BA’s Best Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
We picked up the vodka-in-the-dough trick from food wizard J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. The spirit hydrates the flour without developing gluten, which makes for an especially pliable dough and tender crust. If you use 100% water, the sky won’t fall, but we really encourage you to try it. This is part of BA’s Best, a collection of our essential recipes.
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ¼ cup cold vodka
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Filling And Assembly
- All-purpose flour (for dusting)
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¼ pounds rhubarb, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled, halved, quartered if large
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar or granulated sugar
- A 9-inch deep pie dish
Whisk flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Toss butter in dry ingredients with your fingertips to evenly coat. Working quickly and aggressively, rub butter into dry ingredients with your fingertips to create large, shaggy pieces of dough (the idea is to smash the butter into the flour, creating some pieces that are flat and thin and some that are large and irregular).
Stir vodka, vinegar, and ¼ cup ice water (or ½ cup ice water) in a small bowl. Drizzle over dough, then mix with a fork until shaggy pieces form. Knead in bowl with your hands a couple of times until a shaggy dorm forms (it will look quite dry, and that’s exactly what it should look like). Transfer large clumps of dough to a work surface. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. ice water over remaining dough in bowl and knead again to bring it together. Add to dough on work surface.
Divide dough in half. Working with one half, press into a single mass, incorporating dry bits, then pat down to make a ¾”-thick block. Using a bench scraper or knife, divide into 4 pieces. Stack pieces on top of one another, tucking any unincorporated dry bits in between layers, and press down to combine, flattening dough into one mass. Form dough into a ¾”-thick disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Use your fingertips and the outside edges of your palms to press in any rough spots or remaining dry bits of dough (keep dough wrapped in plastic). Chill at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
Do Ahead: Dough can be made 5 days ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 1 month.
Filling and Assembly
Preheat oven to 425°. Let dough sit at room temperature 5 minutes to soften. Working one at a time, roll out disks on a lightly floured surface to ⅛” thick. Place each on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and chill while you prepare the filling.
Scrape vanilla seeds into a large bowl; reserve pod for another use. Add rhubarb, strawberries, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and salt; toss to coat.
Carefully transfer 1 dough round to pie dish (make sure it’s a deep pie dish—super critical). Lift up edges and allow dough to slump down into dish (if it’s too cold to be pliable, let it warm up slightly first). Gently press dough into edges of dish, if needed. Trim, leaving about a 1″ overhang. Gently scrape in filling and smooth top. Lay remaining round over filling and trim, leaving about a ½” overhang. Fold edge of bottom round up and over top crust; press together to seal. Crimp as desired.
Beat egg with 1 tsp. water in a small bowl and lightly brush over top of dough. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
Transfer pie dish to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (for catching overflowing juices later) and chill in freezer 10 minutes. Cut a few slashes across top of pie. Bake pie 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375°. Continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown and juices are thick and bubbling, 75–90 minutes longer. If using a clear pie dish, check underneath to make sure the crust is browned all the way across the bottom.
Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before serving. Yes, it smells amazing, and yes, people love warm pie. But if you don’t give it time to set up properly, the filling will be runny when you cut into it.
Do Ahead: Pie can be made 1 day ahead. When cool, cover with aluminum foil and store at room temperature.
Recipe by Chris Morocco
Photograph by Laura Murray