Tag Archives: pie plant

A pie for imperfectionists


Despite that recipe you’ve found for “the perfect pie,” it will probably be imperfect — and that’s just the way it should be!

“PIE SHOULDN’T BE PERFECT,” declared an article on making fruit pie that I’d saved from a Bon Appetit magazine.

Aviva and I could  not have agreed more. While we learned a few things from the article (the butter in the crust should be in unevenly sized pieces) wondered over some pieces of advice (a pie should bake for an hour and a half at 350 degrees?) and  rejected others (really, the crust does not need that much butter!), the philosophy expressed in that simple line is what really struck home.

Aviva making pie

Aviva visits the Toby Kitchen for a pie-making session!


WE ARE NOT perfectionists, we realized  — and glad of it.

Being an imperfectionist (my new word) means you are content with “good enough,” and not devastated by minor failures in the kitchen or other areas of life.

The Bon Appetit article detailed a finished pie’s characteristics: “The filling will spill out, bits of crust will collapse, and it’s only natural for the fruit to shrink as it bakes, leaving a little gap beneath the top crust.”

And these “imperfections” not only don’t matter, but actually add to the pleasure of  making and eating pie.

“That’s the trouble with cake,” Aviva noted (she has a strong preference for pie over cake). “It’s too perfect.”


The still-warm pie was too juicy to serve it on the fancy plates I’d set out, so we served it in mismatched bowls, with ice cream melting on top. My twisted-lattice crust had become rather skewed and messy, but that didn’t bother us.


Just as the article had predicted, my pie had not yet set properly when we served it to friends a couple hours after taking it from the oven (the article advised waiting at least four hours, and added that pie was even better the day after it was baked. But warm-from-the-oven pie is sooooo good!)

We carved out some fairly sloppy slices and ladled them into mismatched bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. We used spoons instead of forks.

No one complained. It was a perfectly delicious imperfect pie and we were all happy.


Here’s the updated recipe. And for you fellow rhubarb-lovers, here’s some history and more on the wonderful pie plant.

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Filed under baked goods, dessert, fruit, spring, Uncategorized

Pie plant season


Thank you, Maggie, for the rhubarb!

It’s the season to celebrate rhubarb once again — and what better way than pie? After all, its nickname is pie plant, and every spring I seem to write about rhubarb pie — so why break the tradition? This time I decided to just take some photos along the way and show you how I spent my Sunday afternoon, along with some simple instructions if you’d like to make a delicious late-spring pie.

chopped rhubarb

Chop the rhubarb — you’ll need 4 cups or a little more for a small 8-inch pie — and make enough pie dough for a double crust, pat into two circles and refrigerate for an hour.  Then go for a walk while the dough is chilling.

Sunday afternoon was the perfect time for pie making.


To the chopped rhubarb, add a cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, some orange or lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

making rhubarb pie

Now roll out a little more than half the pie dough into a circle that overlaps the edges of the pie pan, and ladle in the filling in a mound.

Dot with butter

Dot  the rhubarb with butter

Roll and cut the dough into strips

Roll out the rest of the pie dough and cut into strips. A pasta cutter makes a fancy edge, but is not necessary.

Weave those strips into a lattice top

Weave those strips into a lattice top. My lattice was  a little funky, but who cares? Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle on some sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 or 45 minutes

Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 or 45 minutes. Oops, that crust looks pretty dark.

Serve, preferably with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and eat on a late Sunday afternoon. Skip dinner. Perfect.

Serve, preferably with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and eat on a late Sunday afternoon. Skip dinner. Perfect.


See more posts on rhubarb:

Fruit or vegetable?
Return of the rhubarb lover


Filed under baked goods, dessert, fruit, spring

In and out of the kitchen

The horse chestnut trees are in bloom here. I love these majestic trees and I watch them all year long, as they change through the seasons. I have my favorites around town, and today was a beautiful day to get out and go spend some time around and under the trees.

The blooms are creamy white clusters with just a touch of pink… and speaking of pink….

It’s also rhubarb season!!!

Okay, I think I talked earlier about my one-pie-a-season method. Well, for spring, rhubarb definitely takes the pie. Though I like other things made with rhubarb, I think it’s at its ultimate best when served up in a good old classic pie crust.

Also, I’m not a purist about too many things (although I can’t accept bagels with cinnamon or blueberries) but I do like my rhubarb straight. If someone else makes a strawberry-rhubarb pie, I wouldn’t refuse it, but in my kitchen, the rhubarb pie filling is all rhubarb — with just enough sugar and a  hint of orange zest.

When I was growing up in Chicago, we always had rhubarb plants growing by the side of the house.  We were warned not to eat the plants — they’re poisonous–but it was the stalks we were after! Of course, my mother made wonderful rhubarb pies. She gave some to our neighbors, who had never before tried the “pie plant” — and they were quickly won over.

I like to make a fancy one with a twisted lattice crust….

Last May, Aviva and I made this pie together. What a great memory on Mother’s Day!

But this year she’s in North Carolina. She told me that rhubarb season is at the tail end there and she couldn’t even get enough to make a whole pie– so she made a rhubarb-custard pie for the first time.

Anyway, this year (with rare exceptions), I’m trying to seriously cut down on the butter (yes, I know, it’s wonderful stuff…and Julia Child lived till almost 92…but some of us really HAVE TO avoid it). I could have just made some rhubarb sauce which is quite delicious by itself, but I was craving that seasonal rhubarb pie, after all …so I decided to make a half-pie.

Here’s what I did: I took a couple cups of cleaned chopped rhubarb, a little less than half a cup of sugar, some orange zest and a couple teaspoons of flour, and mixed that all together and put it in a pie pan. Then I made a small amount of pie pastry, using oil instead of butter and made a kind of rough lattice pattern on the top (the pastry was a little messy to work with, but tasted surprisingly good). I baked it at 400 degrees till it was browned on top and the rhubarb was soft and juicy — only about 20 or 25 minutes.

Okay, it wasn’t quite as pretty (and certainly not as buttery) as my true rhubarb pie, but it was still very satisfying. Steve and I ate it while it was still warm and I think it was more than half as good as the real thing. Mmmmm-mmmmm.


Filed under baked goods, dessert, fruit, spring, Uncategorized