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Ashley English, author of A Year of Pies, writes that rhubarb, while technically a vegetable, “has earned its rightful place in the pantheon of sweet pies.” Although you might be tempted to slice into it as soon as its ruby-red gloriousness comes out of the oven, do allow it adequate time to cool. Once the bottom of the pie pan is no longer warm to the touch, break out the pie server and slice away!

Lattice-Top Rhubarb, Lemon and Vanilla Pie

Basic Pie Dough: All-Butter Version

This all-butter crust is unrivaled in terms of flavor. It’s also quite flaky, despite having no shortening. The secret is to work with very cold butter. I keep all of my butter in the freezer, transferring it to the refrigerator overnight or several hours before I intend to make pie dough. Work quickly, with cold hands on a cool work surface, and you’ll end up with a crust that’s as flaky as it is scrumptious.

For a double-crust 9 inch pie:
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- 3/4 cup ice water

Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large bowl.

Using a pastry blender or two forks, incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal (you should still have some rather large bits of butter and shortening when you’re done).

Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a large spoon until the dough begins to clump.

Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and, using your hands, fold it into itself until all of the flour is incorporated into the fats. The dough should come together easily but should not feel overly sticky.

Divide the dough in half, shape it into two balls, and pat each ball into a ½-inch thick disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Filling

- 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tsps. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

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Egg Wash Topping

- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 Tb. cold water
- 2 Tbs. turbinado sugar or other coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Prepare the crust.
Remove one dough disk from the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into the 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1 inch, then place the crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the filling. Place the chopped rhubarb, sugar, arrowroot or cornstarch, lemon zest and juice, vanilla extract and nutmeg in a medium-size bowl. Stir together with a large spoon until well combined.
Pour the rhubarb filling into the chilled crust.
Assemble the pie.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Roll the remaining dough disk into a 12-inch circle. Using a pastry wheel, cut 12 1-inch-wide strips of dough. (I like to use the fluted edge of the pastry wheel, but you can use the smooth wheel, if you prefer.)
Arrange the lattice strips over the pie filling in alternating rows, weaving 6 strips horizontally and 6 vertically.
Trim the lattice strips to a 1-inch overhang and tuck the top and bottom overhangs under the bottom crust. Crimp the edges decoratively as desired.
Whisk the egg yolk and water together in a small bowl, then use a pastry brush to brush the wash over the lattice and the edges of the crust. Sprinkle the turbinado or other coarse sugar over the pie.
Transfer the pie pan to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil to catch overflow juices. Bake for 1 hour, until the crust is golden and juices are bubbling in the center of the pie.
Cool at least 4 hours before serving.

Variation:

Trade an equal amount of orange juice and zest for the lemon juice and zest, and replace the nutmeg with 1 tsp. ground cinnamon.

Tip:

Work quickly when cutting and assembling the lattice top. Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it pulls moisture out of other materials and into itself. Therefore, the less time that the rhubarb and the sugar interact before going into the hot oven to bake, the better.

Reprinted with permission from A Year of Pies © 2012 by Ashley English, Lark Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

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