Well, I don't live in California, and I have a way to go before the local fruit is ready. I've been pretty good about this all winter...it's not usually that hard. I don't like supermarket strawberries anyway, and there have been plenty of pears, and gorgeous citrus to placate me. I have my preserves from last summer; they are not totally gone yet. But I also have lovely, snowy lard I rendered for my rilettes project, and I've been wanting to try a butter-lard piecrust. I have a birthday pie to make for a friend.
I just didn't feel like making another pumpkin pie or a custardy one. And much as I love a lemon tart-I make them all the time, and wasn't in the mood. So I went to the store and bought some strawberries and rhubarb. Rationalization: The potato-y qualities of the steroidal supermarket berries are mitigated by cooking, and the store-bought rhubarb is just fine, usually.
I made the crust from 2 cups of flour ,a pinch of salt, 3 quarters of a stick of butter, and an equal amount of lard. I processed these in the cuisinart, in bursts, until it looked mealy. I added icewater in a stream, while it was running, just until it clumped-into the fridge to chill for just over an hour, before rolling out. (Have I mentioned recently how I love my little bargain basement pastry marble? It is amazing how much easier rolling out pastry can be.)
The filling was made of one pound each of strawberries and rhubarb, cut in chunks, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 "brownulated" sugar, a generous sprinkling of cornstarch, and a tsp of cinnamon. I took shuna's advice and just gave the rhubarb a sponge bath before cutting. I did not want it to go watery, and so did not wash it after cutting. I glazed the top crust with beaten egg-yolk for color and shine.
The pie baked for 20 minutes at 400F, and took over an hour after that at 350F to finish and get golden. The fissure you see occured when I stuck my thumb in some scalding overflowed juices, and plonked the pyrex pie pan back down hard. I now have an unsightly bandage on my thumb, as I cannot find any bandaids of the correct size and shape to protect my free-form abstract-expressionist blister. Sigh.
The verdict on the crust: Best texture of all pie crusts made to date. Thin, tender, flaky. Taste is very good, not as wonderful in this department as all butter crust, however. All aspects considered, though, this is my favorite of all piecrusts I've made-especially for a 2 crust pie (vs. open tart). Definitely will not go to all lard-I need some of that buttery flavor.
Verdict on the pie as a whole: Very good. Much less runny than prior rhubarb pies-cooked for a long time, but rhubarb kept some shape. Thank you, shuna. No more washing cut up rhubarb for me. Not a lot of strawberry taste, but it was yummy because the rhubarb was very good. However, with rhubarb, a second, firmer fruit is needed to give the pie body. Next time I make this, if there are no real strawberries, I am going to use pears instead, and ginger instead of cinnamon.