A dream incarnate

I did it! I did it! I did it!

I found the rhubarb cream pie that I’ve been looking for my whole live-long life!

Oh. You didn’t know I was on that particular quest? That I was lying awake at night, bemoaning my lack of creamy rhubarb pie knowledge? That every time I glanced at my rhubarb patch I took to wringing my hands and sighing so deeply that the very breaths seemed to come from my ovaries? That I was paging through countless recipe books, calling my rhubarb guru friends, sobbing in my mother’s (unsympathetic) ear over the phone, plucking my husband’s sleeve and whispering piteously, “Cream and rhubarb, rhubarb and cream, oh shall I never get it right!”?

You didn’t know all that was going on?

Well, that’s fine.

Because it wasn’t.

I was at peace with the hundred and six rhubarb recipes I have tucked happily under the elastic waist of my yoga pants. I didn’t think I needed more.

But then I opened up the food section of our local paper and there was a recipe for rhubarb custard pie from the Amish Cook. Usually I find her recipes too sweet, too bland, and too boring, so I just gave it a quick glance and made like to turn the page. But then I paused, pondered the ingredient list—cream, sugar, flour, eggs, and rhubarb—really pondered them, and then quickly tore out the recipe.

I’ve had other rhubarb custard pies before, and I’ve liked them all well enough, but they always seemed to be too something—eggy, bland, watery, sugary, etc. I doubted the Amish Cook’s recipe would be any better, but decided I’d give it a go. It wasn’t like I didn’t have plenty of rhubarb on hand or anything.

To make a long story short, I love, love, love this pie. Though, and this is the only fault I could find with it, it is clearly NOT a custard pie. It is a cream pie, as in a CREEEEAAAAAMMMMMM pie. Velvety smooth and lustrous, the creamy part melts on the tongue while the juicy bits of rhubarb squirt delightful bursts of flavor with every bite. All of that cupped inside my favorite rich, crispy, buttery crust? Ooh-la-la. Now if you’ll please excuse me while I go cut my THIRD slice of pie.

I actually had a little trouble with the crust the first time. It didn’t get brown on the bottom and there’s nothing more disappointing about a pie than a pasty, leaden bottom crust. I made two more then and was so concerned about getting them brown enough that I charred parts of the edges (the parts of the edges that I did not take pictures of).

The bottom line? Don’t under bake the crust and don’t over bake it. You want it to get just right—golden brown all over. But then you knew that, right?

I’m sitting here reflecting on how very creamy this cream pie is and it occurred to me that it’s very similar to a dreamsicle, but with rhubarb instead of orange. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

In any case, this pie is a dream incarnate. A creamy dreamy cream dream dream.

Rhubarb Cream Pie
Adapted from the Amish Cook‘s column in our newspaper

The rhubarb didn’t seem like it would be enough to fill a 9-inch pie even after I added an extra cup of fruit, but it was. It’s a more thinly filled pie, yes, but it’s so rich and flavorful that that’s as it should be.

1 9-inch butter crust
2 ½ cups diced rhubarb (the rosier the better)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Line the pie pan with the crust and crimp the edges. If you want to blind bake your crust to help it get a little more color, do it now. (This is optional. Do whatever you need to get a golden brown crust.)

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. Add the eggs and whisk thoroughly. Add the cream and whisk some more.

Dump the diced rhubarb into the pie shell, pour the cream mixture over top, and bake the pie at 375 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the center of the pie no longer jiggles when you wiggle the pan and the crust is golden brown on the edges and bottom.

Cool to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator before serving (though I’ve been known to eat it piping hot).

This same time, years previous: naked pita chips


    • Jennifer Jo

      If it's any consolation: I've been making sourdough bread for 15 years and this weekend was one bread-baking fiasco after another. Baking is SUCH an exercise in perseverance AND humility!

  • Jason

    Hello, I'm another UK Guardian reader directed to your recipe here. I've tried to baked this pie on 2 occasions and have had some trouble with the top. I have failed miserably to make it look like what you have in the pictures (fruit on top; set custard at the bottom). My 1st attempt resulted in a meringue like top which I attributed to whisking the cream/custard mixture too vigorously. The second time round, I got a bit carried away with the cooking time as I became concerned about out the wobbliness in the middle! In both attempts, the rhubarb remained at the bottom. What's the secret? More rhubarb?? I should say they were delicious regardless of how they looked!

