Rhubarb raspberry pie, a writer’s 44-year-old tradition

Rhubarb blasts the first note of the growing season. We startle to attention. In my mom’s garden, each summer for 44 years, we’ve harvested the same bittersweet plant. In her kitchen, we’ve baked the same bittersweet pie. This time I added berries and switched to a butter crust. I’m listening to rhubarb, and minding the command to grow.

Rhuberry Pie

Prep: 2 hours

Bake: 50 minutes

Makes: 1 9-inch pie

2 lbs. (about 8 stalks) rhubarb

1 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz. fresh whole raspberries

1/4 tsp. salt

Pie pastry (recipe follows)

Cut: Trim rhubarb. Split each stalk the long way. Slice crosswise into 1/2-inch lozenges (rhubarb, like celery, cuts best on the diagonal, so chunks will be diamond-shaped). Measure 6 cups.

Macerate: Tumble rhubarb into a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup sugar, the cornstarch, zest and vanilla. Let rest. Tumble raspberries into a small bowl. Sprinkle berries with remaining ¼ cup sugar and the salt. Mash raspberries with a fork. Let rest.

Chill: Roll out larger pastry disk 1/8-inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate, trim and crimp edges. Freeze firm. Roll out smaller pastry disk and trim to a 9 1/2-inch circle. Snip in a star to vent pie. Freeze firm.

Prebake: Line the pastry-filled pie plate with parchment paper, fill with dried beans or pie weights. Slide into a 400-degree oven and bake until pastry turns golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Pull out parchment and weights.

Fill: Suspend a medium-mesh sieve over rhubarb bowl. Strain raspberries through, pressing firmly. Discard seeds. Stir fruit and juices; scrape into the baked pie crust. Cover pie with frozen top pastry.

Bake: Set pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Protect pie rim with a pie halo or tinfoil. Slide into a 400-degree oven and bake until top is golden brown and thickened juices bubble up, about 45-50 minutes. Cool completely. Slice and serve.

Pie pastry: Measure into the food processor: 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Buzz briefly to mix. Drop in 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut up. Pulse a few times, until largest lumps are the size of peas. Turn out into a large bowl. Drizzle in, 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 8 tablespoons cold water, folding gently with a soft spatula, until clumps form. Pat 2/3 of the pastry into a large disk, pat the remaining pastry into a smaller disk. Dust each with flour, wrap in plastic and chill.