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Rhubarb is plentiful in farmers' markets

Dear Eric: I was told about a rhubarb pie recipe that had sour cream and a crumb topping. Sounded good. I wondered if you had something like that? Mary Stokes Dear Mary: It's a good time of year to be in search of a rhubarb recipe.
Rhubarb pie with a big twist - a sweetly spiced sour cream filling and a golden, crumble-style topping.

Dear Eric: I was told about a rhubarb pie recipe that had sour cream and a crumb topping. Sounded good. I wondered if you had something like that?

Mary Stokes

Dear Mary: It's a good time of year to be in search of a rhubarb recipe.

Whether you grow it yourself or buy it from a farm market or grocery store, it's in season now and readily available.

You were in search of a pie recipe enhanced with sour cream and a crumb topping, and you'll find one below. You can make it with a store-bought or homemade pie crust. If you choose the former, make sure it's a deep-dish one, as you'll need its larger size for the generous rhubarb filling.

Speaking of that filling, the process begins by slicing fresh rhubarb and evenly placing it in the pie crust. The sour cream adds a lovely richness to the pie. It gets mixed with egg, sugar, flour and spices, and that mixture is then poured over the rhubarb. The pie now gets its topping, which in this case is oat-based, similar to that found on a baked fruit crumble.

When purchasing, opt for fresh-looking rhubarb with firm stalks that are free of soft or dark areas. Store rhubarb in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days. Wash the stalks of rhubarb well, and then dry just before needed.

Rhubarb and Sour Cream Pie

A rich rhubarb pie accented with sour cream and spicedoat topping.

Preparation time: 25 to 40 minutes (depending on whether you make your pie crust) Cooking time: 55 minutes Makes: 8 servings

For the topping

2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

3/4 cup large flake rolled oats

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

- pinches ground nutmeg and clove

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside until needed.

For the crust and filling

1 deep-dish store-bought or homemade pie crust (see recipe below)

1 large egg

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed golden brown sugar

1 (250 mL) tub sour cream

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

- pinches ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves

1 1/4 lbs. fresh rhubarb, tops and stems removed, sliced into halfinch pieces (you should get about 4 cups)

Preheat the oven 425 F. Place the egg in a bowl and beat until the yolk and white are well blended. Add the sugars, sour cream, flour, vanilla and spices and whisk until smooth. Place the rhubarb evenly in the pie crust. Pour the egg mixture over the rhubarb. Disperse oat topping over the filling.

Bake the pie 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake 35 to 40 minutes more, until the crust and topping are richly golden.

Set pie on a baking rack and cool to room temperature, which will set the filling. Slice and serve the pie topped, if desired, with a dollop of whipped cream, or scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Flaky Pie Dough

This recipe is from my book Everyone Can Cook for Celebrations. The generous amount of shortening plus a touch of butter makes an ultra-flaky crust.

This dough also freezes well, so if you make a lot of pies, consider making a double batch and freezing the unused dough for another time. If tightly wrapped, the dough will keep up to 2 months in the freezer.

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus chilling time Cooking time: not applicable

Makes: dough for 1 doublecrust pie or 2 single-crust pies

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups cold vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup cold butter, cut into

1/2-inch cubes

1 large egg, beaten with 1/3 cup ice-cold water

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. With a pastry cutter or 2 forks (or with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer), cut the shortening and butter into the flour until well blended. Pour the egg/water mixture into the bowl; gently work it until it forms a loose, moist dough that just holds together.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a ball. Cut the ball in half.

Press each half into a 1/2inch-thick disk. Wrap and refrigerate each disk for 20 minutes before rolling out.

(If only making one single crust pie, freeze the other dough for another time.)

To make a crust, unwrap one of the disks of dough and place on a lightly floured work surface. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough from the centre out into a round large enough to fit a 10-inch wide pie plate with a 4-cup capacity.

Carefully unfold it and gently nestle it into the bottom of the plate. Don't worry if the crust breaks in places; simple press it back together. Crimp the top edges of the crust to create a finished look and trim off any excess dough from the side of the plate.

Refrigerate and firm up the pie crust 20 minutes and it's ready to fill.

Eric Akis is the author of the bestselling Everyone Can Cook series of cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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