    • Jennifer Jo

      Hmmm, I'm sitting here pondering your questions… I'm not sure what's going on, but here are a couple ideas:

      *Are you using heavy whipping cream? Something less rich might not be able to hold the fruit.
      *Are you using fresh rhubarb? If frozen, it might be wetter/heavier and less likely to float.
      *Are you using a 9-inch pie pan? Something bigger/smaller might change how the fruit and custard relate to each other.

      I beat the egg and flour mixture well, but then I only whisk briefly after adding the cream.

      Another idea: maybe the fruit is SUPPOSED to be on the top and it's my pie that isn't behaving properly? As long as it tastes good….

    • Jason

      Yes, I should also confirm that I am using heavy whipping cream (I believe it's equivalent to double cream in the UK) and yes, I'm using fresh rhubarb! Not sure about the size of the tin, probably is 9-inch…

  • townwithoutpity

    This is the recipe I searched for for nearly 25 years! I love it so much, I wrote to the Guardian in answer to their call for best lockdown bakes. They published my story, which is exactly the same as your story, with a link to your site, and all my friends have now baked this pie, and are passing on the link. We all thank you so very much! xx

    • Jennifer Jo

      I saw that article!!! It made me so happy that: one, the pie worked for you, and two, that you took the time to share it. Thank you for spreading the rhubarb love!

    • Jennifer Jo

      I don't see why not! The berries might add a little more juice — might make the creamy part a little watery — but maybe not? Try and see!

  • Anonymous

    I came on this site to get baking times (mine are missing) and found it similar to mine, except I do 4 cups of rhubarb and only cream, flour, sugar and salt for the "cream" part, no eggs as in other recipes. Now you have me wondering if I've done this right all along, because I put a top crust on mine. My recipes appear to have only the most necessary parts lol. At any rate, this is a most excellent pie and a "must do" at least 1 time a summer.

  • Amber

    I must say, this pie didn't do anything for me. When I eat rhubarb pie, I want to taste rhubarb! It was also too sweet. I'll be trying another recipe.

  • Margo

    mmmmmmm. YUM. pie is my favorite. I think I have this recipe, clipped from my Amish cook in my newspaper last spring! I will go check my recipe box when I get off my duff. I remember liking it a lot, better than the recipe in Simply in Season.

  • Marie M.

    p.p.s. I just read your post from Aug. 2008 (2009?) about peach pie. You already know about using a preheated pizza stone (or hot cookie sheet) to help prevent a soggy bottom. Miss Know-it-All gets her comeuppance. That's me, folks. Another suggestion. I once had a peach pie with a graham cracker crust. There was cinnamon in it somewhere. Crust? Tossed with peaches? Sprinkled on whipped cream? It was good and no pie crust phobia with graham cracker crust.

  • Marie M.

    What a beautifu looking pie. I've so envious. I am a deprived woman. I have never had rhubarb. However, I may have the secret to soggy bottom crust. Take an old beaten up cookie sheet. (I know you have one.) Put in the oven while it's preheating. When the oven is hot place your pie on the now hot cookie sheet. This will give the bottom of the pie an extra jolt of heat to help the crust cook. Supposedly. p.s. I've never tried this method. Why? Because I fear making pie crust. I stick to crisps and crumbles. I gave up on pie crusts many years ago after too many failures. I need to get back on the horse again. Wish me luck!

  • Mama Pea

    No, no, no you cannot eat a pie piping hot. My grandpa maintained that would give you stomach ulcers. Just hot pie, not hot anything else. (There were stranger notions handed down in my family.) This rhubarb concoction sounds and looks a little different than anything I've come across and I do so love rhubarb that I have A LOT of rhubarb recipes. I'll have to try this one as soon as my rhubarb gets big enough.

    Have I ever mentioned before that you should be writing for publication? Oh yeah, that's right; I have several times. When you gonna listen to me?

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