Sunday, 24 March 2013

Pretty Pink Pie!

Crostata di Rabarbaro & Cocco
Rhubarb & Coconut Pie

Sunday morning and time for something sweet again everybody! Well, actually, this story began last night when I prepared the rhubarb- not quite sure of how I was going to actually end up using it as usual! But also as usual- I thankfully became inspired this morning... maybe it was the unexpected sunshine, maybe just wishful thinking of the onset of Spring, but in any case I decided it had to be something pretty for all you ladies (and lads!) out there... and here it is!

I was a bit tired of the same-old same-old rhubarb with strawberries... very nice I'm sure, and a great way for faking the pink color (which is obviously much diminished after peeling the rhubarb of it's pretty pink skin), but just so... ordinary! I decided to make something unusual instead- and I was inspired to use the coconut when I saw just how much juice the rhubarb had developed after a night or relaxation... what better way to use it than to soak it up into a moist, sumptuous coconut layer? Pretty, tasty and smart I'd say! And this is how I made it...

As I already mentioned, I prepared the rhubarb the other night in my fool-proof, no fuss, tried and tested method. I peeled 3 stalks for this small pie (it is only about the size of a saucer and would serve 2 people generously) and chopped them into bite-sized chunks. I put these into an oven-proof dish and sprinkled them with a little Stevia- you can use sugar or honey if you wish. I added a little vanilla- I had a pod handy, but essence would also be fine, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, a little water and a teaspoon of cherry preserves- just to help maintain the color a little. I stirred these together and popped my dish into a HOT oven (400°F at least), for 10 minutes... then turned off the heat and went to bed. Seriously! The remaining heat in the oven does all the rest of the work for you... in the morning the rhubarb is cooked but firm and there is lots of delicious pink juice into the bargain! Best way to make it! And other way and all you end up with is slimy pink fibers... ugh!

I then drained the rhubarb and added enough coconut to the remaining juice, until it was all soaked up... and then indeed, squeezed out the excess juice from the now wonderfully pink coconut, so as to not make the base become too soggy.

The next step was to prepare my pastry base... and again, I decided to use my trick of using a frying pan instead of a pie dish, so as to begin "baking" the crust on the stove top, so that it is pre-baked from below before the moist topping has much time to seep through. Still, I assembled the whole thing first before turning on the heat... you can't bake puff-pastry blind! You have been warned! Don't try it! The butter melts, everything softens and let me just say... you'll be sorry!

So- I started off with a circle of pastry of course, and then using strips of around 1" width, created a slightly raised edge around the outside- this helps avoid any spillage as well as the fact that it puffs up much more decoratively. I then added my layer of coconut, spreading it out evenly, and spooked the rhubarb pieces on top of that. The little lattice top is of course optional- but I found it pretty today- plus, it used up all of my leftovers! Haha! That was the real reason!

To bake the pie, I turned on the oven to 350° and whilst it warmed, popped my little frying pan onto the stove top and turned up the heat to high too. As soon as the base changed color and became translucent from the butter melting, I turned down the heat and then let it sit for a while longer, until it became white again- the sign that it was almost baked through. Then into the oven it went, for 15 minutes, and a final 1-2 under the broiler at the end to give it a nice golden tan. And what can I say? It really was delicious, really was different... and really was as easy as pie!

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