Rhubarb Custard Pie
Watching rhubarb grow is seriously the weirdest thing ever. How it seems to push its way out of the earth and unfurl its huge leaves is just amazing. Our next door neighbor has a huge plant, with thick pink to green stalks, and has kindly let me harvest from it each season. I also have a small strawberry rhubarb plant in my garden that produces smaller, bright red stems.
Once I have stalks in my hands, I cannot wait to make rhubarb custard pie. I grew up eating my grandmas recipe, which was tart and simple. Once married, I made my husband’s great grandmas recipe, which was extra sweet and creamy, topped with meringue. I realized I craved something in the middle. I wanted a creamy custard filling with the sharp tart of the rhubarb, and just enough sugar to balance it out. With a few test pies of various methods, I think this pie is the perfect balance of everything (Also why I am wearing a wide array of sweaters in the following photos!). I included two different ways to arrange the rhubarb, based on the size of stalks you have to let the natural beauty of the stalks stand out a bit more.
Rhubarb Custard Pie
Yield: 2 pies
2 1/2 c. Sugar, plus 2 Tbs.
2 Tbs. Flour
A pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
1/2 c. Milk
6 Tbs. Butter
2 c. thick stalk Rhubarb (about 1" around), chopped diagonally at 1/4 inch thick
2 c. thin stalk Rhubarb (about 1/2" around), cut to the length of the pie dish (9" pie dish, cut rhubarb to 9")
Recipe for two pie crusts (my recipe is from the American Test Kitchen Cookbook)
Make the Custard
Melt butter over medium-low heat until it froths and just starts to turn golden and smells lightly toasted, around 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool in pan.
Whisk together flour, sugar, and nutmeg.
Whisk in the eggs, then the milk.
Fold in the browned butter until just combined.
Place your egg mixture in the freezer to help it firm up a bit, about 30 minutes (this helps the rhubarb sit on top of the custard).
Prepare your pie crusts.
Remove the egg mixture from the freezer, stir to re-combine. Divide mixture in half, adding each half to a pie crust.
Arrange the Rhubarb
Top one pie with 2 c. chopped rhubarb, evenly arranging it over the surface of the custard.
Top the other pie by arranging each of the pie dish-length pieces of rhubarb evenly over the top. If any pieces are too long, trim as you place them so they fit. If you have any gaps, fill with rhubarb, keeping it in the same even lines. I chose to place my lines at a diagonal to the handles, to give it a more unique appearance.
Sprinkle each pie with 1Tbs. sugar.
Bake the Pies
Place the pies on the lower rack and bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 60 more minutes. Cover the crust with foil halfway through the second hour of baking. Pie is done when filling bubbles and has a slight jiggle.
Set pies on a cooling rack until completely cool. This will make sure the egg custard has set. I often let them get completely cool in the fridge before serving (although a little custard pooling never hurt anyone, and warm pie is soooo good.)
Serve warm or cold. Perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.