Vail baking: Rhubarb-strawberry a celebrated combination |

Vail baking: Rhubarb-strawberry a celebrated combination

Vera Dawson
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail baking: Rhubarb-Strawberry Streusel Pie is at its best served warm on the day it is baked

VAIL, Colorado – Opposites attract,, which explains the success of this tasty pairing: One sweet, the other tart – strawberries and rhubarb go together beautifully. And, this pie really shows them off. It’s the up-date of a classic, and, in my opinion, a step above most pies featuring this celebrated combination.

What makes it noteworthy? Cooking the filling before it goes in the pie shell assures that it will be perfectly done when the shell is fully baked. So, there’s no chance of a golden crust and a disappointing, half-cooked, runny filling. The streusel topping is another enhancement –crisp and crunchy, featuring the tastes of cinnamon and brown sugar, it complements the filling and adds complexity to the dessert.

The pie is a pretty one. It doesn’t need the decorative dough cut-outs to look inviting, but if you want to add them, as I did for the pie in the photograph, cut them out of left-over pie dough with a small cookie cutter and put them in the refrigerator to chill. When, in Step Four below, the pie is half-baked (about 20 minutes in my oven), remove it from the oven, place the cut-outs on it, glaze them with the beaten egg, and return it to the oven to finish baking.

The pie is at its best served warm on the day it is baked. It can be made early in the day, cooled completely, and reheated in the oven until warm to the touch. Add a scoop if ice cream, if you like. Store left-overs in the refrigerator.

Make in a 9-inch, deep-dish pie pan, preferably glass or ceramic


Your favorite pie crust dough (enough for a 9-inch, deep-dish single crust) or a commercial single deep-dish pie crust

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons of quick or old-fashioned oatmeal (not instant)


3/4 cup of granulated sugar

3 tablespoons of cornstarch

Scant 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

3 generous cups of fresh or frozen rhubarb, cut into half-inch slices

3 generous cups of strawberries, washed, hulled and cut in half or fourths (depending on size of berries; cut so all are uniform size)


1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon quick or old fashioned oatmeal

1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

1/4 cup of golden brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon

3 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter

Prebake the pie crust. After you remove the pie weights and are ready to return the crust to the oven for its final baking, brush the partially-baked crust with some of the beaten egg and sprinkle the two tablespoons of oatmeal all over it. The oatmeal will absorb some of the liquid from the filling and help keep the crust from getting soggy. Finish baking the crust, remove it from the oven and cool it completely.

Start the filling: Mix the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg in a big, heavy saucepan. Add the cut-up rhubarb and strawberries and toss so that the berries and rhubarb are coated and all are fully combined. Set this aside for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, with a rack in the center position.

Make the streusel: Put one-third cup of oats, the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse briefly to combine. Cut the cold butter into pieces, add it to the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. By hand, stir in the remaining one tablespoon of oatmeal. Set this aside.

Complete the filling and bake: After a 30-minute rest, place the pan of filling on the stove and, stirring constantly, bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat, continue to stir, and simmer until the liquid thickens (3-6 minutes). Spoon the filling into the cooled crust. You may not use all the filling, depending on the depth of your pie shell. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top. Place the pie pan on a cookie sheet, to catch any juices that may overflow, and bake until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling thickly. This takes about 35 minutes in my oven. You may need to cover the edges of the prebaked pie shell with strips of aluminum foil to prevent them from over-browning.

Remove the pie from the oven and set it on a rack to cool. It should cool for at least 2 1/2 hours before you cut it. You can cool it completely and reheat it just before serving. It’s easier to cut the pie when it’s cool. So, cut it into pieces before re-heating.

This is a variation of a recipe from “The Bon Appetit Cookbook.”

Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at

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