There isn’t really anything that signals summer’s beginning more than Rhubarb. I’m just crazy about it ever since I was a kid and we’d sit under the honeysuckle bushes dipping stalks of rhubarb into our blue melamine sugar bowl. And I’m even crazier about this Two Layer Rhubarb Custard Pie.
So now, honeysuckle is considered a noxious week and that old blue & white melamine is long gone, but I’m still making this old-timey recipe for Two Layer Rhubarb Custard Pie. There’s something about how this pie sets into layers that makes it so pleasing to eat. You get the sharper rhubarby flavor on top and the creamier custard layer on the bottom and I just love that!
About Two Layer Rhubarb Custard Pie:
I heavily adapted this recipe from a cookbook I think was called the Seasoned Cabin. I couldn’t find anything about it online. If there isn’t such a book, there should be and it should include this recipe along with everything you’d like to make when your vacationing “Up Nord” or at the lake cottage or when you’re bringing something to a family reunion back at the old homestead. I think I’d call that cookbook Humble Pie. 🙂
Two Layer Rhubarb Custard Pie is not only delicious, it has that kind of down-home feeling. It’s definitely humble. And supremely scarfable! In spite of being a custard pie, it slices cleanly and holds up well. It’s just the kind of pie that needs no embellishment. It’s the kind of pie that a child could grab a piece of and eat on the run as the kids gather to play Red Rover before dusk falls and the fireflies come out.
Making Two Layer Rhubarb Custard Pie:
This Two Layer Rhubarb Custard Pie has a different method than most of the custard pies I’ve seen and an extra little step. You separate the eggs and beat the whites. Then the pie mixture is beat with a mixer, too, the rhubarb added, then the egg whites are folded in. There are easier Rhubarb Custard Pies but this extra little step pays off with those distinct layers.
The pie really is a little “ugg” and I can see why some Rhubarb Custard Pies use a streusel topping. I am always championing the underdog, it seems, in real life and in cooking and I kind of like the fact that the Two Layer Rhubarb Custard Pie is a little homely. I also like a rhubarb pie that isn’t too sweet and lets the rhubarb shine, so a streusel topping isn’t always my fave. Not that I’d turn down any rhubarb pie if you know what I mean!
I don’t think there is ever a time that I’m not a little anxious when I make pies. I call it pie anxiety. It’s kind of like a Post Traumatic Pie Syndrome. See, now it’s a thing. PTPS. I wouldn’t even make my own pie crust for a while. And you don’t have to, either, just use a store-bought one if you want. If you want to go home-made, I’m going to post out my favorite pie crust for you, just in case you might have PTPS, too, so watch for that coming up…soon.
Saving Money on Two Layer Rhubarb Custard Pie:
It goes without saying that picking your rhubarb, either your own or a neighbor’s is going to cost less than buying. So many people have rhubarb they don’t do anything with. It’s a shame because as the stalks are picked, more grow in. It’s like magic! If your neighbor gives you rhubarb, make sure to give them a slice of this pie. 🙂 If you are picking or buying fresh rhubarb, you’ll need more than a pound because you’ll need to trim the leaves and ends off.
Rhubarb comes frozen in 1 pound bags, which is exactly what you need for this recipe, three cups in a small dice. You’ll have to dice the frozen a bit more. Look to see if rhubarb isn’t included when frozen berries are on sale. It’s usually not going to go on sale by itself, it’s just not popular enough. Frozen items like this are usually cheapest in late summer after harvest. Supply and demand, right? Prices will rise over winter, but look for sales around holidays.
Frozen or refrigerated pie crusts are a great item to pick up on holiday sales, especially with coupons. Watch your coupon matching site because they will alert you to great sales whether or not you use coupons. Premade pie crusts last for quite a while in the fridge and several months in the freezer. Making your own pie crust, depending on the cost of the butter, might, at times cost a bit more than the premade ones bought on sale with coupons. I think the premade ones are pretty decent, but side by side the flavor differences are going to be apparent. My vote is always for homemade when it’s feasible, but I won’t hesitate to shortcut with a premade if I need to.
Two Layer Rhubarb Custard Pie
This humble pie has a special twist: it divides into two layers, the tart rhubarb on top and the creamy custard on the bottom.
- Total Time: 1 pie
- Yield: 8 servings
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, melted (see note)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups diced rhubarb in 1/4″ pieces or 1 pound bag frozen, cut into 1/4″ pieces
- 1 pie crust, homemade or store-bought
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare pie crust by placing it in a standard 9″ deep dish pie pan and refrigerate as the pie is made and oven preheats.
Place egg whites in mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Set aside. In another mixing bowl (no need to rinse beaters) Add eggs, sugar, butter, flour, orange juice concentrate, baking powder, and salt. Beat until lightened in color. Stir in rhubarb.
Fold the egg whites into the batter, starting with about 1/3 of the eggs whites, mixing until incorporated, then gently adding the rest in two additions. Scrape filling into pie crust. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, then turn oven down to 325 degrees F. and bake an additional 40 to 45 minutes until the pie is puffed and top is a medium golden brown.
Remove and cool at room temperature for an hour, then refrigerate. Serve pie cold or remove from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
If you don’t have orange juice concentrate, the pie is just as good without or you can add the zest of an orange and two tablespoons of the juice to the pie instead.