). While the dough chilled for 15 minutes, I made a crumb topping using 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup flour plus 3 oz butter.

Once the dough was ready, I rolled it out, using wax paper per Alton Brown’s tip for handling dough. Getting the dough into the pie pan was a bit of a challenge but I managed it without incident. Then I added the rhubarb filling, sans the drained liquid which made a great mixer for seltzer water, and topped everything with the crumb topping.

Before you put your pie in the 375 degree oven, I would recommend covering the exposed crust with some foil to prevent over-baking. I forgot to do this and had to remedy the oversight with a very hot pie pan and rapidly darkening crust. Crimping aluminum foil around a hot pie pan is not something I recommend. The idea is to bake the pie with crust covered for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20 – 3o minutes until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Since I only added the foil after 25 minutes, I kept the rest of the baking time shorter – to about 15 minutes or so. This gave me just enough time to have the pie cool a bit before wrapping it up and taking it to the pot luck.

Even without the full baking time, this pie was a big hit at the pot luck. Of course, it was also the only dessert, but I don’t think that was the sole reason people were impressed to be offered a home-made pie. Only one tiny piece remained. I took it home as tangible proof of my baking success.

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