Rhubarb Lemon Sponge Pie
Rhubarb has been piling up in my fridge as the plants in the garden go bonkers this spring. It is absolutely amazing how fast these plants grow. The crimson stalks seem to appear overnight and if left to their own devices for a week, they’ll triple in size! Since I can’t possibly keep up with the harvest in “real time”, I have taken to making big jars of the rhubarb coulis that I included in the last post’s recipe. The coulis lasts in the fridge for quite some time (so far three weeks) and is wonderful for so many dishes, including drizzled over a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. Mmmm….
Strawberries have somehow always been the most common pairing for rhubarb, but I would argue this is an injustice to the rhubarb since the strawberries really tend to mask the tart complexity of the rhubarb. Still, having all this rhubarb around the house got me in the mood for pie. At first I was going to settle for straight rhubarb pie, but as I was writing out my shopping list, I started thinking more about my favorite kinds of pie and why I like them. I don’t particularly like pies with a crust on top; nor do I really like pies that have chunks and juices that act like strangers once you cut a slice. My favorite pies all seem to be dense and custardy, probably thanks, at least in part, to growing up with my Grandmother’s amazing pumpkin pie.
So, once I realized that a straight rhubarb pie was going to yield a pie that wasn’t, on principle, really to my liking consistency-wise, I decided to think about using the rhubarb coulis in some sort of custard pie instead. Unlike strawberries, lemons seemed a good teammate for this pie project since they compliment the rhubarb’s natural flavors. Lemon sponge pie is my go-to pie for any time I need a quick dessert to take to a potluck or to have on hand for company. Adapting it to add the rhubarb coulis was easy…as pie.
Rhubarb Lemon Sponge Pie
A Straight from the Farm Original
2 (9-inch) unbaked deep dish pie crusts*
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 C. sugar
4 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 C. milk
2 T. grated lemon zest
juice of one lemon (about a 1/4 cup)
pinch of salt
2/3 C. rhubarb coulis
*Pre-made pie shells from the store’s freezer section work just fine here.
Preheat oven to 375 F and lower the rack. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix well. Add the flour, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt, mixing until well combined. Gently fold in the egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the pie shells. Divided between the two pies, spoon the rhubarb coulis over the filling and use a table knife to swirl it around a bit (like you would if you were making a marble cake).
Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 300 F. Bake for an additional 45 minutes or until the top is dark golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool before serving. Flavor is best when chilled. Store in the fridge with plastic wrap on top. A dollop of fresh whipped cream never hurts when serving.